Purpose is of tremendous importance. I’ll tell you why shortly. But first, I want to point out that there is a huge difference between the purpose of a tech venture and any additional value it might deliver. It is important to understand that difference and not mix them up: Added value describes what you do, while the purpose tells us why you do it. Though they clearly interact and influence each other, purpose, or ‘the why’, is much more than just the starting point to derive the added value from. Having a purpose serves you in many other ways. Knowing why you started that tech venture will get you through the hard bits and help you maintain focus.
Unlike added value, having purpose helps you directly in communicating your vision and marketing your product. Not only by stating who you want to talk to in the first place, but also because “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” – as Simon Sinek put it eloquently. This doesn’t only apply to customers, but also to partners (in and outside your tech venture), employees, supporters, the community and the people in general. Ever heard people saying good communication is telling a story? Why not make why you do what you do the starting point of that story?
Ever noticed how much easier it is to talk about things close to the heart? In contrast, from personal experience, I know how hard it is to “sell” something I don’t really believe in. But, ventures that serve a higher purpose – like OpenTechSchool or Hackership – I’ll happily discuss with and promote to anyone who will listen.
Your purpose will also keep you on the right track. For instance, let’s pretend you are running a venture that supplies clean water to kids in poorer countries. If your main purpose is to keep these kids from dying, there is no good reason to sign a marketing deal with Coca Cola, unless doing so would have a significant impact on these kids. However, if your purpose is to become famous as someone who helps kids, you should probably sign that marketing deal regardless of whether it actually benefits the kids, as long as it puts your face on a poster.
Having a purpose keeps you motivated. There will be plenty of times when things get tough – because of people, because of time, because of money. If you were just in it for the money, you’d find something better paid and quit. If you’re serving a higher though, you will continue – even if it’s only on your own time – and you will get through it.
Your purpose is single most important driving force behind what you do. You will need it. Much more than anything else.
A shout out for Magdalena Roeseler for this amazing pick of a runner she took earlier this year. And a thanks for sharing it under CC-By-2.0 with us. Highly appreciated!