From value driven to purpose driven entrepreneurship

With business becoming more and more aware of their social and ecological responsibilities, we’re breeding a new type of entrepreneur. Where most companies are struggling hard with this thing called value-driven entrepreneurship, more and more people are getting interested in what is called purpose-driven entrepreneurship.

purpose-driven entrepreneurship

What is purpose-driven entrepreneurship? Basically it’s what I’ve been writing about on this blog. It’s what Seth GodinSteve Farber, Simon Sinek, TED and everyone else who’s trying to put his finger on “the new entrepreneurship” is talking about.

The most difficult thing about being purpose-driven is to define it. As Simon Sinek wrote beautifully: Purpose can not be rationalized.

A true sense of purpose is deeply emotional, it serves as a compass to guide us to act in a way completely consistent with our values and beliefs. Purpose does not need to involve calculations or numbers. Purpose is about the quality of life. Purpose is human, not economic.

Even though it’s hard (or even impossible) to put numbers and measurements on your personal purpose (it’s even hard to define just what it is), it is possible to find a pattern in entrepreneurs who put their values and beliefs at the core of their existence.

The structure behind purpose driven entrepreneurship

I’m going to share with you a structure that tries to define what purpose-driven entrepreneurs do. There’s also a 7-pillar structure by Jing Jin on Evan Carmichael’s blog that pretty much defines the same pattern. The three pillars in my model on purpose-driven entrepreneurship are: Self Development, Social and Ecological Sustainability and Creative Entrepreneurship. Every purpose-driven person aims to improve himself, improve the world they’re living in and use entrepreneurship and design-thinking to make an impact.

Self Development

The basic requirement for a purpose-driven person is passion. A passion is a skill or a focus which you are extremely interested in. By investing in that passion, you’re also investing in yourself. Your following dreams and ideas you’re aiming for and by being passionate, you have a far better shot of actually becoming good at what you do.

In a recent article on Forbes called “Does Being Passionate About the Work You Do Increase Your Chance of Success?“, Amy Rees Anderson describes a pretty obvious point which is often overlooked: People that are able to follow their passions are more productive, better at what they do and happier. There really never is, was or will be a good reason why you should ignore your passions.

Social and Ecological Sustainability

Whereas value-driven companies and entrepreneurs aim to invest part of their profits in social or ecological projects, or try to reduce their impact as much as possible, purpose-driven people aim to have a positive impact. They want to do good rather than less bad. Social and ecological issues are not seen as an add-on to their original business model, it’s at the core of their believes. Purpose-driven entrepreneurs don’t aim to reduce the impact on these issues, they want to solve them.

Creative Entrepreneurship

And last but not least, leverage. A purpose-driven entrepreneur has no intention of isolating him or herself from the world. They use the force of entrepreneurship to give their stories and motivation the boost they need. These entrepreneurs do not enter the arena to fight over a particular share of the market, they simply use it as a platform. This is why traditional marketeers and organisations are so afraid of them. they’re playing a different game, one that requires a purpose, a good story, emotions.

The game these entrepreneurs play is one that you cannot create. Either you’re purpose driven, or you’re not (as an example: Coca-Cola latest campaign to safe the Arctic has marketing-trap written all over it, while the TED-prizes for truly inspiring projects and people will always leave you with the feeling TED is “keeping it real”.)


About leyssensjan

Jan Leyssens is a designer and entrepreneur who strongly believes you can’t turn sustainability into a positive story if your main focus is on negative impact. When designing, he is always looking for the overlap between activism and entrepreneurship, technology and community. His main expertise lies in strategic business model development, Circular Economy, the makermovement, and social innovation. With a background in Industrial Design, Jan quickly shifted his focus towards business design and using the design process in strategic management. Jan is the father of two kids and founder & CEO of Regenerative Design, co-founder of Full Circle, ImpactBoost, and the Circular Design map, podcaster, storyteller, and changemaker.


  1. Great Post! I really enjoyed while reading it. Thanks for sharing.

    purpose driven business

  2. Pingback: purpose-driven | Pearltrees

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