What Is Your Company’s Purpose? (And Why Does It Matter?)

May 15, 2023Strategy

Core values and mission statements must be more than pretty words on an About Us page for businesses to reach their full potential.

So let’s talk about what it really means for your company to have a purpose and how that purpose contributes to the long-term, sustainable success of your business. Digging deep into these considerations worked for my PR consulting business—and it can work for you!


Every Business Needs a North Star

Think of your company’s purpose (its mission, its core values) as your north star, providing guidance in uncertain times and acting as a focal point when distractions arise. No matter how the markets shift, no matter how your industry changes, your company’s purpose remains constant and unwavering.

A clear, common purpose at the helm of every project and process inspires big-picture planning, innovative thinking, and goal-oriented strategies.

Does your company have a north star? Did you help establish that purpose? Are you relying on that focal point to draw your business into an increasingly successful future?


A company’s true defining feature is its purpose

I’m currently guiding one of Goodwin Consulting’s public relations clients through a series of brand exercises aimed at developing messaging to emphasize the company’s differentiating qualities.

But what many businesses don’t consider is that what sets them apart is rarely a product or service itself. Instead, a company’s uniqueness comes from the way it presents those products and provides those services. And those approaches are defined by the company’s purpose.

A bold company purpose is bigger than any executive or owner. Purpose never wavers. The company’s purpose sets the tone for hiring and firing, marketing and selling, developing and growing, innovating and investing.  


Don’t confuse purpose with product

Sit down and think about your company’s current core values or mission statement. What do they say about what your business stands for? Do they reflect a clear, cohesive purpose?

All too often, businesses mistake purpose with product, but a widget seller’s purpose is not “selling widgets.” A wealth manager’s purpose isn’t “managing wealth.” Those are jobs, not purposes.

Jobs don’t keep people motivated and invested. Purpose does that.

Jobs drive paychecks. Purpose drives productivity.


Today’s employees want purpose, not day-to-day drudgery

Employees are increasingly unfulfilled with dispassionately working a nine-to-five and clocking out. They want their work to matter. They want to feel that their efforts contribute to something greater than a business’s bottom line. If you can’t provide that to your team, you will miss out on your industry’s best people.

No matter how you spin it, your people are the backbone of your business. And purpose-driven people are the force behind quality products, exceptional services, happy customers, and sustainable growth. In fact, purpose-driven people are the force behind MORE purpose-driven people.

Are you purpose-driven to celebrate these people? Did Employee Appreciation Day fly past without acknowledgement? That says more about your company than any core values or mission statement can ever convey.


Leaning into Purpose at Goodwin Consulting

Here at my PR consulting firm, the pandemic proved to be the catalyst for purpose-focused change.

Pre-COVID, I had recently invested in a wonderful new office space when my employees began expressing their interest in working from home. They craved the freedom to complete their work with flexibility that supported their own personal purposes—less time commuting, more time with family, mid-day dog walking, fewer workplace distractions.

Though initially I wasn’t thrilled by the idea, I agreed to ease slowly into some remote options. The end result? My public relations team was fully acclimated to remote work well before COVID’s lockdown requirements ever took effect.

Because I listened to my employees’ needs and honored the purpose at the forefront of my own work, not only did my employees benefit, but our clients also benefited as we began the COVID lockdown.

Today, most Goodwin employees and consultants work remotely. This flexibility allowed me to bring on a brilliant New York-based team member for whom I provide access to a work-share space that she can use whenever she needs a break from her Brooklyn apartment.

Employees who wish to work from the road also have that flexibility. As long as their public relations work gets done, I don’t care if the team member is in Boston or Bangladesh.

I’m not trying to push remote work on anyone. Not every organization can function well with remote staff. My point is that by caring for my people, I was doing a better job of caring for my company and my clients. When I stepped back and honestly assessed my PR consulting company’s purpose, I realized it would be best achieved with an element of flexibility I hadn’t previously considered.

And as it turns out, when you create a work environment that keeps people motivated, they won’t hesitate to go above and beyond for your company.


Purpose, embodied

Go ahead and print your core values on posters. Frame your mission statement for every cubicle and desk.

But if you want to proceed with purpose, you need more than words on paper. Your business must embody what it purports to care about.

Get help defining your company’s purpose! Reach out to Goodwin Consulting