Business Advice

How to define your purpose and values as a business

- April 6, 2023 3 MIN READ


If you’re in the business world, you will have heard the terms Vision, Mission, Values and Principles thrown around with abandon. These words can be confusing, and every website you look at will provide a different definition, writes small business mentor, Bronwyn Reid.

That’s why, when we tackled these concepts in our own environmental company, we decided to create our own definitions, starting from the bottom.

This gave us a solid framework, and a very clear picture of who we are, what we do, and why we do it.

What do we want to achieve?

Our first question was: What are the outcomes we want to achieve, as a company, as individuals, and as citizens? The next step in our thinking was, who do we need to get those outcomes?

Speaking as one of the company’s Directors, we certainly need a team. We need the partner companies we’ve built relationships with. Then there’s the suppliers of our equipment and services, and financiers to provide the necessary funds. All these stakeholders have a choice as to whether they will work with us, so we must do something to convince them to work with our company and not someone else.

The word we chose was trust. If they don’t trust us, they’re not going to work with us. The bank wouldn’t lend us money if they didn’t trust us to make a profit. You wouldn’t come and work with us if you didn’t trust us to provide you with a secure, interesting job. Trust is the key to successful business relationships.

How do we build trust?

What induces people to trust is what they see – our actions. Our team’s work, communication, and interaction with others demonstrate our trustworthiness.

What drives our actions?

This is where we start using more of those confusing words. It is our purpose, vision, mission, values and principles that drive our actions. In turn, what is it that bubbles to the surface that makes us decide what our vision, mission, values and principles will be?

Not every company has the same values and not every company has the same vision, mission and principles. (Most haven’t given it any thought at all!)

What makes us choose ours?

It’s our Purpose

Now we’re getting to the pointy end. We’ve been building from our outcomes at the bottom, to our purpose at the top.

Our purpose is the underlying bedrock of our company. It’s the reason we get up in the morning and the foundation for our vision, mission, values and principles. Our purpose drives our choices and guides us in building trust with our stakeholders.

After all that thinking, we decided upon our Purpose Statement:

“Our Purpose is achieving sustainability of our natural resources – meeting mankind’s needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

We recognise that, in order to exist on our planet, we have to utilise these resources around us – our soil, water, air and minerals.

But Earth’s resources are finite. We must use them responsibly and sustainably.

We support the managers of our natural resources who are responsible for sustainability: Miners, Farmers, Government Utilities, Business Owners.”

Defining your purpose can seem daunting, but it’s essential to building a successful company.

Think about the words that best summarise your underlying bedrock, the part of you all that makes sense and gives you the incentive to do what you do – even on the bad days.

Building a thriving company is about more than just making a profit. It’s also about making a difference, making things better – even if they’re only little things that matter to you and your company stakeholders. The profit will follow.

Now it’s your turn. What is your company’s purpose?

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Now read this:

Six steps to building a successful profit-with-purpose business strategy

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