A few years ago, I was having dinner with a great entrepreneur and mentor who said to me, "If the world is fine without your company, then go and build something else!"
I think his advice is more important today than ever. We live in an incredible time where almost anybody, anywhere in the world can become an entrepreneur. There is more capital being invested into start-ups and lower barriers to starting a company than any previous time. But especially given all this, it’s worth stopping to ask ourselves, Does the world really need a $700 juicer? Or another app to valet your car?
Entrepreneurship, at its core, has always been about solving problems. Purpose-driven companies like Virgin were launched with an underlying belief that consumers deserve better. And in a time where student debt has reached crippling levels, rent is at record highs, and the costs of childcare have skyrocketed, we need mission centric entrepreneurs more than ever.
But building purpose-driven companies isn’t just good for the world, it’s also a smart business strategy. By starting with a core mission, you gain a few key competitive advantages.
First and foremost, you’ll be able to rally the best and the brightest. The more ambitious the mission, the more people want to help. The world’s top talent wants to fight for something bigger than themselves, and we all know that no great companies can be built without an incredible and inspired team.
Secondly, you can move forward with conviction that there’s a clear market need. The past few years, entrepreneurs have launched just about every combination of "uber for X", and in the coming years, we will probably see every version of "blockchain for Y". But many of these hype-based companies will struggle to find an audience of consumers who need their service. On the other hand, purpose driven start-ups are born knowing they’re addressing a clear problem.
Finally, in good times and bad, you’re built to weather the storm. At start-ups - especially the early days - the highs are high and the lows are low. It’s hard to get through a bad week, month or quarter when you’re only goal is to get another sale. For many start-ups without a clear mission, teams can start falling apart at the first signs trouble. But when your company is built around a bigger purpose, you give your team a reason to keep fighting.
So when thinking about your current or next company, be sure to ask yourself, "Could you live in a world where your start-up didn’t exist?" And if the answer is no, then don’t let anything stop you from fulfilling your vision.