Why does your company exist?

Dylan Ogline is a serial entrepreneur and author known as a go-getter for work and lifestyle optimizations. He is the founder of Ogline Digital.

Too few entrepreneurs think beyond the limits of their own wallet. That will eventually cost them.

I’m going to ask you a difficult question. The answer may be a hard look in the mirror.

Does your company have a reason to exist, other than to earn your money?

Don’t rush your answer. Take your time. Think about it.

A goal beyond money

My agency exists to help other entrepreneurs realize their dreams through consistent, profitable lead generation. Yes, I make money in the process. But our customers are willing to pay us that money because we solve a big problem for them: how do they grow their business in a cost-effective way?

I’ve had a great run with this goal, but even that feels a little small. I started coaching entrepreneurs because I For real wanted to make a difference in people’s lives, not just in my bank account.

While digital marketing helps companies go from $1 million in revenue to $2 million — no small feat — I’ve found it more satisfying to coach people from broke to financially free, or at least financially stable.

In the ‘Impact Olympics’ that is the gold medal for me.

However, many of my students come to me with no other purpose for their emerging businesses than to make money.

I sympathize. I was once like this. When I was browsing eBay for cell phones as a teenager, I had no bigger vision than to fill my own pocket. I would buy the latest hockey equipment. Maybe one day buy a new car and get away from frigid rural Pennsylvania.

But after the cell phone business fell apart, I spent about a dozen years in the weeds. I was desperate for a profitable venture, but I had no other goal in mind than my own personal comfort and financial stability. I was willing to try something that would make me money, like most who are broke and desperate. That’s why I was everywhere. I had about a dozen half-failed companies and plenty of side jobs, and I wasn’t passionate about any of them.

A lot of people talk a big game about being motivated for money, but this mercenary attitude is untenable. Making money is not a good reason to get out of bed every day.

It’s not just entrepreneurs. The best predictor of employee satisfaction is actually: not the amount of the salary. It is their sense of being part of something greater, worthwhile and commendable.

So what purpose does your business have other than making money? If you can’t answer that question, it’s time to do some soul-searching. Perhaps you should think more carefully about what problem your company is solving. Perhaps you are in the wrong business in the first place.

This is not only true for the startup or solopreneur phase. History is littered with examples of big companies that stumbled when they forgot why they started in the first place and instead focused on building the largest pile of cash possible.

How Greed Cost Boeing

The classic example is Boeing. From its foundation in 1917 until the 1970s, Boeing was an R&D machine. The planes they released took the industry by storm. The 707 was the first viable commercial aircraft, while the 737 reduced the required pilot crew from five to two. Meanwhile, the 747 was the grandfather of the jumbo jet.

Boeing was unstoppable, by far the 800-pound gorilla of commercial aviation.

And then… overconfidence. They were at the top of the heap and became greedy. R&D is expensive. With no serious competitor, why bother with the cost? Boeing stopped innovating and rested on its laurels. Between 1960 and 1970 they released four series of aircraft. Between 1970 and 1995 – more than 25 years instead of 10 – the company only released two.

Meanwhile, French competitor Airbus took over and established a foothold in the industry with the rockstar A320 and A350 models.

Airbus surpassed Boeing in aircraft sales in 2003.

The practical reason to find a purpose other than money

Remember when I said the number one predictor of employee satisfaction is to have a goal greater than salary? I hope your entrepreneurial ears are pricked up there.

You need a team if you want to grow your business into a force to be reckoned with. Solopreneurs can really only go so far. A team is a force multiplier. Four people aren’t four times more productive than one – they are 40 times more productive… provided you have the right people.

Let’s say you are the CEO/boss of a team of four. You gather them in the boardroom for a pep talk and say, “We’re going to destroy ourselves this quarter. And if we work really hard and meet all our KPIs… I will be able to afford the yacht I had in mind! Let’s get excited!”

Do you think anyone will get excited? Of course not.

The most practical reason to build your business around a goal (other than making money) is the best way to attract a talented team. To get them to have a goal bigger than themselves and work hard to accomplish that goal to the end.

Everybody would like to make more money. I have no shadow for that motivation because I know it all too well.

But if this is the first time someone has instilled in you the importance of the real business purpose of life and death, let this be your wake-up call.

Start thinking now about why your business exists other than making money. The stronger and more compelling the goal, the better your prospects of making that money in the long run.

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