3 Tips To Find A Purpose For Your Business

Sharing a laugh with NBA official Kenny Mauer (also a  sports entrepreneur !) at a recent Ultimate Hoops event in New York


  • Having a purpose drives your financial growth
  • Search industry data to inspire and authenticate your purpose

  • Authentic purposes should drive company culture  

  • Purpose is not a strategy or tactic

Having a well-defined purpose for your business is no longer a "nice-to-have" option for your business. In 2018, it's a must have.

Studies show businesses with a strong sense of purpose have annual compounded growth rates nearly three times the annual rate for their entire industry.  

For me, this understanding was not immediate. When I started Ultimate Hoops a decade ago, having a purpose for my business was the furthest thing from my mind. I was 100% focused on delivering a differentiated recreational basketball experience to my customers.

It was five years after starting Ultimate Hoops when our purpose, to inspire all basketball players to never retire from the game, came into focus. In today's business world, you can't wait. You need a strong sense of purpose from the start.

Stuck on finding the right purpose for your business? Here are three tips to get you on your way. 


1. Let the data inspire you

Ultimate Hoops' "Never Retire" purpose did not come from divine intervention. It wasn't a slick slogan created from a marketing agency. It was born out of researching the hard data of what is happening in the youth sports industry. 

70% of kids quit playing basketball by age 13 and never play again. When we came upon this statistic it inspired our employees to make a difference in helping kids and adults lead healthier lives by continuing to play sports. 

Ask yourself, what is the downside of your industry? How can your company's purpose make a positive impact? Having data to support your purpose will create a flagpole metric for your company to drive against.  

Our team is inspired every day to keep basketball players from retiring. What data can you find to inspire your business' purpose? 


2. Does it pass the authenticity test?

Don't become one of the many start-ups with a contrived purpose to simply  "check a box" on your business plan. Your customers will smell the inauthenticity a mile away...and flee.

A company's purpose should not be a set of cool sounding words. Your product and services need to exude your purpose. If it doesn't, you will fail the authenticity test with your potential customers.

Are you a sporting good manufacturer who wants to save the planet? Make sure your products are non-toxic and biodegradable. Embrace it and take pride in it. People will pay more for your product if they believe your purpose is authentic and they feel they're part of a larger cause.

Just as critical for your customers, your purpose must be authentic to your employees. They need to be the ambassadors of driving your message in the marketplace. If your purpose does not resonate with the hearts and minds of your employees, you need to do some deep self-reflection. Is your purpose lacking authenticity or do you have the wrong team to execute it?  

Never waiver from your purpose. Ever. Make your purpose the centerpiece of interviews with potential new employees. If your purpose was not a candidates primary reason for wanting to join your company, do not hire them. Period. You will only being setting them up for failure by surrounding them with co-workers who are driven by your company's purpose.

More people are leaving corporate jobs to search for a more meaningful impact at work. Having an authentic purpose you can clearly articulate can make the difference in landing A-level talent to build your company with. 

Will your purpose inspire people to join your company?


3. Purpose is not the same as a slogan

Why does your company exist? At Ultimate Hoops, our slogan is "we treat all players like professionals." But it certainly isn't our purpose. It's a tactic to keep people playing basketball. To serve our purpose.

Your purpose should not have a monetary value. Again, it's not a strategy or tactic. A great purpose is something a compelling narrative can be created from. It must come from your heart. 

A snappy slogan burns bright, may even sparkle, but its novelty wears off fast with your customers and employees. Most slogans are difficult to relate to, comprehend and personalize. Don't make this mistake with your purpose.

Ultimate Hoops' slogan of "treating every player like a professional" can be interpreted a number of ways depending on who the basketball consumer is. Our purpose of "keeping all players from never retiring from the game" is visceral. Every basketball player, including Michael Jordan (who was famously cut from his nigh-school team), knows what it feels like to be on the brink of quitting the game. It's emotional, painful and is felt in a players' heart more than their head.

In simple terms, a relatable purpose creates empathy for your customers and employees. A cool slogan is just a sticker for a laptop. Know the difference. 

Spending time crafting your business' purpose is an important next step after determining your product-market fit. Get it right and it will serve your customers and company culture for current and future generations.