Why start a business? To make profit? You could do that by investing in someone else’s business. To make a living? You could do that by working for someone else – and with much more security! For fun? Get a hobby then – it’s cheaper!
Finding your True North
The only reason to start your own business – and to take significant risks – is to pursue your purpose. That’s why I tell aspiring entrepreneurs that purpose always comes first – Why?
With a clear purpose, you are happier. It is obvious that you feel good when you’re doing stuff that is dear to your heart and important to you. Every single day – however challenging – you know you have accomplished something, or at least taken another step on the road; on YOUR road. How fast you get there doesn’t matter so much. Because at the end of the day, progress is progress. And it brings you closer to what leadership guru Bill George calls “Your True North”.
Purpose makes you authentic, efficient and reinforced
With a clear purpose, you are authentic. Following your purpose is the surest way to be true to yourself. And the coolest thing is that authenticity is magnetic. It attracts the customers that fit you. The right team. The right partners. The right investors. Purposeful alignment around authentic values, goals and priorities gives you a shortcut to success. Because you avoid costly mistakes like trying to please everybody. Or trying to boil the ocean. You avoid distractions. And you save time.
With a clear purpose, you are more efficient. People waste an incredible amount of time and resources wandering through life. Wandering down dead ends. Struggling. Trying something different. Wondering if it was the right thing to do. Changing their minds about their goals. If you have a clear purpose, you won’t do any of those things. Because even when you make mistakes, you learn from them. Because you know why you make them and how they help you on your journey.
With a clear purpose, you are automatically reinforced. Once you’ve found your purpose, you’re going to give purpose to others, inspire them with your own commitment. And vice versa. Other people who share that commitment will inspire and encourage you. It’s a reinforcing loop.
Or to put it in Mark Twain’s words: “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”
So here’s the bottom line: First find your purpose. Then laser-focus on it. Because if you don’t find your own purpose, your priorities will be set by someone else. Maybe you’ll get lucky: maybe that someone else will have priorities that are perfectly aligned with your own (undiscovered) purpose. But more often than not, they will not. Luck is not a strategy when it comes to finding your purpose. So don’t leave it to luck!