3 Steps to Build More Meaning Into Your Business

UPDATED: May 24, 2024
PUBLISHED: November 5, 2015

How can you stay juiced about work, attract and retain world-class talent, and build a fan base of customers who adore you? It’s all possible through one powerful decision. Make your business meaningful.

Harvard Business professors John Kotter and James Heskett, studying a decade of statistics, found that purpose-driven companies outperformed their counterparts in stock price by a factor of 12. From millennials to boomers, millions of talented individuals are hunting for meaningful work with companies that take strong ethical, social and environmental stands.

Use these steps to build more meaning into your business today.

1. Define your why.

Don’t expect anyone to read your mind or heart. Define your company’s purpose and talk about it often. The more emotionally connected you stay to your mission, the more your thinking, decisions and actions will be filtered through that lens. If you need help getting clear, start by answering this: Why does your company exist, beyond financial profit? What change are you hoping to make in your customers?

2. Make an anger (or heartbreak) list.

This is a great exercise to do with your team, especially if you’re not sure where or how to build deeper meaning into what you do. Look around. What problems do you see in your community, in the lives of the customers you serve or in the world at large? What angers you about your industry? What breaks your heart? Make a list of the problems, issues and injustices that trigger a strong emotional reaction in you, and pick one to tackle.

3. Do something.

You don’t have to write large checks or change your business to a one-for-one model. Start small, but start now. Donate your business skills for a few hours to an organization already doing great work on an issue you care about. Create a sales campaign that benefits a cause beyond your own bottom line. Offer scholarships or free products to a community that wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford to do business with you. Don’t worry about making a long-term commitment to any one organization yet. Learn the issues, the players and most important, the landscape of your own heart.

—Marie Forleo, owner of Marie Forleo International, B-School and MarieTV

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