Most business owners I know get to a point where they ask themselves, “is this it?” They long for more purpose in their business. Often the business is doing great and feeling of growth and excitement around running a business mask the underlying desire to do more. Some of my favorite people run businesses that are even changing communities and yet they still long for more. Not more profit, but more purpose. In order to satisfy this feeling and take a business from successful to significant, you need missional alignment. However, that’s not easy.
The biggest challenge facing businesses that want to be more missional is knowing where to start. If you’re the owner of the business you might look at why you got into the business or what causes you to have holy discontentment. What issues bother you?
How To Move Toward Becoming More Missional.
There are some things we must talk about before we get started. Becoming more missional is not about millennial pandering. It’s about endeavoring to make your work more significant and impactful through missional alignment. You will need to start by doing for one (or a few) what you wish you could do for many. You may need to partner with organizations at first. For example, if you run a beverage company and want to end world thirst you could not tackle that alone (unless you’re Coke or Pepsi), you could start small by drilling one well in an impoverished nation or by partnering with Charity:Water.
Here are practical ways Businesses Can Be More Missional
1. Volunteer together
Off-sites and retreats are great for team building. If you’re getting together to reinforce vision or plan a new strategic mission then maybe they are worthwhile. However, in my experience, the goal is often to build trust and camaraderie. Volunteering together does this in a much more impactful way. Choose a local charity and spend a day helping them. Your team will have full hearts and doing it together will accomplish the same goal.
Bonus: Meet for dinner as a team and discuss the “ah-has” and how to move toward more of these events.
2. Instead of hiring a speaker, spend a day with the homeless in your area
At the low end, a paid speaker will cost you roughly $1,500 however many speakers command over $10,000. If budget is a concern, why not opt-out of a motivational speaker whose impact might be felt immediately but quickly dissipate and replace it with an experience that will likely last a lifetime. Call your local homeless shelter and ask if you can spend time with some of the people there finding out about their life.
3. Travel abroad on a work mission
LOVE this idea. If your budget has travel and conference allowances, then forego the latest niche conference for a trip to Uganda and serve the local people there. There is an almost infinite range of opportunities to help out and help in any cause you can think of. The cost is usually pretty high so you can save money here by making this your off-site meeting.
4. Do a clothing or food drive
As an introvert, I’d do just about anything to avoid white elephant gift parties and secret Santa’s. Instead, why not do a clothing or food drive. If you know the cause you want to conquer then arrange a fundraiser around that. One local business I know hosts a fun dance and silent auction.
5. Give away your excess
Some restaurants give their food to the homeless when they are allowed to. However, if you’re not in the food business consider offering your service to a local non-profit. I don’t necessarily mean work for free (although it could be that). What I’m suggesting is what could you do for a cause that is relatively easy for you to do. For example, if your business can easily scale to serve a specific need for a client, then why not add a charity as a client? If your making flyers, why not include the charity on the flier? Many businesses do this kind of cross-promotion to suggest they are giving.
6. As a leadership team look for opportunities to serve on non-profits
Most leadership teams have excess leadership capabilities that are not being utilized by the company. This isn’t necessarily a problem for the company. However, to make a greater impact, these leaders that have more capacity could help lead non-profit organizations as well.
7. As part of your training budget include educational organizations
If educating the less fortunate was something that motivated your business the partner with an educational organization. This could be a scholarship at a college or a school scholarship in an impoverished nation.
Bonus: If you do a local scholarship you can leverage this as an additional marketing opportunity.
8. Tie success metrics to a cause
One tactic that many businesses use is to tie their profits to a cause. Firehouse Subs does this with great effect. You think you’re helping firefighters every time you eat there. Even though they only donate 1% the effect is still felt. Consider tying a success metric to a cause. Whether that’s profit, revenue, or sales is up to you.
9. Consider hiring a personal coach or chaplain
A good coach can get more out of your team, however, a personal coach or chaplain can go much deeper. Some businesses have started this practice and the results are pretty amazing. These coaches can help with performance but they focus on the inner workings of the person similar to a counselor. They allow team members to work through their issues with an unbiased third party. The result is more fulfilling work.
10. Ask your team what they want
If none of these ideas spark conversation, ask the team what they are passionate about. Sometimes it helps to ask, “what are you passionate about ending?”
11. Ask your clients, customers what they care about
For some businesses, it can be hard. There is a lot of causes to choose from and maybe none of them seem to align perfectly with the business. Why not ask your clients or customers what they care about. If you ask enough I’m pretty sure you’ll notice a pattern.
Getting started is the hardest part of this, but if you want to make a difference in the world through your employee, client and community impact, then you have to take that first step. The point isn’t to support a charity but rather to get you moving in that direction. After doing this for several years, I’m confident you may have to shift gears. Remember, you can’t steer or shift gears in a parked car.