Make a Difference With a Purpose Driven Business

When you stop by a Panera Cares Community Café , you will see the same thing you see in any other Panera or a similar café -- menus heavy on sandwiches, soups, and salads, coffee urns and racks of freshly baked bread. But there's one important difference.

Instead of a cash register, a small donation box stands on the counter where customers pay on an honor system.

Panera Cares is a nonprofit concept that helps address food insecurity.

It offers a nice restaurant meal to all -- those who can afford it and those who need help.

Suggested donation amounts take the place of prices, and those who cannot contribute have the option of donating an hour of volunteer assistance in exchange for their meal.

It helps bring grace and dignity to people who can make their own choices instead of waiting in line for whatever is handed out -- or going hungry.

The founders of Panera have had a longstanding reputation of active philanthropy, but they wanted something more -- to be connected to the people who needed them most and to be personally involved in solving the challenges.

They asked themselves,How do we take our skills and add more value than just writing a check?

Panera Cares is an expression of Panera's identity as a purpose driven business. It takes a need and creates a solution.

We are all affected by the way we work, where we work, how we work and who we work for.

More and more, we want to earn a living by doing something that involves our heart as well as our mind.

We know it's important that business creates a profit, but as employees, entrepreneurs, leaders and consumers we are asking for a more socially conscious way of meeting that goal.

Very few businesses even think about this aspect of their operation, and many don't even understand what it means to have a purpose driven business.

To create a purpose driven business:

See a problem. Ultimately every business exists to solve a problem. Look at the issues at hand and start creating a solution.

Seek a solution. Work to provide relevance, resonance and permanence. Then you will create not just a solution, but the best solution.

Create value. Value isn't fixed or tangible; it rests in perceived benefit. Profits are one measure of value, but not the only one.

Have a purpose. Each business must work to find and fulfill the purpose that is embedded within its own blueprint. Just like individual people, so too is every business unique and valuable.

Make a difference Making a difference can change the world. Think of a business that touches your heart and makes sense in the way it helps people, society and the world.

Organizations that are infused with higher purpose usually have a culture and leadership that is authentic caring, influential and inspirational, egalitarian and committed to excellence, trustworthy and transparent, admired and emulated, loved and respected.

With a drive for purpose, any business can exist to achieve a higher aim, integrate the interests of all stakeholders, develop and elevate mindful and heart based leadership, and build a culture of trust, accountability and caring.

If we think about it, business done with heart is the most powerful model for meaningful change.

What else is business for, if not to help people, our society and our world?

Let's spread the idea that building a purpose driven business is a challenging but rewarding and meaningful undertaking, whether you create such a business from scratch or through a transformation.

Let's expand the definition of successful business to include positive social impact as well as traditional business metrics.

And let's make it our business to be driven by purpose.

More info on Heart Based Leadership here.

Lolly Daskal Latest Book:Thoughts Spoken From The Heart: Over 500 thoughts that bring meaning to your life.

© 2014 Lolly Daskal. All rights reserved.