Articles and Advice

Why entrepreneurs do what they do: Finding Meaning, Mantra and Mojo

“Oh yeah, life goes on, long after the thrill of livin’ is gone.”

Ever wondered if your work will thrill you as your life goes on? You may achieve wealth, create an empire and leave a legacy but are you doing what fulfils you? Even the most exciting of startups will lose its shine if it’s not answering that most important question of all, ‘Why am I here?’

Meaning and Mantra

Finding meaning in what we do is at the core of our existence as humans. On a simpler lever, it makes the task of getting up and going to work each day a lot easier to stomach. When Eion Musk created Tesla, sure he wanted to make bucket loads of money by transforming the way we power our lives. But I suspect there’s more to it that. It must be pretty tiring to take on the oil, gas and motor vehicle industries on a daily basis. Eion Musk has found meaningin what he does and that in turn gives him the motivation to get up each day and save the world from the fossil fuel catastrophe. He has found what spins his (battery-powered) tyres.

Perhaps your business mission is not as lofty as Mr Musk’s, but that doesn’t make it any less valuable if it provides you with meaning and fulfilment. Feeling good about what you do is what gets you up each day with a spring in your step. It’s a much better proposition than reaching 60 and realising you’ve been selling your soul for the last 30 years.

If I Didn’t Need the Money, What Would I do?

It’s a good question to ask when trying to find meaning in what you do. As an entrepreneur, you have freedom on your side. No one forced you to do what you’re doing, so don’t you want to make the most of your freedom and choose wisely? The story of your business is the story of who you are. It’s linked to your core principles. So don’t compromise your integrity by compromising on what your business does.

There are a few upsides to loving what you do and doing what you love:

  • It’s easy to stay committed to something you’re passionate about;
  • Passion is infectious, the people around you will catch your passion;
  • Having a purpose is the catalyst for motivation.

Meaning Equals Mantra

So, when you find it, how do you define your meaning? How do you explain the guiding principles of why you’re doing what you do to staff, customers and stakeholders? The answer is a mantra.

A mantra is not a mission statement. A mission or vision statement is normally an overly wordy and pious statement that means very little in relation to what you do each day. Mission statements, goals and forecasts will change as your business grows, but a mantra will not. The best type of mantra is one that captures the spirit of an organisation that exists both in front of customers and behind closed doors. Your mantra is what informs every decision you make; it’s the little voice in your head.

“Don’t be evil” was the rallying cry that rang out when Google launched itself to the world and revolutionised, um well, everything. While Google’s position on the scale of evil may be up for debate these days, there’s no question for Team Google, this mantra guides and informs every aspect of the organisation.

Content marketing software maker, Contently, have the mantra, “Be Awesome”. They are unapologetic for its cheesy nature. Contently’s mantra indicates the company’s sense of fun, dedication to their customers and most importantly, is made up of two unforgettable words. A mantra is there to remind everyone what the organisation is at the core. It’s about what a company wants to be rather than what they do. And most importantly, it helps everyone in the business stay true to those intentions every day.

Some questions to ask when creating your mantra:

  1. what meaning does your business, product or service hold?
  2. what do you want to accomplish?
  3. do you want to change the world? How?
  4. what are your core values and beliefs?
  5. what effect do you want to have on the world and your prospective market?
  6. who are you, really, deep down inside?

Passion is Contagious

Find your meaning, set a mantra then watch it spread. Where there is enthusiasm, there is a queue of people wanting to join the party.

A recent study by Deloitte asked 7,700 millennials from 29 countries what inspired them to choose their place of work. 56 percent of those surveyed said they had ruled out working for a particular company because of its values. 70 percent said they believed their personal values were shared by the organisation they worked for. You get a more dedicated and motivated employee when you share the meaning and value you place in the organisation. The top people (the ones you want) are the ones who choose to work with purpose. Finding meaning in our work is what sparks motivation. It’s what unlocks that holy grail of working because we want to, not because we have to.

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