What’s your business why?

What’s your business why? Most people think they know why they do what they do. You work for money, play for fun, run for fitness, holiday for relaxation, right? Actually, your purpose; your real purpose, is much, much more than that. It’s the reason you get out of bed every day, it’s at the heart of what makes you happiest, it’s right there in your core values, and it’s what you’re all about.

As business owners, you’ll have heard people talk about your business why. Why did you start that business, why do you sell that product, why do you do that thing?  Some people, like Elon Musk, have it all figured out, they know their cause and they are all over it. But more often than not, we really struggle to get to the heart of it.

We all started with a “why”

The good news is that most of us actually started our businesses with a meaningful why, even if we didn’t know it at the time. If we didn’t have a why, we’d all be in average, boring, unfulfilling jobs instead. Running a business is hard work. We know there will be long days, we’ll have to take risks, learn new skills, be pushed far out of our comfort zone, skip time with the family, borrow money, or any number of potential sacrifice’s we may have to make.  We didn’t do all that just “for the money”, the problem is that we haven’t actually identified it yet.

A German Philosopher; Frederick Nietzsche once said, ‘He who has a why can endure any how.’

Nietzsche is right. Once you clearly define your why it will be much easier to stay motivated when things don’t quite go to plan.

Your why will keep you focused

When Elon Musk, and his enterprise Space X, crashed their first rocket, they didn’t give up. If they had been in it for the money, they certainly would have. In fact, the company was nearly ruined in 2008 after their third explosive failure. But, they aren’t in it for the money. They are passionate about building a reusable rocket, and using it to save humanity, so they keep going. The goal; the why, is crystal clear. They learn from each flight/crash, and they remain focused on their goal until they have achieved it. Only then can they stop – or find new ways to fulfil it.

“When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor”

Elon Musk

You might not have such big ideas of saving humanity with your car valeting service, but that doesn’t mean your why isn’t important. Knowing your why will keep you focussed on your goal, just like it does for Elon Musk, and every other successful entrepreneur. It’ll be what keeps you going whenever things don’t quite work out for you!

What’s your business why?

Isn’t my why just my passions?

Actually no, but they do work together. Your purpose won’t ever change. It’s formed during adolescence and stays with you throughout your life. Passions can come and go and are often discovered by accident. Your passions are the interests you are most drawn to and work hard to develop. Your purpose is your calling; it’s what gives you personal meaning.

People buy from people

People buy from people, and especially people that are like them. Passion and purpose are highly infectious, and people that share your values and your passion will be drawn to you. When you let your why shine through, people will very easily identify with you and what you do. They will effortlessly become your customer, and better than that, they will become your advocate too. Their core group of friends will share their values and passions and they will be drawn to you too.

When people copy you, they can’t copy YOU

And, if you need another reason to consider your why, here it is. A while back, a local person saw what I was doing with my afternoon tea delivery business. I am passionate about the experience of afternoon tea and offering an alternative from the traditional café and hotel options. I’ve had a few disappointing afternoon teas in my time, and my passion is to look after people and make them feel special. This other company saw a great opportunity to make money. They undercut me, copied what I did, and brought their product to market. I threw all my toys out the pram and took to Facebook to unleash a scathing rant about the injustice of it. How dare they? And then I switched my brain back on and had a word with myself.

Copycats don’t care about the same things you do!

This other company were only focused on the bottom line. They weren’t interested in the product, or the experience, or the problem, or making people feel special, or secret recipes. They didn’t have the same goal as me, or my passion. Once I had reminded myself of that, my response was obvious.

I focused on my why and improved the experience I offered. My afternoon tea got even better, and I put the price up. I was fully booked for weeks, it was the best thing I could have done for my business. My copycat? They cut their price some more and after that I’ve no idea. Interestingly, I never see that business receiving referrals in any of the local groups I follow. When people ask for recommendations, it’s always the same few businesses, and guess what, they all have a meaningful purpose.

Figuring out your why

The benefits are, hopefully, pretty clear as to why we need to fully embrace our why. So, let’s see if we can figure out yours!

There are a few things to consider that will help you through this.

Firstly, to qualify as a meaningful why, it must reflect a change that benefits more than just you and the idea of fulfilling it must excite you as much as the solution you come up with does.

If you are not sure then take a few moments to consider the following questions. Does anything jump out to you when you ask them of yourself? 

  • What memories stand out to you from your past?
  • What are you actually passionate about?
  • Is there something that makes you come alive when you talk about it?
  • What activities do you do that cause you to forget about checking the time?
  • What would you do at work for free?
  • Did you ever get joy from doing something that someone else would benefit from?
  • What kinds of attitudes annoy you in life?
  • What do you already do that makes other people’s lives better?
  • Are there any problems you particularly enjoy solving?
  • What problems keep you up at night?
  • What do you personally stand for?

Your business why must benefit others

Elon Musk wants to save humanity, that’s quite an overwhelming why. But actually, for you, you might want to make the world a safer place for our children, or maybe you want to help people achieve their own goals to grow their business with confidence. Maybe it’s about righting a wrong, taking care of your neighbours, or maybe you want to help vulnerable people to improve their lives by making resources more accessible, or maybe….

5 Minute Task: Can you figure out what the purpose of drinks company Innocent might be?

So how does that help?

Once you know your purpose, you should be able to connect your product/solution to it. A business owner that is passionate about improving the health of others will have a few options depending on their own strengths. Maybe they sell products, maybe they make them. You could train to be a health care provider, offer therapies, become a consultant, or something else. All these types of businesses fit well within the why of improving health for others.

I know a business owner that has become a reseller of a product because it really helped them with their own condition. They have the right why, they have an experience that has driven them to a problem within their why, and they have a product that works. It’s a dream for them. They rarely have to “sell” their products at all because their passion is so infectious to their customers that they can’t resist. If this person had simply enjoyed the benefits of the product but it didn’t fit their why, they might not have even been driven to become a reseller. If they did, they might have a reasonable side hustle. But, there will be times that it just won’t feel right, and there may be times that it will just feel like hard work, and you won’t want to do it at all.

What if your why doesn’t match your business?

Maybe after all this consideration you have discovered that your current business doesn’t actually fit with your values at all. Maybe it’s turned out to be “just a business.” Or maybe your business has aims have shifted over time. Perhaps it’s based on your passion instead?

If that’s the case, maybe it’s time to consider your options. Making a small business work to its full potential is not easy at the best of times. But, if you’re not fully passionate about what you are doing, and why, then you will find it even harder.

Think about where you started in business? What’s changed? Has your business grown, or tried to respond to changing markets. Have you been too focused on the competition and tried to compete with them? Now ask yourself, how can I get back to what fulfils me and my purpose?

What next?

Once you’ve figured out your business why, keep it in mind in everything you do. Put it up-front and centre when you talk about your business and what you do. When you develop a new product, ask yourself, does this help me achieve my why? When talking about your business or product, start with why you do it instead of what you do. It’s a game changer. When I switched my focus away from what I do to why I do it, my organic reach increased by 50% in a just one day!

What’s your business why? Focus on your values and your golden customer will love it!

Watch this…

My favourite Ted Talk of all time, (certainly at the time I wrote this,) is by a man named Simon Sinek and its called “Start with Why”. I’ve watched it at least a dozen times because I love the way he talks about the importance of why. His why is “to inspire others to do the things that inspire them so that together we can change our world.”  And boy does he achieve it in everything he does!

How would your business benefit from a 1-1 with an experienced business adviser/coach?

Book a consultation with us now and we’ll help you figure out your business why!