Why do companies exist?

The number one answer I receive from an audience when I ask this question is “money.”

Let’s think about that answer.

How would you like to work for a company whose sole purpose is to make money? To make the owners richer. Why would anyone work harder? Would they work harder for a $2000 raise? That equates to $25 a paycheck after taxes. That is highly motivational, right? Let’s go further. If a company’s sole purpose is to make money, what does that look like? How would their business plan read?

Vision Statement: Make as much money as possible.

Mission Statement: We will do whatever, whenever, however, as long as we can make as much money as possible.

Core Values & Beliefs:
We will not sacrifice any profit for personal employee growth.
We believe that all employees are just an expense to our bottom line.
We only make decisions based on numbers.

Even Banks know they can not build a business on this premise. Deep down, we all want to contribute to something bigger than ourselves — Not to contribute to someone else’s wallet.

Chase: the right relationship is everything
Bank of America: Higher Standards
Wells Fargo: Together, we go far.

There is a psychological need to contribute. A professor at Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, Wayne Baker, wrote in an article titled Breakthrough Leadership. “People need to contribute. The reciprocity principle – the obligation to give, the obligation to receive and the obligation to repay – is universal. It is a principal component of all moral codes. The principle is so fundamental that it defines humanity. The need to contribute to others and to accept contributions from others is hard-wired into us as a species.”

David Straker, an educator, coach, and author in business and personal change, states, “When we contribute, we connect with the world. When we make a difference, we create meaning for our lives. The contribution goes beyond the self. In this way, we connect with the world and hence expand our sense of identity. Contribution helps us to connect with others as they thank and trust us. We can often contribute together with others, which can be a crucial driver of people engaging in voluntary work. Contribution is a key evolutionary driver that provokes people to help others within the community or tribe – This leads to group success.”

In short, purpose is the purpose of business. Every company has one. It may not be clearly defined or articulated yet, but it’s there. Often in the driving force of those who started the company. Usually, it resides in the minds and intents of the leadership of the company. The better job a company does at communicating their purpose (both visually and verbally — internally and externally), the stronger their brand, the greater their growth, and desirable their culture. They attract the right employees and the right customers for the right reasons.
Purpose allows people to identify with the business in something other than the material product it provides. It makes them feel good about supporting it and provides the justification to share it with others – what all companies strive to achieve.