business people walking towards light

Why Every Company Must Have a Spiritual Mission

Being customer-focused is the key to business success

Rich dad taught me that, “A business needs both a spiritual and a business mission to be successful, especially at the beginning.”

To rich dad, the most important aspect for the success of a business was its mission. That’s why he made “mission” the base of the B-I Triangle. For him, the mission was the life-blood of a business.

“If a mission is clear and strong, a business will weather the trials that every business goes through during its first years. When a business gets big and forgets its mission, or if that mission is no longer needed, the business will begin to die.”

The positive power of the spirit

Rich dad chose both the words “business” and “spiritual” on purpose. To him, it was imperative that people were in business for more than just money. Being in business just for money is not a strong enough mission. It doesn’t provide the fire, drive, and desire necessary to stick it in for the long haul.

“The mission of a business should fill a need for your customers,” said rich dad. “And if it fills that need, and fills it well, the business will begin to make money.”

Rich dad used Henry Ford as an example of a businessperson who was driven by a spiritual mission first and by a business mission second. Ford wanted to make the automobile available to everyone. That is why his mission was, “Democratize the automobile.”

The result is that Ford built a business model based on efficiency to lower costs so that he could make his cars affordable. In the process he perfected the assembly line, and made a lot of money. But his spiritual mission drove the business mission.

The destructive power of business as usual

A spiritual mission does not drive many companies. And sometimes, great companies lose their mission. Rather than continually be driven by their spiritual mission, they begin to focus on business as usual…doing what everyone else is doing and allowing profitability drive mission rather than the other way around.

For instance, when Steve Jobs was pushed out of Apple and a management team from the traditional corporate world replaced him, the company went downhill rapidly.

As soon as Jobs was brought back into Apple, the spirit of the company rebounded, new products were brought to market, profitability increased, and the share price went up.

Jobs understood the power of a spiritual mission in a company. One of his last public statements was this: "It is in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough—it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our heart sing.”

For Jobs building tech products wasn’t enough. He knew Apple had to make hearts sing.

Mission is felt, not seen

The mission of a business is hard to measure, impossible to see, and for all practical purposes, an intangible. Yet, most of us have experienced the benefits of great missions.

We all can tell the difference between someone who is only trying to sell us something for a commission and someone who is actually trying to help us.

As the world becomes crowded with more and more products and services, the businesses that survive and do well financially will be the ones focused on serving and fulfilling the company’s spiritual mission—their customers’ needs—rather than just increasing the company’s revenues.

So, today’s most valuable question is: What’s your mission?

Original publish date: January 13, 2015