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Doing Business on Purpose

In a bottom-line driven world, purpose may sound like a vague and pointless concept on which to focus your energy.

Most organisations still believe that purpose and profit are mutually exclusive, but some of the world’s most remarkable businesses have been built with purposeful intent. Indeed, it is becoming increasingly clear that to be a leading brand today you need to be fully in touch with why you exist.

To truly understand your purpose businesses need to assess, align and activate

Assess Your Environment

Your purpose needs to be relevant to your ecosystem, your customers and their communities. Ask:

  • What are the most important needs, aspirations of my customers?
  • What frustrations and setbacks do my customers struggle with?
  • What communities do I impact with my business?
  • What social issues negatively impact on my business?

Align to Your Organisational Truth

However you choose to define your overarching purpose, it should be rooted in what you do best.

  1. Rediscover your history and heritage: Many businesses have lost touch with the reason why they started in the first place.
  2. Identify the core values, beliefs and passions of your people: Find out what really motivates them and makes them get up in the morning.
  3. Map your organisational strengths: Purpose will only have an impact if it leverages the strengths of the business.

Activate Internally

An accurately defined, relevant purpose can only drive change if it connects with your people.

  1. Inspire employees: Articulate the purpose in a rallying-call and knit it into all internal communication.
  2. Look for a values fit when hiring: Change recruitment processes to prioritise value-alignment with your business purpose.
  3. Track and measure to embed purpose in the culture: Determine the right metrics to ensure you are behaving purposefully.

Activate Externally

Communicating your purpose can be tricky – it runs the risk of sounding like ‘good washing’. The easiest way to avoid this is to do the good first, and then talk about it.

  1. Show your purpose: At the most impactful moments
  2. Prove you’re making progress: With tangible changes and communicate your successes
  3. Collaborate for higher impact: With other businesses, and with your customers and employees
  4. Think engagement, not advertising: Facilitate experiences and activities that educate your consumers.

Doing business ‘on purpose’ will enable you to deliver more value to your stakeholders, and will ultimately grow your bottom line.

To download Yellowwood’s White Paper, Doing Business on Purpose, 2013, please visit


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