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Pinpoint Your Purpose – Why the Why Matters
In business, a lot of time is spent focussing on practical, tangible outcomes. Making sales. Creating budgets. Designing workflow processes. Creating marketing collateral. Answering emails. In the busy day to day, those sacred hours where we squeeze in “real work” between meetings, it can be easy to become bogged down in what we do and how we do it. It’s all too easy for the “why” to become neglected.
As a start-up, the “what” and “how” of operations are, by requirement, a focus. Setting up the processes that are going to carry the business forward can be challenging in a period where staffing is low and pressure to create revenue is high. Even the simplest of actions, like calculating a quote and taking a sale, require an expenditure of energy and time to set up. Any savvy business person knows that this work pays off in a compounding fashion – but the initial investment required can be high. If not controlled, focussing on the what and how can become all consuming – a time vampire that takes energy away from other areas.
So what keeps us going, and what are the guiding principles that sit above what we do? That is the why. Why are we in business? What are we really selling? More importantly, what opportunity are we providing to our customers and how are we helping to improve the world we live in?
Hemp Squared is in the business of hemp-lime blocks for housing construction. We help people build houses. But with a plethora of options in the housing market, we need a greater reason to exist. We provide a product that helps people build very good homes. Homes that are good for inhabitants – comfortable and affordable. Homes that are good for the earth – sequestering atmospheric carbon while reducing emissions and landfill. Homes for people who care about the health of themselves and the environment.
Reducing humanity’s contribution to climate change, for the benefit of all people, is our why. Time and again when faced with obstacles or questions about how best to do business we have returned to the why to determine the best way forward. How will we package our product? It must be eco-friendly in accordance with our values. How will we manage our staff? We’d be hypocritical to endeavour to help save the world while treating our staff, who help us enact our vision, poorly.
At an executive or management level, much of business is about how we respond to challenges and opportunities. With a guiding set of morals, identifying the correct response can be simpler.
Every business, just like every person, will have their own why. But understanding your why has more benefits than simply providing an overarching principle to apply to strategic decision making. Knowing your why can help with identifying measuring sticks for success across an organisation. For many businesses, growth is about more than simply increasing profits – though profits are indeed important! But by aligning growth with your business’s reason for being, you can ensure all parts of your organisation grow in the right way.
Being clear on your values can also strengthen support from your existing customers and fans, improve your reputation in the market and make you a more attractive prospect for collaborators, values-driven investors and new customers. It also promises greater engagement from your employees. If the why resonates with staff members, they are likely to find greater satisfaction in their role through their contributions to the organisation’s goals, rather than just the pay they take home each week.
So, what’s your why and how you making it part of everything you do?
Hemp Squared is a Bridgetown-based start-up manufacturing hemp-lime blocks for sustainable housing. Find out more at www.hemp-squared.com