How Entrepreneurs Can Find Purpose And Make Real Impact
Updated: Dec 13, 2022
I’ve been working with entrepreneurs for more than 20 years. I’ve interviewed more than 100 of them on my podcast Inter:views, Cracking The Entrepreneurship Code.
When they talk about entrepreneurship, they invariably use the same words and expressions.
Impact or purpose are 2 of the words that come back the most often.
Entrepreneurs are driven by impact
They usually dream big, to the point they want to change the world.
By becoming an entrepreneur, they’re in charge. Entrepreneurship gives them control over how much impact they can make. They can influence how things are done; they can challenge the status quo. As a company, they can contribute more than as an individual and can leave some sort of legacy behind them.
There are many ways entrepreneurs can make an impact: opening a social enterprise, focusing on a good cause, solving a painful problem for people as well as treating employees, clients, and suppliers correctly.
However, the journey always begins with finding a sense of purpose. Japanese people talk about Ikigai.
So, the most important question entrepreneurs need to ask themselves is: why am I doing whatever it is I am doing?
Entrepreneurs who make a difference have come up with an answer. They have found a reason for living (hint: it’s not money, it often evolves around helping others). They know why they wake up every morning, they understand their place on earth and in this life. It feels right to them.
Then, they align their business with their sense of purpose.
Let me give you an example: I was born to help people. I just can’t stop, it’s stronger than me.
I especially love all those “aha” moments people get when they have a breakthrough during a coaching session or a training course.
Doing what I do enables me to lead my clients to those moments over and over again. In my case, my clients are entrepreneurs and their leadership teams because this is the audience I feel comfortable working with.
Regardless of my audience, my purpose is a gift that keeps me awake and moves me forward like a beacon.
A female entrepreneur once told me if she’d known all the issues she’d had to go through, she wouldn’t have started her company.
This is a strong statement. It shows how difficult of a job being an entrepreneur is.
She thought about shutting down several times. She nearly bankrupted her business because of the pandemic. She persisted though, and despite all her hassles, her business is quite successful today.
When I asked what keeps her going, she said every time she struggles, she always reminds herself about why she set up on her journey. It helps her find the strength to continue.
Her purpose is her driving force.
As an entrepreneur myself, I know what she means. Knowing my purpose has clearly made my journey simpler.
It gives me clarity of direction. It helps me build my resilience.
When things get tough, I remember why I do what I do.
So, whenever I’m faced with a difficult decision to take, I ask myself whether it's aligned with my purpose or not. If it’s not, then the answer is simple: scrap it!
How To Find Your Purpose
Your purpose - that one thing you're meant to do - comes from a place of passion and authenticity.
You need to understand your inner motivations as well as your core strengths and use them to shape your business.
Think about what makes you, you. Follow your natural gifts, values, and uncompromising principles. It’s less about just selling a product or a service, and more about doing some good in this world.
You need to be very clear about who you truly are. Don’t lie to yourself.
Because the clearer you are within, the clearer you’ll be outside.
One great way to find it is to reconnect with your business's core idea.
Let me explain.
I always start my mentoring sessions with start-up founders I've never worked with, by asking them to introduce their companies in 2 minutes without pitching (in the start-up world, pitching has become the default habit, unfortunately).
I want their introduction to be as authentic and simple as possible, as I'm looking for their inner motivations as I wrote above.
Usually, they end up telling me what they do.
So the next step is to understand why they do it.
To find out, I ask a follow-up question:
How did you come up with your business idea?
And most of the time, something amazing happens: they start smiling as they recall the moment when it all started, and little by little, they forget they are in a mentoring session, and they let go.
That's when they become authentic, and as they do, they reconnect with the core idea upon which the business was created.
Your business happened for a reason - your core idea - and it will never change.
Use it as your beacon.
When your purpose and your product all come together, you will create a real impact. Things will get clearer, difficult decisions will become easier, it will drive your business, help you design your offer, dictate who your ideal clients are, attract talents, provide you with sharp focus, and gather all your people under the same banner.