Why Are You?

Businesses are big on mission statements and slogans.

They often start with phrases like, “We exist in order to…”

Often, these statements and slogans come up empty.

Cliché.

Insincere.

Do you have a mission statement?

Does your business have a slogan?

Why?

I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot lately.

It seems to me that if most businesses were honest, their mission statement would be something like this: “we exist to make a profit anyway we can, for as long as we can, until we get caught.”

Now, I’m not against capitalism. I am 100% in favor of profitable businesses.

But if the philosophy of your business is summed up in “making a profit anyway you can until you get caught”, I think you’re in deep trouble.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are those organizations who struggle financially, but are out to “save the world”. Many non-profits fit this description.

Many of these organizations seem to think the profit motive is inherently evil.

If you think money is evil, chances are you won’t have very much of it.

What if, instead, you adopted a completely outrageous, over-the-top explanation of why your company exists? Of why you exist?

What if your reason for existing was “to save the world, and make a profit in the process.”

What would happen next?

This seems like a good question worth exploring.

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Ray Edwards is a world-renowned copywriter and communications strategist, writing for some of the most powerful voices in leadership and business including New York Times bestselling authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and Tony Robbins. Ray is a sought-after speaker and author, hosts a popular weekly podcast, and blogs at RayEdwards.com.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • DanaSusanBeasley

    Such a great question, Ray! Knowing the “why” of my business gives me great clarity. Yes, that includes making a profit so I can bless my family and bless others. But it’s also knowing that I am building a future for myself and my family so I always have the choice to homeschool my special needs son. It’s the joy of helping others achieve economic freedom, and even more than that, stepping out into the callings that God has given them. And the most ultimate of all, which I have clearly stated on my website, is to be a vehicle for God’s glory. That’s no cliche to me!
     

  • http://www.Christian-Parenting.org dhammett

    Great question! As you point out businesses will not be open in wording their real goal is money and only money. But their actions show and eventually their business will fail. 
    To make money is not the issue as you point out, but to have a higher purpose is needed for a business and for any person to truly prosper.
    Sadly the realization that a business pursued the wrong goal comes way too late and the business is lost…kind of like the realization an individual comes too, far too late that they lived for things of no eternal value.
    To gain all the world offers and miss the real reason for living is sad indeed. That is the ultimate loss. 

  • JimZaccaria

    Good points, Ray. Focusing on the ‘Why’ of Business… AND that it Isn’t ‘Bad’ to earn a profit in the process of ‘doing good’
    – Service WITH Profit AND Profit WITH Service
    – The More I Earn, the More I will be able to Serve.

  • williammcpeck

    This post has certainly generated a number of questions for me….
     
    Why should a business not make money any way it can so long as it is legal, moral and ethical?  Isn’t that what having multiple streams of income is all about?
     
    As someone who serves on multiple non-profit Boards, I cannot agree that NPOs “seem to think that the profit motive is evil.”  A good  – evil discussion has never even occurred at our Board meetings.
     
    Why does every organization have to exist or be in the business of saving the world?  Why is not sufficint enough to just do no harm?

    • http://www.Christian-Parenting.org dhammett

       @williammcpeck William, while I would not attempt to speak for Ray or any others in the posts…I do not get the idea anyone here is against making money. 
      I personally do think it very dangerous to make money the priority factor in a business or non-profit. If it is priority number one, if have found that the legal, moral and ethical standards are mere words and not substance when money becomes first place. 
      However, as you point out, if those three standards are clear and consistent then I think money is obviously needed to keep any business or non-profit alive. Financial rewards are not evil, it is just when they become the ‘god’ that drives everything else we must get honest and admit that those standards get left in the dust.

  • http://www.leadershipprocess.com Dennis McIntee

    Love this post! When people understand your why, they will buy into your how. I think it’s about having clarity about your intention and then communicating it with the world!