Some companies are founded with a higher purpose in mind. Tesla has made it a mission to electrify mobility. SpaceX endeavors to put human beings on Mars, and long before Elon Musk, Henry Ford had the vision to build a car so affordable that every working person could own one. These companies set out from the start to change the world, or even the galaxy, for the better.
Most of us small business owners don’t have a built-in mission like that. The majority of small businesses are an extension of the particular talent of the founder, so it’s hard for us to claim that we are out to change the world. And that’s okay! Providing an important service to our communities with integrity, at a reasonable cost, and with the highest possible standard of quality in order to create wins for our customers and employees is mission enough for most of us.
Still, it’s easy to feel inspired by the companies that are out to do something more; those that have a higher purpose. As small business owners, we can’t let ourselves be intimidated by the outsized impacts that others may have. What’s important is that we have a high purpose, outside of just making money in exchange for our work.
This year, Simple.biz might not change the world, but we will make an impact on the lives of 10,000 children to whom we are sending toys through Operation Christmas Child and Samaritan’s Purse, a ministry of Franklin Graham.*
Many of the children who will receive these gifts have never gotten a Christmas gift before. It’s an act of kindness we are proud to be a part of.
Giving toys to 10,000 kids has nothing to do with our mission to help small businesses get found online. It does, however, give us some invaluable advantages as a business:
1. It is magic for our company culture.
Our team members strive to do their best at work for many reasons, like improving their relationships with their colleagues, making more sales, or advancing their careers with the company. Nothing wrong with any of that. But when our team members bring their best without the expectation of recognition or reward, it’s even better. When they are bringing their A-game just to help other people, it’s true servanthood. The ethic of servanthood is one that prioritizes acts of service and kindness for the benefit of another person for no other reason than it is the right thing to do. It’s doing right by people simply because it feels right to do so. A culture of servanthood is vital for a winning organization since it will never be possible to serve customers at the level that the marketplace demands without it. Likewise, a sense of mutual servanthood within a company allows team members to work on one another’s behalf and form a cohesive unit.
What could your higher purpose be? This year, we chose to donate toys to 10,000 children we will never meet precisely because we would never meet them. They will never thank us, and we will never be rewarded for the donation. We know that. That’s the point. That’s servanthood.
2. Money alone is an empty metric for the value of our work.
When you reduce the efforts of a company to rising and falling lines on a graph, you are left with a disturbingly hollow portrait. After all, a company is all about the genuine people who come for a service and the people who help them. It’s communication between workers, administrators, and customers. It is real and human, and there is value in that.
There are some people who would work for Tesla for free just because they believe in the mission of the company. There are people who would forgo a million dollars for the chance to have a business dinner with Jay-Z. People are attracted to opportunities like these because they recognize a higher purpose in the opportunities they present. There is meaning in having a higher purpose. Even if it doesn’t change the entire world, as long as it changes an individual’s world, there is value.
This value doesn’t have to come from zeitgeist-defining acts of prescient entrepreneurship. Just think about how the world seemed to stand still when the new iPhone is released because it made the camera a little better. What matters is having a higher purpose to provide a more complete, if intangible, metric for the value of your work.
3. Lasting Impact
My dad worked in fiber optics for most of his career. He retired 20 years ago. Not a single inch of the cable he was responsible for installing is still in use. Not a single technology he developed is still considered state-of-the-art. Thirty years of work and nothing remains. This is the unavoidable, immutable reality of the work that we do. The technology we create, the sales records we break, and the aesthetics we curate are doomed to an Ozymandian irrelevance within our own lifetimes.
This is why the efforts we make in pursuit of higher value in the ethic of servanthood are so important: These are impacts that can last a lifetime. The impact that we make on these children’s lives goes on and on. Many adults testify to the lasting impact that something so simple as receiving a gift box from Operation Christmas Child had on them. This kindness goes on to inform the world view and outlook on life for children and in a life where much of what we do on a daily basis is destined to be forgotten, this is something that will surely be remembered.
So ask yourself: What can I do as a business owner that will create value that outlasts the business itself?
4. God blesses those who bless kids.
I remember when I was a 5-year-old kid our neighbors once came over to our house and saw the presents that my sisters and I had received for Christmas. It had been a good year for us. I had a new train set; it was awesome! Sadly, the neighbors’ kids told us that they had not gotten any presents themselves. We asked them why, and they explained that their parents were divorced. At five years old, I couldn’t understand why that was their fault. It seemed so unfair to me that Santa would skip their house on account of their parents being divorced. I wasn’t mad at Santa, just perplexed. It saddened me that my neighbors wouldn’t be getting any Christmas presents, as I loved the toys I’d received. Later, I realized that my neighbors were really saying that they got no Christmas presents because they were poor, owing to their parent's divorce. Then again, we were all poor; we were neighbors in a trailer park. Kids don’t know they’re poor, but they know when their friends get presents but they don’t.
This year, millions of children won’t have to explain to their friends why no presents came for them, and 10,000 of those toys will be from a humble website company here in the States that God has greatly -and undeservedly- blessed.
If you’ve been looking for a higher purpose for your business and Operation Christmas Child sounds like something you’d like to be involved with, consider sending your own gift boxes through Samaritan’s Purse HERE.
* The toys have been ordered from the factory and should be arriving in November 2022 for delivery to the Samaritan’s Purse main warehouse, which is in Charlotte, North Carolina. These will add to shoebox gifts sent by people all over the developed world to children in the developing world. If the gifts arrive too late for Christmas (which we do not foresee) we will still donate them to Samaritan’s Purse for use in 2023.