Best Practice

Scaling Purpose and Sustainability


By Thomas Waterman

When used as intended, capitalism is a powerful tool that abundantly serves the needs of everyone. At its core, capitalism is the expression of the intention to transform the lives of others by giving them value that directly serves their needs so they can survive and thrive in life. And in turn, the deliverer of this value receives what they need to thrive. At its root, capitalism allows more and more people every day to be served with real value, which helps the world get continuously better.

There is a challenge that lies in harnessing capitalism though — it seems as we have progressed and grown as a society, some have forgotten these roots. As time passed, many large corporations focused on monetary growth because it is easy to want to make more money, especially when you are already making a lot of it. But solely focusing on the bottom line led to a disconnect between businesses and the people they serve. The true intentions were revealed, layer by layer.

Now that we are standing on the shoulders of the information economy, the key to creating a sustainable and thriving business is to scale products and services with the intention of truly transforming our customers by serving their actual needs. This is easy at the conception of any business and continues to be easy if the founder’s purpose, vision and values are embedded into the organization before it hits major growth.

The scary story for most leaders we have talked to and who are growing their businesses is a tale of trust. These leaders fear that as they grow and hire more people, those people will not have the same passion they do; they will not make the same decisions they would, and they will not keep the original purpose of the business top of mind as they serve customers. They also fear they will create a system that empowers their team to do these things consistently without supervision.

Simply, these business leaders believe in their own vision, intuition and magic touch with customers, but they worry about that secret sauce getting tragically lost as the company’s team and client base grow.

We thought long and hard about this and realized these leaders are right to a certain extent. They will struggle throughout the growth journey if they are not intentional about keeping the pillars of purpose, vision and values as the drivers of every aspect of the business. When purpose-driven leaders do not have a system to keep these keys at the core of the business, their attempts to grow it will result in losing the magic that launched the business in the first place.

So, time and time again the question arises: “How do I grow my business and keep the founding purpose, vision and values alive in the process?”

There is a solution, and it is not as hard as you think. The answer is systematizing purpose — infusing that deep-rooted “why” and the guiding principles into every single business process. This will allow your company’s culture and impact to scale alongside your products and services.

When leaders do this, it frees up their need to stay hands on in terms of maintaining culture, engaging in decision-making and keeping the vision in focus. When leaders can take their hands off the wheel, they empower the business to finally grow beyond the constraints of one person or a small team who just “gets it.”

So how does a company systematize its purpose into the business?

Step 1: Uncover your purpose and values and define what they mean to you in an actionable way.

Step 2: Articulate them repetitively with your team, customers and community.

Step 3: Systematize them into the processes that focus on how you plan, hire, serve and work together.

When leaders scale their company’s purpose, vision and values as they grow their businesses, the culture built creates alignment, empowerment and fulfillment for each person on the team. The beauty here is that this applies to teams from 1 to 100,000 and beyond. That sounds like an organization set up for abundant, long-term success!


Thomas Waterman is the co-founder of Purpose Pioneers. He believes that when we find meaning in our work, we experience real-time fulfillment. He can be contacted at thomas@purposepioneers.com and @purposepioneers on the socials.

Contributors: Angela Minerva

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i4 Business

i4 Business magazine has become one of the most trusted voices for and about the Central Florida business community. Each month through our print and digital platforms, we provide access to meet, to learn from and to learn about some of the incredible entrepreneurs and business leaders who are shaping our region.

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