Run Your Startup With The Purpose Playbook™

For startup success prioritize trust, team motivation, clear goals, and rewards. Learn from experience to guide your journey effectively.

Jeff Hilimire
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April 16, 2024

I had the great fortune to start my entrepreneurial career in college, sending me on a 25-year journey founding, growing, and in two cases selling, businesses. 

When I’m asked about any regrets I have during my career, my answer is always the same: I don’t regret any of the mistakes I made along the way, because that’s the only way you truly grow, but the one thing I do regret is not figuring out this whole ‘Purpose’ thing sooner.

It took me until the age of 35 to find my personal Purpose – to have an outsized, positive impact on the world – and from that point I’ve worked hard to unearth the Purpose in the companies that I am a part of. I’m a huge believer that business can profitably be a force for good in the world, and the best way to grow a sustainable, thriving business is to bring everyone together around a common Purpose.

To that end, I’ve now written four books on this topic (The Turnaround Leadership Series) and developed an operating model called, The Purpose Playbook. And now, my life’s work is to build more purpose-driven businesses through my holding company, Purpose Group.

The 3 Core Steps of The Purpose Playbook

1. Build a Trusting Leadership Team

Nothing can be accomplished with any degree of consistency or authenticity if the people at the top are not on the same team. Whether it’s you and your co-founder, or a leadership team of 6-8, you must make sure that you are all trusting each other. In The Purpose Playbook, I use a modified version of Patrick Lencioni’s, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, to build more trust within a leadership group, and if you haven’t read that book, that would be job #1.

2. Purpose, Vision, Tenets, & Values (PVTV)

Once you have a trusting leadership team, which can take up to six months to really get right, we then work hard to build out our company’s Purpose, Vision, Tenets, & Values. What I like about this structure is that it not only presents a deeper reason for being, but it also provides the roadmap for the team. It’s both aspirational and practical. 

  • Purpose: reason the company exists
  • Vision: where you see the business in the next 3-5 years
  • Tenets: the steps you need to take to achieve your Vision
  • Values: the way you will behave along the way

Keep in mind when developing your PVTV, it requires hard work to create, it's even more important that you consistently execute your PVTV on a daily basis, lest you end up with what most corporations have today: a nicely designed poster on a wall that nobody pays attention to any more. (You can find a blueprint for building out your PVTV in my book, The Great Team Turnaround.)

3. The Great Game of Business (or, Measure and Execute)

The last phase of The Purpose Playbook is an operating model developed by Jack Stack many years ago called, The Great Game of Business. I highly recommend you read his book by the same name, as it helped me understand how to create a true team atmosphere within a company, showing everyone how they individually can help the team hit its goals.

When combined with a trusting leadership team and an inspired PVTV, a model such as The Great Game of Business becomes an incredible way to inspire the team toward action.

Whether you use my model or find your own way, I believe there is no better way to build your startup successfully than by ensuring there is trust within the team, giving them a compelling reason to be excited about the work your team is doing, providing a clear roadmap to success, and rewarding them when you get there. It’s the one thing I wish I had figured out earlier in my career, and I hope it’s something that can help you on your journey.

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