If you have one day decided to become an entrepreneur, it is certainly to be in control of your decisions and to offer a unique product or service to a specific clientele. But what is your deep motivation on a daily basis? And what is the impact of your business on a larger scale? Follow the guide to define your raison d’être and understand why it is essential to advance your business …
Why it is essential to define its purpose
The raison d’être of your company is your DNA, your general ambition. Like a strategic compass, it plays a central role in your daily life, to give meaning to your actions. It relies on the past to resonate in the present and the future. Since May 2019, with the PACTE law, it is even possible to include it in your statutes. The goal: to show that your company combines financial results and a mission of general interest.
Several reasons can push you to define your purpose:
- Give more meaning to your actions;
- Connect to your customers and employees, who can identify themselves easily;
- Stand out from the competition with a concrete commitment;
- Specify your long-term project and ensure healthy growth.
The purpose of a business is also called its “why”. This concept was widely spread thanks to Simon Sinek, the author of the book “Start with why”. For Simon Sinek, every entrepreneur must question himself on 3 fundamental questions: the what, the how and the why.
- The what (what) determines the service or good you are selling;
- The how (how) designates its implementation in the market;
- Finally, the why (why) defines the underlying reason for this business and indicates the societal issue on which you have a specific impact.
Your why will act as an arbiter in your short and medium term decisions. On its own, it plays a role of introspection and gives you the capacity to act. If you are already working in a team, it’s a safe bet that this work will help you build your leadership and unite your partners and collaborators around a common vocation. So, are you ready to define your purpose?
5 tips to define your purpose
The raison d’être is translated into a precise and impactful sentence. And this is the whole difficulty: it is a single sentence, which summarizes the essence and the trajectory of your business. Here are the different steps to follow to obtain the most ambitious and relevant formulation possible.
Analyze the existing … and the competition
Start by looking at what is happening around you. Far from wanting to copy and paste what is done at the neighbor’s, the idea is above all to analyze the approach of your competitors, to better understand what resonates in your market. Then answer these different questions: Why did you create this project? What is it used for ? What is its added value for society? Who are the beneficiaries and what do you want to bring to them?
Work on your values
It is in your values that you will draw on your reason for being. Those that you advocate, but also and especially those that you bring to life through your commitments and actions. Innovation, team spirit, integrity, respect… are all values that can stick to your business. Choose 5 or 6, focusing on those that resemble you and bring you together, if you are surrounded by a team.
Lean on your memories
It may seem strange, but it is the very judicious advice given by many coaches and entrepreneurs like Onur Karapinar, author of the book “Small habits, great successes”. Recalling memories, happy or more difficult, allows you to pinpoint emotions that marked you with a hot iron. It is by connecting different feelings that you will be able to explain your deep motivations and your commitment to a particular fight. What did you like or dislike about this experience? What makes her special? What lesson do you draw from it? So many questions that can be asked by a partner, who will be able to remain objective and help you formalize the theme of your why.
The collective is essential in this matter, especially if you have a team around you. Defining your purpose together is a good way to solidify your corporate culture, which allows individual interests to be aligned with collective interests. What could be better than an employee who shares your values and the meaning of your approach? Do not hesitate to inspire one or two meetings, have your collaborators work in a group and then share the different ideas that emerge from this work. The ideal: to have everyone around the table, not just the leaders! Do not hesitate to merge the complementary ideas to retain the essence of your project.
Write a clear and concise sentence
With these different elements in hand, you are ready to write your rationale. This sentence should be simple, clear and expressed in affirmative language. It focuses on the effect you will have on others while recalling your reality. You can build on this model: (your contribution) so that (your impact). This is the model chosen by Simon Sinek himself: “Inspiring people to do what inspires them so that together we can change the world”.
Here are a few varied examples to help you formalize your why:
- Agence Déclic, consulting firm: Contribute to making our territories more efficient and sustainable;
- Naturalia: Give the freedom to do good to people and to nature;
- Decathlon: Make the pleasure and benefits of practicing sport over the long term accessible to as many people as possible;
- Le slip français: Commit to and with partners to build a fairer, more innovative, agile textile industry with a rich, creative and active ecosystem;
- Nutriset: Provide effective proposals to the problems of nutrition / malnutrition of children;
- Google: Disseminate quality information to as many people as possible;
- Apple: Unleash creativity.
Warning ! This is not a marketing formulation. The more understandable this sentence is, the easier it will be to adopt. As a group, care will be taken to choose the formulation that suits all the players.
The best test to know if you have clearly written your why is to put yourself in the shoes of someone applying to your company. Do I believe that this company can contribute to a positive transformation? Do I share his beliefs? Are his actions consistent with his message?
Communicate on its purpose
We have already talked about it, the raison d’être is a good tool to express your uniqueness. But how do you put it forward in your communication? In the first place, it is a question of making it appear in your corporate tools. Why not devote a page to it on your website, including a manifesto of your commitments? BNP Paribas, Danone and the Red Cross have understood this well. Press relations also play a key role: do not hesitate to publish a press release or even a press kit on your approach and your values.
To go further, you can also initiate partnerships with other organizations having a common stake. Join movements, networks, to bring your why to life and make it tangible. Why not measure your impact? Many measurement tools are popping up to help you determine where you are in your engagement.
Finally, your reason for being can become the common thread of your content strategy. With your why in mind, you will more easily find a way to create authentic content! Blog articles, posts on social networks, newsletters… Expressing your values and promoting your initiatives is a good way to improve your notoriety and ensure that your messages are in line with your purpose.
Defining your raison d’être may seem tedious, but it is a very rich job and very useful to move your business forward! So that your why is aligned with your daily actions, do not hesitate to make it evolve over time.