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April 9, 2016

What is the Point of Business?

Unsplash/Redd Angelo

How should we define the role that commerce plays in our societies?

What’s the point of business? For a long time, I thought the point of my business, dojo4 was simply to design and develop software for clients and make money in the process. That turned out not to be true.

Meaningful connections are good for us, our colleagues, employees, customers—and ultimately, good for business.

Milton Friedman—practicalist and Nobel Prize winning economist—said the point of business is maximizing profit for shareholders. Management visionary, Peter Drucker, said the point of business is to create a customer. And Richard Branson says the whole point of business is to make a difference in the world.

I believe that, as entrepreneurs, our fundamental, core mission is to connect. Simplistically, that may mean connecting people with services, connecting people with products, connecting people with people and connecting people with information. However, there’s a difference between connection and meaningful connection.

In my experience, essentially what makes connection meaningful is when it is based in purpose—but, in order to know that purpose, we each have to do the work to find out what is deeply meaningful for each of us, personally. We have to connect with ourselves—our motivations, fears, personal challenges, advantages, strengths, weaknesses, aspirations and inspirations.

What makes us feel that we are living a good life? What makes us come alive? What makes us feel grateful and appreciative of our day-to-day? What fuels our ambition, imagination and desire to work hard? If we know that, then the sense of meaning and purpose will imbue every connection and carry outward.

Doing this investigation into our purpose—and what the purpose of our business really is—is an opportunity for us as entrepreneurs. It’s an opportunity to take this fundamental mission to connect people with something they need (or something we think they need) in a more meaningful way. People can tell the difference. Meaningful connections are good for us, good for our colleagues and employees, good for our customers, and ultimately good for business.

We have everything we need to investigate the real purpose of our businesses and make meaningful connections. We have the ability to listen to others and ourselves. We have the ability to empathize—to acknowledge each other’s obstacles, grief and humanness. We have the ability to connect with our own authenticity.

We have an opportunity to make each point of connection more meaningful, more lasting and more enriching. We have the opportunity to change people’s minds about what that connection is—including our own.

By having a firm foundation in our own sense of purpose for our businesses, we will bring alive each connection—each sale, each service and each interaction with coworkers, clients and competitors.

If we want to have truly successful businesses, then this isn’t just preferable—it’s necessary.

Peter Drucker said:

“The number of people who are really motivated by money is very small. Most people need to feel that they are here for a purpose, and unless an organization can connect to this need to leave something behind that makes this a better world… it won’t be successful over time.”

I realized the point of my business isn’t actually to make technology for clients—that’s just the vehicle. The purpose of my business is to cultivate meaningful relationships; it’s to support the people and the families that work within my business; it’s about creating community and expansive human environments. I found out that the mission of my business is to apply rigorous minds to meaningful work, change the way business is done and cultivate purposeful projects, relationships and environments.

We can all find ways to imbue our work, our businesses, and thus our communities with meaningful and powerful connections. We all do it in different ways because each of us is motivated by different purposes. The ability to connect to purpose makes our businesses create meaningful connections that do good for our colleagues, our clients, our competitors, and ultimately, our entire communities.

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A version of this post originally appeared on Unreasonable.is.

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Author: Cayte Bosler

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

Photo: Unsplash/Redd Angelo

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