According to motivational speaker Simon Sinek in his now iconic TED Talk, knowing your “why” is fundamental to your business’s success. “The ‘why’ of a company is like the character of a person,” he says in an interview with Entrepreneur. “It is who you are. It is how you show up.” He expands on this concept in his bestselling book Start with Why with the assertion: people don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.
Why do you do what you do? It seems like a simple question, but there comes a time for every entrepreneur when the answer becomes buried under the grind of keeping your business running. If you’re having a hard time pinning down the answer, here are three ways to rediscover your Why:
Go back to the beginning. What was the spark that motivated you to start your own business in the first place?
Elder Law Attorney Doug Koenig can trace his “ah-ha!” moment to one pivotal conversation. As a recent law school graduate, he had just finished helping a 94-year old woman with some minor family legal issues. During a casual chat, she described her first time riding a horse with her dad at the age of eight. With perfect clarity she recalled the rush of wind in her hair and the thrill of a ride taken more than eighty-five years ago. “I heard that story and thought: I’m done,” says Doug. “I’m done with everything else I’m doing. I want to be an Elder Law attorney and hear more of these stories.” Doug’s Why is helping the elderly feel heard.
What’s the problem? What is the problem your company is solving?
Mark Strauss, Ph.D. uses his analytical mind and biomechanical background to reconstruct accidents and injuries. His company, Impact Injury Analysis, is hired by insurance companies, municipalities, attorneys, the military and sometimes even grieving family members across the United States. “I’ve always had a problem-solving personality, he says. “I enjoy working on challenging projects, being able to solve the problem, and then demonstrate or communicate the answer to that problem in order to provide closure.” His Why? Helping others to learn how accidents happen to keep them from happening again.
Leaving your mark. What impact is your company making on the world?
Bruce Blackwell, CEO of Career Strategies Group, helps high-level executives find new jobs when they discover they’re not as happy on their chosen career paths as they thought they’d be. Many of his clients come to him burned out but afraid of failing at something new. When they realize change is possible, the impact has a ripple effect. “We helped this client get into a job he liked,” he recalls. “And at some point he came home and hugged his wife. They had a young child, and the child got scared and started to cry. He had never seen his parents embrace before, because his father had been so miserable. It’s very gratifying to play a small role in helping make the world a little bit of a better place for one person at a time.” Bruce’s Why is helping people love their jobs.
When your company keeps your Why front-and-center, it resonates with your employees, associates, and customers alike. What’s your Why? Tell me in the comments!