Why does your business exist? That can be a hard question to answer once you’ve moved past the formative period in your company’s life. The company morphs and changes over time and the original purpose that defined the business can be lost or diluted.

John O’Brien, co-author of ‘The Power of Purpose’, underlines why it’s important that businesses retain their sense of purpose. In an article for SME Magazine, he says that businesses with a clear purpose are “far more engaged by their stakeholders”, while it also helps with decision making and business management.

However, another reason to keep coming back to purpose is so that you, the business owner, can keep your business on the course you set out for it and not suddenly find yourself at a destination you never intended to reach.

O’Brien has identified five steps he believes will help you find clarity of purpose:

1. Acknowledge that purpose is not mission or vision

Purpose is the fundamental reason you started the business in the first place. Whereas mission is what you’re going to do to achieve your purpose, and vision is the idealistic end goal. O’Brien gives the example of a health company which might have the purpose to help people to live healthy lives – the vision being to be a leading player in a thriving health market, and the mission to develop life-changing products.

2. Identify your current market and focus

What impact on the world do you see your business having through its market? In the case of the health company, it would be to increase access to affordable treatments.

3. Create your world reference point

Creating a reference point will help position exactly what you’re trying to do in the world and shape the language required to do so successfully. For example, by positioning the healthcare company as a caring company, when it presents itself to customers and other stakeholders, the marketing team understand what messages they need to convey.

4. Carefully consider your values

O’Brien believes that many businesses don’t put enough thought into the value questions, which creates problems when trying to engage with their audience. A clear set of carefully considered values – aligned to the values which you live by – are crucial for retaining the primary purpose of your business.

5. Ensure others can define the purpose

It’s just as important that others leaders in the business have clarity of purpose – they need to be able to explain in a simple sentence why the business exists. To make this happen, the values of you and the business need to be reinforced in all aspects of business management, policies, practices, visual identity, language and brand development.

If you feel like your business has moved away from its founding purpose, it’s not too late to find it again. Get in contact to discuss how you can go about bringing your business back to its origins.