Why is purpose so important?
We hear so often that purpose is an integral part of any business’ success and the first to tell us why was Joanna Swash, CEO of leading customer service firm, Moneypenny. “Your purpose is why you do what you do. It should be the heart of your structure, your objectives, and your corporate identity, no matter how big your business grows.” This sentiment was echoed by former Wagamama CEO, Emma Woods, who described it as “the dent you are trying to make in the universe. It isn’t just a bumper sticker, something you slap on a wall to look good; it really has to drive your business.” Purpose feeds into your culture and provides team members with a mission to throw themselves into. It is critical that every member of your business shares your belief in this mission, only then will they work their hardest to help your enterprise achieve its goals.
How does your purpose change as you scale-up?
The panel’s response to this question was simply that it shouldn’t, only the way it is executed should. Serial investor and Partner at BGF, Daina Spedding, was keen to offer her thoughts on this subject. “It is relatively easy for a small team, in a start-up for instance, to be on the same page. The CEO can be present in almost every meeting and is therefore able to ensure the team remains focused on the company purpose. As a business scales, however, this becomes more difficult; it is inevitable that the CEO won’t be present for every conversation or meeting. This is the time that you must write down your purpose. You need to ensure that it remains at the centre of every decision your business makes, and to do this, literally everyone in your company must know its purpose.” One of the most effective ways of doing this is to use the ‘one page rule’. This is the idea that your purpose, vision, and values must all fit onto one page and everyone in your organisation must know and understand them.
How do you ensure your leadership team buys into your purpose?
Recent founder of The You Effect, and partner of S.W. Mitchell Capital, Nadia Manzoor, offered her tips for finding people you can trust to propagate your purpose. “For me, hiring is so important. You really need to ask why candidates want to work with you and if they are truly going to share your vision.” In short, CEOs need to know who they are hiring, rather than what they are hiring.
Nevertheless, the question of precisely how to do this remains, and the answer, according to Nadia, lies in the utility of progressive interview techniques. “You can ask people about their values and beliefs, of course, but that still comes down to how genuine they are. I think you should aim to conduct multiple interviews, and not exclusively office interviews, either. Invite potential hires for a coffee, or even a drink. See how they are in more informal environments, that will give you a more accurate understanding of their true nature and whether they are a good fit for your business.” Finding people of this ilk will undoubtedly help your business to grow, which will lead to the question of investment and how to secure it.
What do financiers look for in a potential investment?
Daina’s vast experience as a serial investor made her the perfect panel member to answer this question. “You need to figure out what is special about your business, what sets it apart from others in the same market. There must be a barrier that makes it difficult for other companies to do what you do.” She referred to this concept as the ‘secret sauce’, which might seem like something completely unique or ground-breaking, but this isn’t the case: “Yes, sometimes it is deep tech, intellectual property, something completely new that needs to be invented from scratch, but often it is something much less tangible. It could be something like outstanding customer service, or super engaging content that you can create with a small marketing budget.” In short, businesses who want to scale must be able to prioritise. They must know what they do best and what to focus on to transform that into as significant an advantage over competitors as possible.