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The Higher Purpose of Family Business

By Kyle Danner

I’ve always been struck by the generosity of family businesses — and I’m talking more than just about making a donation to charity. I’m talking about the extra care family businesses show toward the people who work for them, the people they do business with, and the communities where they do business. It’s as if the family that owns the business wraps its arms around those stakeholders, sometimes going so far as to say they’re part of the family.

That spirit of generosity is simple and very humble. It’s all about giving back and doing what’s right. It can’t get any easier than that.

And, while we know this or feel this about the family business, there really wasn’t a way to think about it or even apply this spirit of generosity to other aspects of our lives. How can we use this drive to do what’s right in a way has a broader impact? In a way that can change the world?

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Recently, I stumbled upon a movement that, in a lot of ways, captures this generous and do-what’s-right spirit with the intention of making an impact that goes beyond the business. It’s called “Conscious Capitalism,” and its mission is bold.

“We believe that business is good because it creates value, it is ethical because it is based on voluntary exchange, it is noble because it can elevate our existence and it is heroic because it lifts people out of poverty and creates prosperity. Free enterprise capitalism is the most powerful system for social cooperation and human progress ever conceived. It is one of the most compelling ideas we humans have ever had. But we can aspire to even more.”

The family business is a perfect fit for this movement. Over the next few weeks, I’ll share more about Conscious Capitalism and why it fits so well with family business. But to start, Conscious Capitalism holds 4 tenets or principles. They are:

  • Higher Purpose

  • Stakeholder Integration

  • Conscious Leadership

  • Conscious Culture and Management.

At the center is “Higher Purpose.” It’s the foundation which the other tenets are built off. It’s the belief that businesses should exist for reasons beyond just making a profit.

Now, that’s not to say profits aren’t important. They’re the lifeblood of a business, and businesses have an ethical responsibility to be profitable. If they’re not profitable, they can’t provide jobs, they can’t contribute to their community, and they can’t support other businesses trying to do the same.

“Higher Purpose” is the true reason the business exists. It’s asking and answering questions like:

  • “Why was this business started in the first place?”

  • “Do we need to exist?”

  • “What would happen if our company closed its doors?”

Understanding your business’s higher purpose is a way to unite not just the leadership and your team, but also your customers and other stakeholders. As human beings, meaning and purpose matter to us. We may tell ourselves that it’s just business or it’s just a job, but truthfully, we want to be part of something bigger than ourselves. By being a part of something bigger than ourselves, we’re able to set aside our individual concerns for the greater good.

When you think about why a family business was started, it was to take care of the family. And that’s where we first learn about a higher purpose: from our family. To survive as a unit, the family had to take care of and watch out for one another. As I said earlier, that caretaking approach extends to the company’s employees and other stakeholders. And it should be factored in when thinking about your family business’s higher purpose.

There’s so much more to share about Conscious Capitalism and how it’s a perfect fit for family business. In the meantime, here are some ways you can learn more about the movement:

And don’t forget to subscribe to my blog to learn more about how to apply Conscious Capitalism’s innovative, big-picture principles to your business and your life.

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