Entrepreneurs face many risks when starting a company, and they must contend with a wide range of struggles on their way to success. For many entrepreneurs, the primary motivation to persevere lies in an intense sense of purpose. Purpose gives entrepreneurs a reason to accept risk and continue pushing when hopes are running particularly low.
In general, entrepreneurs are motivated by a desire to address a societal problem or to improve the daily life of others—and believing in themselves to follow through is a critical element to success. With a strong sense of purpose, entrepreneurs can ensure that their actions bring them closer to achieving their goals. Some strategies for cultivating a greater sense of purpose through entrepreneurship include the following:
1. Define your intention.
Purposeful entrepreneurs are motivated less by their specific business ideas and more by their intentions. When you invest in an idea and it fails, it can seem like your whole enterprise is doomed. By focusing instead on an intention, you can reposition yourself to learn from that failure and devise a new strategy for working toward your goals. When you have intention, you focus more on the journey than the destination, which is key to moving past occasional setbacks.
2. Create a network.
Once you define your long-term goals and understand what you hope to accomplish with your work, it is important to find a community of other individuals with a similar sense of purpose. These can be peers or mentors, both of whom provide a different perspective.
A like-minded community can be crucial in getting you through difficult circumstances or offering guidance when it comes to making important decisions. People with similar senses of purpose can inspire each other to explore new pathways and help cultivate more creative approaches to longstanding problems.
3. Inspire employees.
Employees perform best when they buy into the greater vision behind the work. You should seek out employees who have similar values as you and inspire you with their sense of purpose.
When employees align their drive with the greater purpose behind the company, they will feel more satisfaction at work, which can mean lower turnover and higher productivity for you. As the brains of the business, you can clearly see the link between what the company is currently doing and its greater goals, but making this trajectory clear to your employees allows them to understand why their work really matters and how it could make a difference in the future.
4. Engage the community.
Entrepreneurs are likely not the only individuals in a community with a vision for a better future. Defining a sense of purpose may mean engaging members of the community, who can perhaps look at an issue from a different angle. Entrepreneurs have their own influential power—they can create a real movement by selling their vision to the larger community.
Community members are more likely to get involved with a purpose that will directly affect their lives or that they can personally relate to. Organizing community events is a great way to get people excited about your ideas and build key connections at your company.
5. Feel free to experiment.
When entrepreneurs are motivated by a sense of purpose rather than a specific idea, they learn the value of experimentation. Through experimentation, you can figure out what works best for moving you toward your long-term goal. You will also become more comfortable putting something imperfect onto the market to see how customers respond, which, in turn, provides invaluable information for how to make that product better. If you get more attached to an idea of a product than an ultimate purpose, you will find the product harder and harder to let go of, keeping you from achieving your goals.
6. Get customer buy-in.
Consumers will not typically purchase a product just because it serves a higher purpose. However, they will often choose a product that serves a greater purpose over an equivalent one.
Millennials and members of generation Y have demonstrated their eagerness to support organizations that are driven by purpose. These customers will often pay slightly more for a product that makes a real, tangible impact in the world.
You should show your customers how they can make a difference by supporting your company and then demonstrate the difference that your organization has already made. Doing this will help secure buy-in from customers and ensure that the company gets the cash flow it needs to continue toward your long-term goals.
7. Take stock of your values.
When you understand your personal values, you can ensure that your professional goals align with them. Aligning values with work is one of the best ways to discover a true sense of purpose in the workplace. You should have a clear sense of what you consider important and ingrain these values into the fabric of your company. Doing this helps to attract employees with similar values. Companies thrive when everyone is on the same page and has similar goals.