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Purpose Isn’t Everything, but It Beats Everything Else
Do you ever get the feeling that time is speeding up? The major transitions in human history have been driven by the need to domesticate cattle and plants, the large scale mechanisation of jobs and now the immediate dissemination of information around the world upon demand. With the arrival of each new age, the speed of change has left us wondering, where is this all going?
A quick race through history
The agricultural age began when humans first began to domesticate plants and animals. Records go back to 9500 BC listing the names of staple crops being cultivated in the Mediterranean. Fast forward to 1700 AD Brittan finally began to see its farming output outstrip the population’s demand due to improved farming methods and tooling. So began Britton’s Agricultural revolution.
A century later it would usher in the Industrial age that saw the large scale replacing of hand tools with steam engines and the beginning of large scale machine driven businesses. With the arrival of electricity quickly came the Technological Revolution and the Information age. The common theme throughout was bigger, faster, better and the erroneous belief that ‘things surely can’t get any faster.’
Where are we now?
Today our hyper-connected digital world provides an instantaneous way for humans to communicate, connect and grow communities of likeminded individuals–on a global scale–from their mobile phone.
With every significant new age of human development its disruption forces people to realign their identities and how they relate in the new world. Your ability to survive in today’s digital age is in large part dependent upon your ability to successfully learn, and relearn, and learn again on demand. Your ability to thrive in this digital age is dependent upon your connection to a wider supportive community – wherever that may be.
What’s the purpose?
With this constant for change, people react to the instability by seeking greater connection and purpose in their lives. As predictable careers end, purpose provides that predictability and certainty that we all need. When these changes happen on an increasingly global sale, these communities of purpose become global in their reach and focus.
People today report a growing sense of belonging and a greater sense of relatedness. They are expressing themselves and their community’s belief through their purchases and support of brands that echo their new found sense of global community expression and belonging. Increasingly they expect an increase in significance and meaning around an otherwise blunt commercial transaction, and they’re definitely developing a feeling of growing autonomy.
You see it in the success of purpose driven brands like Etsy, Patagonia and The Body Shop. You see it in the rise of growers markets and farm direct to your door delivery services that bring fresh seasonal food and a comforting connection back to the land. You see it in the rise of the conscious capitalism community and the rock stars of the new purpose economy – the B Corp. movement – both committed to using business as a force for good in the world today.
The power is returning to the consumer
People do business with people, rarely with businesses. The people who work for us are the representation of our business, our brand and perhaps a cause, translating business speak into the particular community language of the customer.
Today we live in an amazing age of connectedness, that has never been seen before—ever. This is a world where each of us can help change the world we live in by simply changing the way we consume. Today a customer simply renewing their life insurance policy in Australia, can ensure 48 people in a developing country have their family life insurance premiums paid for another year, by an Australian purpose driven business. All because a conscious consumer in Australia, has chosen to do business with a conscious Small Business run by people wanting to do well and to do good.
Purpose in a business is often the tiebreaker between a customer’s choice. In practical terms purpose in a business reduces the distractions and helps a customer decide if our brand, is worthy to become part of their brand. Failing to implement an expression of purpose into your business would be like doing business in the 90’s and not implement technology into your business.
If your only differentiation in business is that you give ‘good customer service’ that’s no longer enough. That’s the entry point for business. So now that’s out, what else do you have that actually provides significance and meaning to your customer? Welcome to the Age of Purposeful Business: the first age made for and by Humans.
“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"
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