Purpose Statement: what is it & how to write one

 
 

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Tweet: If you want to be inspired in your business and really love what you do, writing a purpose statement is probably one of the most important things you can do to make sure that happens. @iamstacykessler https://ctt.ac/7aAWJ+

If you want to be inspired in your business and really love what you do, writing a purpose statement is probably one of the most important things you can do to make sure that happens.


Tweet: If your mission statement isn't clear, concise, memorable, and shareable, it's about as useful as not having one at all. @iamstacykessler https://ctt.ec/mLb1d+

A purpose statement captures the reason you or your business exists and the impact you aspire to have.


 
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Purpose statement: WHAT

The definition of purpose.

Yet many entrepreneurs feel paralyzed when they try to write one or skip trying all together. Let me demystify the purpose statement and walk you through how to write one that inspires you and helps you build a business you love. 

Let’s break it down. We all know what a purpose is, right? Dictionary.com defines purpose as:

  1. The reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc.

  2. An intended or desired result; end; aim; goal.

  3. Determination; resoluteness.

Sounds pretty important right? It seems intuitive that we should be intentional about why we do things, yet most business owners never really get clear on their business purpose. I believe all entrepreneurs should always start with why, and to help clarify this, they should write a clear, concise, and inspiring purpose statement.

What exactly is a purpose statement?

In other words, it’s

  • Your why

  • Your true north

  • The thing that inspires and drives you

The purpose of a purpose statement.

A purpose statement is important because it can be used to inspire yourself and your team and make sure that everyone is on the same page about why the work you’re doing is important. This will ensure that the work you do stays focused and is really accomplishing your ultimate goal. As you really internalize your purpose statement, it becomes easier to determine your path forward based on whether or not something will help you accomplish your purpose.

Your purpose statement can also inspire messaging that will help you better connect with the people you want to serve or the people you want to partner with. If your purpose, or why, resonates with them, you will have a more captive audience.


Purpose Statement: HOW

If you’re wondering when to write your purpose statement, the answer is NOW. If you’re reading this, then you’re likely working on starting your business or it’s already started. You can never write a purpose statement too early. The sooner the better since, as I mentioned, it should guide and inspire your work, and who doesn’t want to be inspired?!

Some people like to write a mission statement first, some like to write a purpose statement first. These are two distinct things with different roles, and I don’t believe that the order in which you write them matters. That being said, I would recommend you start with the one that feels more clear to you already: what you do (start with mission statement), or the impact you want to have (start with purpose statement).

Speaking of mission statement, I’ve created a FREE guide: How to Write a Killer Mission Statement (with examples) that you can download below.

STEP 1: Do a brain dump.

If you already wrote your mission statement, ask yourself, why that work is important and what effect it will inevitably have on the people or thing you’re serving. Essentially, you want to determine the indirect, or secondary, impact of your direct actions. Do a brain dump of all the good things your work could do. How will lives be better? How will the world be better? Don’t be modest - think about the best case scenario. Even if you have a small business, your impact can be quite important and quite significant, even if on a small scale.

If you’re starting with your purpose statement, do a brain dump of the impact you desire to have. Go big and be aspirational. Ask yourself, if you could change someone’s life or change something about this world, what would you change? How would it be different? This is not the time to have imposter syndrome. If you start thinking, Who am I? What kind of difference can I really make? Stop it. Right. Now. If you tell yourself you can’t make a difference before you ever even try, you definitely won’t make a dent. Instead, imagine yourself as a superhero with superpowers. Imagine there is no such thing as impossible. With this new mindset, write down what you would do and how you would change people or things with your amazing gifts.

STEP 2: Choose faves

Once you’ve done your brain dump, I want you to mark the ones that resonate with you the most. Star, circle, or highlight - whatever you prefer.

STEP 3: Find patterns

Look at the things you marked and ask yourself what they have in common. Can any be combined? Do you see any patterns? Is there a higher level umbrella that encompasses multiple things you marked? Write a new list to capture these commonalities, patterns, and umbrella themes. You should end up with a much smaller list.

STEP 4: Choose

Read your narrowed-down list. Close your eyes and one at a time, envision that each of the desired impacts that are on your list came true, and you did it. Pay attention to how you feel. Which one is your gut drawing you to the most? Which is most important and inspiring to you?

If you’re struggling to pick just one, ask yourself if your top ones are related in any way. For example, does one impact the other? If so, choose the one that is furthest down the line - the one with biggest impact - the end result. If they happen in tandem, are equally important, or are complimentary - your purpose statement can possibly encompass them all. If they are unrelated, this is where you have to make a choice. An unfocused purpose statement is just about as useful as having no purpose statement at all. Ask yourself which one is most clearly linked to the type of work you want to do at this time.

STEP 5: Write

Write a clear, concise, and inspirational statement to capture what you decided in Step 4.

Here are a few example purpose statements (but yours may look very different):

Helping people have happier, more productive days.

Fostering a culture of activism and change for a better world.

To help people become who they most want to be so they can live life to the fullest.

Helping people live meaningful and fulfilling lives.

Protecting and conserving the planet’s precious resources for future generations.

You’ll notice that these do not address HOW you’re going to do this or WHAT your work will actually entail. The place for this is your mission statement. If your draft sounds more like a mission statement (ie. I help solopreneurs figure out their strategic path so they can build businesses they love), you may want to consider stopping right here and writing your mission statement first, and THEN coming back to this and starting over at Step 1 to dig deeper into the WHY, not the what or how.

If your list sounds like a good starting point to write something like the examples above, continue on! Write a few drafts and then edit, combine, and rewrite until you have one that feels good.

STEP 6: Evaluate

Ask yourself if your purpose statement meets the following criteria:

  • Does it describe the impact you’re having on someone/something else?

  • Is it true that this is the reason your business exists?

  • Is it aspirational?

  • Does it inspire you?

  • If achieved, is the world a better place?

  • (If you’ve already written your mission statement) Does your mission statement deliver on your purpose?

If any of these criteria aren’t met, rewrite your purpose statement so that it does and then check it again.

STEP 6: Use it!

Memorize your purpose statement, hang it where you can see it, share it with your team and collaborators, and use it to inspire your messaging.


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To recap

What is a purpose statement

  • A purpose statement captures the reason you or your business exists and the impact you aspire to have.

  • If you want to be inspired in your business and really love what you do, writing a purpose statement is probably one of the most important things you can do to make sure that happens.

How to Write A purpose statement

  • Do a brain dump of the impact you want to have

  • Choose the things that resonate the most with you

  • Find patterns and themes

  • Choose what’s most inspiring to you

  • Write a clear and concise purpose statement

  • Check it against the purpose statement checklist criteria

  • Use it

 Now go get to work on fulfilling your purpose!

Write your mission statement before or after

But whenever you’re ready, don't forget to grab my free guide: How to Write a Killer Mission Statement (with examples).

 

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stacy kessler - pathfinding strategist

Hey There!

I’m Stacy, an entrepreneur, strategist, and adventurer dedicated to helping you build a kick-ass business out of your skills & passions. Why? Because I think you should love your life and that’s kind of hard to do if you don’t love your work.

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