November 4, 2013

What’s Your Purpose – Jim Cramer Style

business planning questionsThis title sounds terribly self-helpy, doesn’t it? Believe it or not, it was stock market guru and multi-millionaire Jim Cramer who got me asking this question and why it’s pertinent for entrepreneurs.

If you don’t know, Jim Cramer is a TV personality, mostly known for his hosting of CNBC’s Mad Money. If you’ve ever flipped through CNBC and seen some lunatic-looking man with his sleeves rolled up yelling “BOO-YAH” at the television, pounding out sound effects, and looking like he’s on the verge of a heart attack, that’s Jim Cramer.

The truth of the matter though is that Jim Cramer is an expert at picking stocks and understands the stock market better than most of the talking television heads out there. It turns out that my father loves Jim Cramer and he will actually plan his day around when Cramer is on in order to catch the show (he’s even been a guest caller on the show twice which honestly might have been one of the highlights of my dad’s year!)

When I was back home in September my dad and I headed out to do some fly fishing. My family lives in Wyoming and we were headed back to a ‘secret’ spot that’s lots and lots of miles down dirt-rutted roads. Not surprisingly given where we were, we soon lost radio signals but my dad turned on satellite radio and Jim Cramer came on.

Now I’ve watched Cramer before, usually when I’m hanging out with my dad, but I don’t follow him regularly. This was the first time I actually caught the entire show, from beginning to end, without interruption. And it was something that Jim Cramer said in his introduction that struck me. In the show introduction he says something along the lines of “My purpose is to make you money.

Think about how powerful that is. He’s saying that the entire reason he’s on tv is to help other people make money. No doubt about it, he’s making money off of it too, but that’s not his ‘purpose’ – that’s not he reason he gets up every morning and goes to work. His stated purpose is to help other people succeed financially.

Which made me wonder, how many people start businesses with their own goals first and foremost in their minds, and not that of their customers? If you had to say, what is your purpose? What are you doing that adds value to this world? You don’t have to be a socially -focused business to have a purpose. I know of two owners of a small store whose purpose is to be a community gathering place with the cooking classes they offer. I know of small cupcake company whose purpose is to bring a little joy into people’s lives. I know of a small snack product company whose purpose is to provide a better alternative to the vending machine for office workers. Yes, each of those businesses wants to make money, but it’s their clearly defined purpose and focus on what their customers want and need that will help them become financially successful.

So what’s your purpose?

PS. – Several months ago I asked whether there was a way to shift the paradigm for your business. I’d argue that Jim Cramer did just that with Mad Money. Until his show aired, most stock-related shows were something you’d only put on when trying to lull someone to sleep. They were predictable and boring. Jim Cramer changed that paradigm and by doing so, created a show that got people engaged and excited about stocks. More importantly, he made understanding the stock market accessible to the ‘average’ person and no longer limited to those in the board rooms of Wall Street.

PPS. – Here’s a picture from that day out on the river with Dad.  Unfortunately I came up short that day and Dad did most of the catching.  But I made up for it a day later.