OK, so every business exists in part to be profitable and create value for the business owners. But what is your business purpose beyond simply being profitable? Do you have, or want, a wider ethical view of your business – and if not, perhaps you should?
And yes, the whole point of the article is to ask you awkward-to-answer questions! Pretty much nearly every business owner or manager will have been told you need to know your Why. Knowing your Why is getting to the core of what your business is there to achieve – and this is actually really important as part of goal setting and business planning, as well as thinking of the ethical dimensions.
Recently, more and more people have come to recognise that business has to become more values-driven, more ethical . The impact of ‘Black Lives Matter’ and the ‘Me Too’ campaigns on society also mean we have to think about how our businesses will present themselves within our community.
This is my attempt to ask you some questions to get you thinking about your business, as a precursor to planning for the future!
Here are 5 questions to reflect on or discuss with your senior decision makers (in my case, Mrs Vowles!). Note that only one of the questions is really about money– all the others are about how you can use your business as a force for good. Do you have other, broader, social or environmental goals?
- Every business has a commercial purpose: to be profitable and to generate value for its owners. How much value does it need to generate for you to be able to say you’re happy – and what is the gap between where you are and want to be?
- Who does your business benefit? OK, so as the business owner you get value, as do your employees. If you have funders, shareholders or bank loans then they will need to be paid as well. But what else? Is the business also seeking to meet particular social, environmental or employment needs, or to benefit a community?
- What do you want to achieve with this business? Are you trying to create a legacy that will last after you? Or to create an impact through the business’s activities and its place in the wider community? Or maybe your business purpose is to be there for your family and to get that work/life balance?
- What are your supply chain values or ethics? What values do you want to drive through where you spend your businesses money? Is it local? Or fair-trade? Or not! We all know that shopping local helps our communities, and that importing goods increases CO2 emissions. Are you doing the right thing?
- What expectations do you and others have of your business? What expectations do you and others have now? As your business strides into the future, what expectations will others have then? Thinking about you as the business owner and also others; for example new customers, new recruits? Who else is a stakeholder in your business?
Answering these questions won’t write your business ethics and values plan – but they will mean that you can start the journey to become more ethical and values-driven, whilst at the same time working towards achieving your own financial or lifestyle goals….and we can help you to review and work forward on this as well, so get in touch.