The Hidden Connection Between Purpose and Profit
Updated: Apr 6
Yvon Chouinard grew up in Southern California. Early on in life, he became obsessed with rock climbing and quickly became one of the sport's top competitors. Like so many of us, his first business came out of his own personal problems he was facing in his own life. To better suit his own climbing needs, Chouinard began making his own climbing gear. This hobby business became an official one under the banner of Chouinard Equipment.
In the 1970s, Chouinard began to notice the impact that the sport of climbing and other outdoor activities were having on the environment. He wanted to create environmentally-friendly products that promoted sustainable practices. That led him to found Patagonia in 1973.
Yvon has been very clear on his company's purpose from day one.
He wanted to build a company committed to taking care of the planet and he put his money where his mouth was.
Starting in 1985, they began donating 1% of their sales to the preservation and restoration of the natural environment. That is over $140M in donations to date. Then, in their Patagonia Action Works program, they connect local charities to local volunteers. Finally, they go the extra mile with their Worn Wear Program where they allow customers to trade in and buy used Patagonia gear.
Do they have to do all of these activities?
It is so clearly in line with their company's purpose that they have to!
HIGH BEAM MARKETING FLYWHEEL
At High Beam Marketing, we start every new client relationship by walking through the Marketing Flywheel. Then we ask each new client to answer the question, "Why does your company exist?"
Why does your why matter?
Humans are our customers until Skynet officially takes over. I don't see that happening anytime soon, so, we'll keep focusing on people.
The Self-Determination Theory is a fancy way of talking about what motivates us to do things. People are most motivated when they have three things: autonomy, competence, and relatedness.
Relatedness is the factor I want to focus on. It simply means that you feel connected to others. Humans are tribal creatures by nature. Our tribes assembled around a central set of values and practices. This is hardwired into the deepest parts of our brains. Knowing what helped your elders survive often meant the difference in life or death for you.
Because of this, the brands that define who they stand for and why they exist will win.
Defining your company's purpose isn't as difficult as you might think. It's already there. You may not like the answer but it is what it is. Defining the current company purpose means that you can either double down on that or get busy changing to something you can be proud of.
How do we discover your company's purpose?
Play the Five Why's Game.
Get out a piece of paper and put on your favorite lo-fi playlist. On the top of the paper write down the single biggest problem that your business solves. Under that write down your first Why? The importance of the why question is to uncover why we do what we do. Sometimes it takes all five why's to uncover the actual answer but a lot of times, it only takes two or three.
Remember, discovering your purpose is a process, and it may take time to find clarity and direction. Be patient with yourself and embrace the journey.