Those of you who have seen Simon Sinek’s famous TED Talk “How great leaders inspire action” would know the line, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it”. (If you haven’t seen his talk, then stop what you’re doing and watch it now.)
Your “why” is the reason your business exists. It’s your purpose — the vision you have for what you hope to achieve. It’s how your target market can connect with you. And yet, as Sinek points out in his talk, a lot of business are missing their “why”. They know what they do. The might even have a good grasp of how they do it. But surprisingly few can articulate why they do it.
“And what’s the problem with that?”, you might ask. Well, let’s take a look at how discovering your “why” is important, and the reasons why it needs to be more than “to make money”.
Why your business needs a “why”
What happens if you don’t have a clearly defined purpose? Well, what you’re left with would simply be your products or services, right? The issue with that is that on their own, products and services aren’t necessarily all that inspiring. Humans are emotional things. We like things that make us feel. And it’s hard to build an emotional response without a story, or a dream, or a personal connection.
When you know why your business does what it does, you suddenly have a way to resonate with your intended audience. You have a higher purpose for your business that’s bigger than the products or services you sell. It gives you a story to tell, or an ideal future to build. Something to draw in your customers and share with them.
Related post: How defining your core customer will boost your business
Using your core values to define your why
I think the purpose behind your business is intricately tied to your values. You, as a business, have a set of core values that you believe in. And common values are a major part of what connects your business to your ideal customers.
Your core values aren’t always the same thing as your purpose, but they can help you figure out your “why”. It’s often easier to think of things that are important to you. For example:
- “I believe in treating my team like family.”
- “Speaking directly to my client is essential for delivering good service.”
- “It’s important to use the fewest possible number of ingredients in my products.”
There will be certain beliefs and practices that are important to how you run your business. How do these values translate to your vision of an ideal reality? What are you trying to achieve or create?
Related post: The essential guide to defining your core brand values
Consider what you’re passionate about
This next way to help you drill down on your purpose is also an important part of building a successful business. It’s creating something that gives you joy. After all, what’s the point of having a business, even a wildly profitable one, if it doesn’t make you happy?
The thing about being passionate about something, is that passion can be almost contagious. If you feel strongly about something, it’s easier to sell the idea to others. It’s easier to be driven towards a goal you’re excited and enthusiastic about.
Something you’re driven towards — that sounds like a good “why”, doesn’t it?
How do you measure success?
When you’re building a business, it’s easy to get all caught up in the numbers. How much you’re making. How many people are on your email list. Page visits. Follower counts. Conversions.
I’m not saying you should ignore those things (I happen to think numbers are incredibly important) but beyond those kinds of things, how do you measure the success of your business? What are you really setting out to achieve? Not just for yourself, but for the people your business serves? What kind of impact do you want to have on their lives?
If you can break down what you do down to the goals you have and the achievements you want to reach, you’ll have a far clearer idea of what the purpose behind your business really is.
Once you figure out your “why”, put it at the core of everything you do. Your branding, your marketing, your sales strategy. It should all come back to communicating why you do what you do. Why your business exists. Not only is this going to give your business a convincing, authentic voice, but it’s going to attract your ideal audience. Other people who believe what you believe and want to be part of what you’re creating.
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