Last year, just over a third of small businesses grew their revenue. That gives you an idea of how hard it is to scale a startup. One mistake many entrepreneurs make is to think that growth is simply about increasing sales. True expansion demands more than just a great product or idea. You need a mission.
When a business has a clear and distinct purpose, it attracts the kind of employees who will drive growth. People who fit the culture of your company, share your ambitions and bring passion and enthusiasm to everything they do are 30% more likely to be high performers than those just there for the paycheck.
Having a mission also appeals to customers. Edelman’s Earned Brand 2018 report states that 64 percent of consumers take a brand’s principles into account when buying a product. Connecting with customers over shared values is a great way to build brand loyalty.
Finally, your purpose will guide your growth. Scaling is often where a business loses sight of what’s most important. A mission will keep you on the right path no matter how quickly growth comes.
It’s not always easy to know what your ultimate goal should be. Here are three tips for uncovering the mission that will drive growth at your business.
- Make your customers central to your mission
Having worked in fashion publishing, Emily Weiss decided to start a blog where models, stylists and makeup artists would share their daily beauty routines. Soon her readers began sharing their own tips and advice with each other. Weiss realized that this community could shake up a beauty industry that typically relied on experts and brands to set the standards.
She founded Glossier, a beauty products company with a mission to democratize beauty. When creating a new moisturizer, the company asked customers for ideas and received more than 1000 responses. When marketing products, Glossier sends samples to its most engaged fans instead of the usual media outlets and social influencers. By making customers central to its mission, Glossier has grown from one woman writing a blog to a 150-person company that has raised more than $86m in funding.
- Go back to your why
In Start With Why, writer Simon Sinek emphasizes the importance of purpose by stating “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”. Yet most startups inevitably focus on developing a product or service and finding customers. When they finally get time to outline a mission, they are so consumed with “what they do”, they’ve lost sight of their “why”.
As my business started to grow rapidly, I went back to the very beginning in order to articulate our purpose. I created our flavoured water drinks to solve a specific problem: I wanted to stop drinking sugary sodas but found water boring. Ultimately, I wanted to be healthier, so I took that “why” and expanded it to a mission of making people enjoy water again. This mission impacts who we hire, the new products we introduce and other decisions we make as we’ve become a multimillion-dollar business.
- Don’t make your mission about what you’re selling
Not all businesses produce worthy or world-changing products or services. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have an inspiring mission. Warby Parker began life after business school graduate Neil Blumenthal wondered why people weren’t buying glasses online. Blumenthal thought about this because he was also involved in a non-profit organization that trained women in developing world to give eye tests. So, he and his co-founders made this social cause part of their company’s mission.
When you buy Warby Parker glasses, a pair is also donated to people in need. Blumenthal acknowledges that this isn’t the main reason why customers buy their products. But having a social conscious is core to the business as a whole: “To be customer first, you need to be employee first. And to be employee first, you need to be mission-driven.” It’s definitely working. Warby Parker was valued at $1.75 billion earlier this year.
Creating true brand believers
Whatever your businesses, chances are you’re not the only company out there offering that product or service. Even if you are doing something unique, others will try and replicate your success. To stand out you need to give people a reason to believe in your brand. Your purpose is that reason. And as it informs every person you hire, product you make and action you take, your mission will become the main driver of growth for your business.
I am the founder and CEO of San Francisco–based hint, which produces the leading flavoured water with no sweeteners and nothing artificial. I founded The Kara Network and recently launched my podcast Unstoppable to tell the stories of entrepreneurs and founders.