Skip to main content
Professional DevelopmentRandom Thoughts On Business

Failing Forward – Purpose-Driven Business

By August 23, 2021October 13th, 2021No Comments

I admire anyone who is willing to risk their own capital on an idea. Most people don’t get it right on the first business, but they learn. The idea that the only reason to get into business is to make money is wrong. The most successful stories you hear about are by people who wanted to make a difference and start with a why. Now is the time for purpose-driven business…

Laugh-O-Gram Films had to close their doors after their financial partner went bankrupt, forcing Walt Disney to start up a new venture.
R.H. Macy had several failed ventures prior to starting Macy’s.
Henry Ford had two failed automotive companies before starting Ford Motor Company.
After starting and failing at selling parakeets and Christmas trees, Richard Branson went on to create Virgin.
Traf-O-Data read raw data from roadway traffic counters and create reports for traffic engineers, but after that business failed, Bill Gates started Microsoft.
After a failed venture in Lancaster, and a failed venture in New York, and a failed venture in Chicago, Milton Hersey returned to Lancaster, PA to launch the HERSHEY’S company.
More recently, Nick Woodson burnt through $4M in investment money in 2 years on Funbug. Considered one of the biggest busts of the dot com era, he later went on to create GoPro.


I highly doubt that money was the motivation for their drive. Entrepreneurs like those above are changing the world with models that don’t just innovate and succeed, but also change the world for the better. 

Purpose is at the heart of these businesses. Purpose-driven business means that leaders can use their business to achieve aims beyond the bottom line.

People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. +Simon Sinek

Creating A Purpose-Driven Business

If You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again

Now, remember for those ready to barrel into the entrepreneur business, none of the business books in the world won’t prepare you for the realities that you will face as an entrepreneur or starting a small business.  Experience will.

It’s best to craft a basic plan if you want to keep building towards a purpose-driven business. And success may not be instantaneous, and you may have a start over a couple of times. 

And hopefully, you learn something valuable each time you start over.

First, Tell Your Story

Storytelling is key for any business and even more so for those who preach purpose. Telling your story in a way that connects with customers will prove crucial to your success.

It may take a few tries to craft, clarify, and share your mission in a manner that connects and converts. Grab your favorite designer, copywriter, and strategist for the ultimate brainstorm session.

Wilderness Agency grew because our purpose made itself known throughout Dayton. We wanted to help businesses grow and put people back to work in a region that sorely needed a purpose itself.

purpose-driven business

Allow your story to resonate with your audience. Don’t force it upon them.

Second, Tie It To An Action

When creating your business model, clearly outline how your business objectives and their success will help you deliver on your mission. For the customer’s sake, make it apparent how giving you their business will make the mission a reality.

For example, Patagonia distributes a portion of its profits to promoting environmental sustainability and supporting grassroots environmental groups. Their mission continues to resonate greatly with consumers. 

Businesses are finding that younger generations want to support movements, not just businesses out to make a profit. Millennial consumers, who are driving the economy, often make choices based on the why of the company, rather than what they are selling. 

Overall, people of all ages want to follow something they truly believe in, and this includes the products or services they patronize.

Third, Surround Yourself With The Right Team

Unity is strength. . . when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved. +Mattie Stepanek

Achievements of such large scale don’t happen overnight…or by yourself. 

Surround yourself with people who care, who commit, who execute. As a team, establish a code of ethics and values consistent with the mission and hold each other accountable. Working with a dedicated team and valuing each others’ opinions through the lens of the greater mission will keep the business on track.

Fourth, Track The Numbers

Set a big goal and COMMIT.

Set milestones and let people know. You will have reason to hold yourself and your team accountable if you have steps to work towards.

The metrics you use to measure the success of your venture are a clear indication to people inside and outside your company of what’s really important to you. 

Use a framework like Lean Analytics to make sure that your metrics reflect your combined objectives and purpose. It’s easy to look at the monthly, quarterly, and yearly numbers, but what is their importance to the broader mission?

Finally, Deliver On Your Promises

You donated X amount of money to charity. You reduced homelessness in X city. Congratulations! Now, don’t neglect your customers. As stakeholders on your path to serve the greater mission, they need to be a priority.

First and foremost, every venture must solve a problem and deliver value. Don’t neglect the fundamentals of doing good business.