Why are you in business? Is your goal to fatten your bank account as time rolls by, or live large like your rich mentor-from-another-continent? Are you aiming to build the next unicorn, or become the toast of celebrity parties, like the big bosses of the planet’s top corporations? Or are you in it to ‘change the world’?
We won’t be thrashing your ambitions in this article. You’re pursuing a dream you think is worth your time, effort and sweat; it’s all good. But here’s the question we’d like to ask you: is your entrepreneurial or career pursuit being driven by something that’s big enough to keep you going, even when the roads are rough? In short, is your purpose of being in business bigger than you?
If the question seems odd to you, it’s probably because you haven’t considered the role played by the quality of your ambition in determining whether (or how) successful you’ll be at what you’re doing.
And beyond hitting it big with your job or business in the near future, will the impact of your work survive after you’ve left it behind (i.e. when you’re dead or have moved on to something else)?
Maybe you’re thinking that it doesn’t matter. After all, we’re all doing commerce for the sake of piling the money. What dream is there to pursue, you might wonder. The fact is, there’s an extra resolve that comes with having your eyes on a greater goal than dropping more bucks into your piggy bank.
Consider the more well-known corporations of this world. Sure, a good number of them were founded by people who didn’t care for grand ideals and epoch-defining products. They just wanted to do something a bit out of the norm. The point is, they did dare to push beyond what was regular. And in doing so, they were able to present the world with products and services that transformed life on the planet in significant ways.
It’s not clear that you’ll be able to push yourself through to the edge of creative, innovative thinking of the groundbreaking sort if you’re simply targeting a place with the big boys at the podium of major public events. Anecdotal evidence suggests that you’ll be so impatient to reach those heights, you may be ready to settle for mediocre, short term solutions as long as they fetch you the cash you seek.
The more outstanding companies of our age have been the ones that defied the status quo that existed in their industries when they arrived on the scene. Today, it’s called disruption. Look what fintech startups are accomplishing these days, or how digital publishers have made it possible for anyone to make a book and get it out into the public. The banking and publishing industries have been forced to change the way they operate. The world of finance and literature has been deeply impacted by these turns.
Now think what gains the pioneering companies in these fields have made- or what those that have followed right after have achieved. They almost certainly wouldn’t have grown into billion-dollar companies if they had done banking or published books the way the old guard did.
How to Build a Business that’s Bigger than Your Own Ego
What do your mission and vision statements read like? Are they strong enough to summon you to push harder and make your business stronger and more sustainable? Do you actually pay attention to them as much as you should? Are they guiding the decision you make and the actions you take on a daily basis?
When your mission and vision statements are clearly about a greater cause than your own self, they’re more likely to inspire you to do excellent work and grow your enterprise in the process. But that’s only if you take them as wishful declaration.
When you’ve gotten these guiding words right, you’ll need to let them be the rule by which you run your company or do your job. This will require strategic planning (for the short, medium and long term), the resources that’ll be deployed to execute your plans, and the willingness to execute those plans as well. That’s basically the entire process of starting and running a business. We’re only suggesting that you do it with your eyes on a much larger theme than your imperfect self.