I may be a bit old-fashioned, but I have always looked at a business first for its potential ability to be self-sustaining, and provide reasonable profits to feed my family, my lifestyle, and my retirement. Then secondly, I look for it to be a business I can enjoy, with the potential to change the world. Today, these top priorities of many entrepreneurs seem to have reversed.
I used to think this purpose phenomenon was primarily associated with Gen Y (Millennials), who grew up in a world of plenty. Now I see it also in Boomers, like Bill Gates, who have the longevity to enjoy a second career, this time prioritizing the purpose they may have sought in their youth. Even Generation X leaders, like Elon Musk, seem to be focusing more on purpose.
Thus I feel obligated as a startup mentor to look harder at how entrepreneurs can achieve the purpose objective, while still build a sustainable business. Thus I should not have been surprised by a new book by Aaron Hurst, "The Purpose Economy." He argues that the next generation of corporate business and even the political economy is emerging based on the creation of purpose.
He starts by debunking the key myths that most successful business people in my generation have long held as facts. I will paraphrase his debunking of the key myths here:
Thus Hurst argues that purpose is for everyone, regardless of profession or socio-economic status. It is not about a cause or something that we discover by revelation. It is a challenging and rewarding journey.
It's also not related to the business model, or type of business you might start. Your business doesn't have be a non-profit or Benefit Corporation (B-Corp) to embody purpose. In fact, there are several business organizations that are intended to help you find and foster your purpose, including Conscious Capitalism® movement led by John Mackey, The B Team, led by Sir Richard Branson, the 1% for the Planet organization, but none of these are really required for purpose.
Thus, I'm convinced that it's time to recognize the pursuit of purpose as a real and positive trend, which extends into and from the economy and markets that entrepreneurs serve. Every entrepreneur needs to take a hard look at their own business culture and goals, to see how well they have adapted and capitalized on this trend. Now you should have more fun at work, get more satisfaction, and be more successful at the same time. Are you there?
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