How to find (and use) your core business purpose for meaningful success

5 min |

Earlier this year, in one of my favourite business networking groups (the Female Entrepreneur Association Member’s Club), a fellow solopreneur who was in the start-up phase and working on her web copy, asked:

“I’m creating my new website at the moment and I was wondering if anyone has good tips on how to find the core of your business?”

When I take on a new client, the very first thing I do is dive right into their core of their business to unearth their values, purpose and {magical} transformation qualities, including their client essence and differentiator.

We must do this before even starting to write any copy – read on to find out why.


So, what counts as the core of your business?

Your core is NOT your USP {unique selling proposition}, point of difference or competitive advantage.

It’s the guiding ethos of your company.


/ˈiːθɒs/ Noun

The characteristic spirit of a culture, era, or community as manifested in its attitudes and aspirations.

Oxford English Dictionary

You may refer to your business’ core as your:

  • Mission
  • Philosophy
  • Purpose
  • Ideology
  • Values

I like to compare the life of a business to a river, where the Source is full of your guiding principles and gushes into everything you do.


Why bother developing a business philosophy?

As a small business owner, it’s pretty impossible to separate out your personal values from your business. What drives you as an individual affects your business, the two are intrinsically interwoven.

Getting clear on your Source {core} means you’ll choose which values and mission to focus on and start using them in an active manner, rather than letting everything filter through in a hodgepodge, passive way.


If you have a clear Source, your business river will sparkle and flow with momentum. Click To Tweet

Whether you’re just starting out, rebranding or diligently working away, take a day out to drill down to your Source and craft a mission statement, manifesto or philosophy. You can use this framework to guide your:

  • Content and copywriting {Phraseology}
  • Marketing
  • Branding & visual identity
  • Choice of staff, freelancers and contractors
  • Company culture
  • Sales process
  • Customer journey
  • Growth trajectory
  • Customer service
  • Deeper message
  • Community impact…

…and it generally comes down to “Why?”.


How can you get clear on your core business purpose?

As a solopreneur, you can develop a clear Source by asking yourself questions like the following {got a notebook at the ready?! You can also download the worksheet below}:

  1. Personal values:
    1. What do I stand for?
    2. The main personal values I live my life by, are…?
    3. What keeps me going against all odds?
    4. The differences I want to see in the world are…? Because…?
    5. Why do people need me? Why do they come to me?
    6. What kind of impact do I want to have?
  2. Which personal values do I want to be the driving force of my business?
  3. Professional mission
    1. I go above and beyond, because…?
    2. The people that have the most inspirational influence on me, are…? Because?
    3. I can’t stand this about my industry… I would change it by…?
    4. The transformation I give my clients/customers is…?
    5. The impact on my clients’ lives, is…?

Download your worksheet here

These are similar to some of the questions I ask my clients during our Discovery Questionnaire, which helps me develop their Ideal Client Compass and informs the deeper message in their copy and content.

Once you’ve defined your ethos / Source, you can move onto developing the core purpose statement of your business.

This can be in the form of a mission statement, a sequence of policies, like the example below, company manifesto or any kind of document; in addition to the second-most important on your website, your About page.


Holstee – the viral manifesto

What started as clothing company owners opening up about their aims to live mindful, purposeful lives, turned into one of the most recognisable manifestos shared online and a wildly successful business.

In 2009, Holstee began making responsibly-produced t-shirts with holster-pockets, but not long after posting their manifesto on their About page, the poster went viral.

Cut to 2017 and, after runs with pendants, bibs, yoga mats, pot-luck dinners, a “cubicle survival kit” and other experimental products; they’re now {last I checked} selling wall art, cards and posters along with a member’ subscription with monthly themed prints, guides and “curated resources”. Themes, born out of their manifesto, include kinship, simplicity, compassion, adventure…

All because an intern said , “Guys, let’s just make the fucking poster.”

Holstee manifesto creates a purpose-driven business

While the shift towards “cause-based consumerism” and buyers wanting to know the {hi}story of how and where their goods are produced continues to grow, it’s Holstee’s manifesto which has captured the imagination of so many people.

Their manifesto has become their product.

Don’t write a manifesto you think your ideal clients will love, create one you’d let your business live {and die} by! Click To Tweet

When you look closer and analyse the words, some will agree the simple expressions are kinda cliché, but that’s the point – clichés may often come off cheesy, but they’re TRUE.

Holstee’s manifesto connects with so many people on a deeper level, because we’re all searching how to make our life more meaningful and we know deep down the simple truths matter.

My question to you is, do your product &/or services live up to your core purpose? How can you ensure your audience know how purpose-driven you are?


The 5 important characteristics of a company’s core purpose

As Wendy Maynard, co-founder of Kinesis , explores on their blog, different companies from completely different sectors can have the same core purpose.

Taken from Jim Collins and Jerry Poras Built to Last book, their six-year study of “visionary companies”, state these five core purpose characteristics:

  1. It’s inspiring to those inside the company.
  2. It’s something that’s as valid 100 years from now as it is today.
  3. It should help you think expansively about what you could do but aren’t doing.
  4. It should help you decide what not to do.
  5. It’s truly authentic to your company.

“An effective purpose reflects the importance people attach to the company’s work—it taps their idealistic motivations—and gets at the deeper reasons for an organisation’s existence beyond just making money.” ~ Jim Collins and Jerry Poras

As you can see from the five points above, your core purpose is about YOU, not your ideal client. It’s about the values and mission you choose to instil throughout your company – the deeper meaning behind WHY you do what you do.

Once you’ve figured that out and are actively using that throughout your communications, the people who’d fall into your dream customers and brand ambassador audience will naturally gravitate towards your business {and champion it}.

You don’t need to start a movement – infusing everything with your core purpose gives you more meaningful success + stellar results. Click To Tweet


Why you should make time to revisit your Source

Your business is constantly evolving and, as our wisdom deepens and our relationships grow, our business matures and goes through new phases of growth.

When you revisit your core purpose periodically, you can check in to make sure your content and communications are on-message, as well as the other touchpoints, like customer relationships, company culture etc, are still in-line with the same core purpose.

To be honest, you’ll probably find the core of your business hasn’t changed, but the way you talk about it may require an update or modification.


Do you already have a manifesto or core identity framework? Have you started one but you’re not sure how to finish it?

How are you currently using your brand values in your marketing and content?

Let’s chat about it in the comments below…