Why Does Your Business Exist?

At the end of the day, every business is trying to make money. But what is your ultimate purpose – why do you exist?

Before you think we’ve been smoking the patchouli, John Warrillow of the Globe and Mail recently explored this issue with Randy Komisar, venture capitalist and best-selling author of The Monk and the Riddle.

In his interview, Komisar asserts that there are but two types of entrepreneurs: mercenaries and missionaries. According to Komisar:

Mercenary entrepreneurs – are typically younger and ambitious but missing a larger goal. They possess excellent qualities to succeed but may not be focused on delivering any genuine value: “getting a product out… a lot of hype… raise a lot of money and sell out.”

Missionary entrepreneurs – have a bigger cause beyond just making money. They are building “something sustainable to have the kind of impact (they) want and accomplish a greater purpose.”

Komisar goes on to explain this goes beyond black and white – it’s not necessarily a philanthropy vs. profit discussion. Most highly successful companies have clearly outlined missions explaining their greater reason for being.

For example:

Harley Davidson is “fulfilling dreams through the experience of motorcycling.”

Southwest Airlines’ mission is to “democratize air travel so that all Americans can visit a loved one or relative at a happy and sad time in their lives.”

So we aren’t judging anyone’s desire to make money. After all, at the end of the day you have to put food on the table! But as the end of 2010 quickly approaches and New Year’s resolutions are soon upon us, why not reflect on the deeper reason(s) you first started your business, and what your goals are – it might just help sharpen your business focus!

Below are publicly stated core values from some companies you might have heard of – do any of them ring true for you?

Zappos: To deliver WOW through service.

Google: Focus on the user and all else will follow. // It’s best to do one thing really, really well.

Amazon: Customer obsession – We start with the customer and work backwards.

Microsoft: To help people and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential.

Reebok: To ignite a passion for winning, to do the extraordinary, to capture the customer’s heart and mind.