Paul Saginaw’s 5 Important Questions To Ask to Start A Meaningful Business

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Is there a blueprint for meaningful success? Not exactly. Successful entrepreneurs like Lynne Golodner, the founder of Your People and host of the Make Meaning Podcast, and Paul Saginaw, the co-founder of Zingerman’s, did not follow a specific path to get to where they are today.

However, both faced tough decisions and asked some important questions before even beginning their entrepreneurial journeys.

If you want to create a successful and meaningful business, take some time to find answers to these questions…

1. What are you going to do, and why do you want to do it?

On the Make Meaning Podcast with Lynne Golodner, Paul emphasized the importance of having a clear vision and understanding key differences between vision and strategy.

“The vision is not the strategy,” Paul said. “The vision is what you’re going to do and why you want to do it. The strategy of how you’re going to do it comes later.”

The Vision Behind Your People

Paul Saginaw Vision Quote

When Lynne started her marketing and public relations company, Your People LLC, in 2007, she knew she wanted to focus on purpose and story. Her vision fueled business growth.

As a small but mighty PR firm, Your People, has revolutionized the way organizations build brand awareness and grow their bottom line through storytelling, relationships, and higher purpose.

Learn more about Your People here

Without a clear and meaningful vision, strategy falls apart. According to Paul, the most successful strategies are informed by vision. Think of vision as your north star; it will point you in the direction you need to go.

2. Who are you working with, and do you have a shared vision?

Are you starting an entrepreneurial journey with a partner? According to Paul, who co-founded Zingerman’s with Ari Weinzweig, it’s imperative to be on the same page .

“A lot of organizations have disagreement among the leadership,” Paul said on the Make Meaning Podcast.  “They think they’re arguing about strategy but really, they’re arguing because they don’t have a shared vision.”

Crafting a solid vision is important, as is making sure everyone is aligned with that vision. A business won’t progress if partners are not looking in the same direction.

3. What type of organization do you want?

Paul advises potential entrepreneurs to become clear on the type of organization they want. Company culture can make or break a start-up.

Zingerman’s began with, and continued, a people-first culture, which has been a key to its success. Paul advised listeners of the Make Meaning Podcast: “If you can describe that culture, you can have a written set of guiding principles and they are very powerful. They’re going to attract the type of people to your organization that you want.”

Paul went on to say that creating a clear company culture and sticking to the promises that come from it builds trust with employees. Failing to follow through on a company’s promise can “build internal chaos,” Lynne  noted.

4. How will you make a meaningful impact?

With a meaning-first approach to marketing, businesses must use their purpose and vision to impact the community at-large. A business without concern for the greater good does not last long. So, entrepreneurs must ask themselves:

  • How will you make a meaningful impact?
  • How will you impact your employees?
  • Your clients?
  • Your community?
  • How will you make the world better through your product or service?

Lynne leads with purpose at Your People. Her business is centered around helping businesses find their purpose and voice. Compassion mixed with her marketing savvy has allowed Your People to uplift clients and tell compelling stories that build their reach and increase revenues.

For Paul, it was mentoring employees (and others) that grew Zingerman’s – and his personal mission. Zingerman’s expanded over more than three decades to become a Community of Businesses – solely through a belief in mentoring and encouraging others to go for their dreams

Ask, what’s your why? Why do you do what you do? Why does your work matter?

5. How do you define meaningful success?

Your People was born at a time when the economy was spiraling downward and Lynne Golodner was becoming a single mother of three young children. Your People helped people find meaning and direction in a new marketplace. The company’s success helped others find their meaning and message.

Paul Saginaw focused on impacting community and individuals. His innovative company design found meaningful success by allowing employees to start new businesses, in partnership with Zingerman’s. By believing there was enough success to go around – and infinite amount of success, to be certain – Paul multiplied the goodwill and expansiveness that he lives by.

Lynne Golodner with Paul Saginaw at the recording studio

As a founder of Food Gatherers, a food insecurity organization in Washtenaw County, Michigan, he also modeled giving back and supporting the community through his success.

He told the Make Meaning Podcast that “giving back was not something that we were going to do once we became successful; giving back was part of the cost of doing business. Just like paying rent, insurance, utilities .”

Meaningful success requires a conscious effort to weave the meaningful into the mundane, a greater purpose than just making money into the vision and strategy of your business.