How Big Does My Business Impact Have To Be?
Here’s some great news: businesses that consciously focus on impact, on making a positive difference, have 12-14 times more income than businesses that just focus on profit.
Impact is not a nice-to-have. It’s not an add-on. It’s an integral part of your business vision and strategy.
You may be thinking, I’ll focus on my impact once I make more money. I can’t have impact without more income.
The truth is, you don’t have to wait for some future “ideal” condition to have impact.
Your plans for impact can be built right into your business from the start. When you do that, not only your impact increases. Your income increases as well.
Focusing on impact has other benefits too:
- Your decisions are easier. When you make your impact the center of attention for your business, then it’s easier to say yes or no to new ideas and prospects.
- You have focus.
- You have a greater sense of purpose. Having clarity about the impact that you want to have will give you a greater sense of purpose than you’ve ever had. Impact is greater than purpose, greater than mission. This clarity will carry you through challenging times.
- You have motivation and energy. You’ll jump into your business and life with more energy and motivation than you’ve ever felt.
One of the questions I’m most often asked about this focus on impact is, does my impact have to be big?The short answer is, no. If you only impact one person, positively affect one person’s life, that too is impact.
The longer answer is, maybe your impact is already bigger than you imagine.
You don’t have to have an empire to have impact, to make a positive difference. You affect everyone you meet, whether you notice it or not.
We are the sum of our relationships, with ourselves and with others. The African word, “Ubuntu,” means, “I am because you are.” Ubuntu captures the essence of our interconnectedness.
I once held a meeting in an African hut with that word, Ubuntu, boldly painted on the outside of it. As we met, a troop of baboons ran by, looking at us as they rushed past. Just as the novelty and delight of that settled into me, a sounder (herd) of warthogs followed in their wake. I’m not sure if they were headed to the same meeting.
The village that this African hut stood in was often visited by Nelson Mandela after his release from 27 years in prison. I’m told that Mandela would wander through the village in the mornings and greet everyone he met. He showed real presence and caring in his interactions, never rushing, reaching out to each person individually.
It was Mandela’s caring that is remembered most by the people in the village during his visits. This man, who as South Africa’s President and through his activism, brought about the end of the heinous practice of apartheid in South Africa, also affected people in his personal interactions.
His presence was honored by the creation of black pillars installed throughout the village that still stand. On each one is written a word. Freedom. Courage. Trust. Resilience. Unity. Vision. Each word speaks to presence and to impact.
Mandela understood that each person is important, that our connections with each other are what matter.
That is what I mean when I say that your impact doesn’t have to include a vision about influencing the larger world, but I would bet that your impact is already big.
It’s estimated that we are able to maintain stable social relationships with about 150 people at a time, and that each of us knows between 472 and 750 people. That assumes that you’re not making a major effort, that you’ve stayed pretty much in the same place for most of your life, and you don’t include social media.
If you do actively and consistently make new connections, you travel or have moved, and your social media contacts actually become friends, your network of connection is significantly bigger. One fun fact estimate is that you know 355 more people than you have Facebook friends. All of that adds up to the likelihood that you will meet upwards of 10,000 people in your lifetime.
Given all the people you connect with over a lifetime in some fashion, even with the lowest estimate, you personally affect a lot of people. You have the potential to make that impact positive.
So consider how you show up every day, within your business and outside of it. Making an adjustment in how you show up every day has repercussions down the road. It affects the impact that you have.
Let your impact be whatever moves you, whatever you see as your positive contribution in your business and in the world. And that vision may grow as you recognize your impact.