Business significance is a lot more than a healthy bottom line. Business significance is the answer to the question, “What is your purpose on earth?” Certainly profit is important; without profit there is no survival, and without survival there is no opportunity for significance. But significance extends beyond profit. Profit is the means, significance is the end.
At a basic level, all businesses have significance. They provide a product which is needed by a customer; they provide employment and contribute to the tax base.
Yet many business leaders strive to reach beyond the economic return on investment, and aspire to a greater good. They set their sights on serving a higher purpose and making a significant impact on the world.
Creating Business Significance
What is your purpose? What legacy do you hope to leave behind? And how can you create business significance?
- Explore the issues which resonate with you, and with others in your organization. The needs of the world are infinite; there are unlimited opportunities to make a difference.
- Assess your resources. These may include the products and services you provide, as well as less tangible resources such as business relationships, access to capital, community connections, available time, and more.
- Identify opportunities to serve.
- Brainstorm possibilities. You may choose to focus on a local, national or international level. You contribution might be a financial donation, or an in-kind contribution, or volunteer labor for a work project, or sponsoring a mission trip.
- Alternatively, significance might be incorporated as an integral part of your organization. For example, a coffee company with a commitment to the post-prison population has developed processes to screen, train and employ these individuals to return them to the workforce. Or your significance might rest on something as basic as a profound commitment to integrity and service.
Can a commitment to significance help your bottom line? Maybe. Some consumers are attuned to those organizations serving a greater good, and selectively patronize them. Decisions made to support a social commitment may also have a negative impact on profit, if, for example, you choose to source materials from environmentally conscious providers rather than more commercial mass providers.
What is your purpose? How can you serve a purpose greater than profit? What will be your legacy? Think, act and create a business with significance.