Dig under the surface and figure out your ‘why’

We could learn a lot from five-year-old kids. No matter what they’re doing, there is always curiosity in the why.

When it comes to your business, it might be time to think about your own whys. Why do you get out of bed every morning and run your own business? Knowing your ‘why’ will help you stay committed, and inspire others to get on side too.

What’s your why?

If you are honest with yourself, it’s probably not money. You can make money working for someone else, and with far less risk. So, what is your motivation? Entrepreneurs have a range of reasons for doing what they do – creative independence, personal satisfaction, financial autonomy. All of these reasons boil down to freedom, which takes many forms.

For some, it’s the ability to make decisions without being hamstrung by corporate and political red tape. It could be the opportunity to create a product or service that is different, outside the sphere of traditional options. Or your own business gives you the freedom to structure your life and your time around what is important to you – family, friends, travel or maybe just golf.

Finding the right reason

Money is not the reason entrepreneurs stick out the grind, day in and day out. It’s not enough to keep you committed to your targets and goals. Money will also not sustain you through the highs and lows of a business.

And if money is your only goal, how do you know when you’ve reached success? When you buy a home? When you make your first million? Because the more ‘stuff’ you acquire in life, the more you need, and the more money you need to sustain it.

This is when the importance of your ‘why’ becomes apparent. It will push you through the hard times and growing pains, and be the reward in the good times.

So, why are you doing this, if it’s not the money?

Find your passion

Everyone has a different reason for doing what they’re doing. TOMS is a shoe store unlike any other in the world. When the founder, Tom, was travelling in Argentina, he saw many children who didn’t have shoes. Wanting to make a difference, however small, he founded TOMS Shoes. If you buy a pair of shoes from him, he donates one pair to a kid in need. So far, that’s been more than 60 million pairs of shoes distributed in over 70 countries.

While that’s quite a dramatic story, it’s also genuine. That passion is infectious.

Customers want more than just a product

Customers want to feel like they are doing more than just buying a product. They’re supporting a cause, a passion, something bigger than just consumerism. Let your customers know that you love what you do, and they’ll respond to your enthusiasm.

That core value should also guide you as you expand. TOMS has added a range of products, and all with the same proposition. If you buy TOMS coffee, 140 litres of safe drinking water are given to a community. With every bag you buy, a pregnant woman is given a birth kit.

Don’t know what your passion is?

Simon Sinek, author of Find Your Why, talks about the what, how, and why. We all know what your business does. If you’ve drilled down, you know the how – how you deliver the goods. But the why is the reason people want your product.

You know what you do, you know how you do it, you just have to find your why. Go back over past events that had a big impact on your life, and think about why they did.

Go to your family and friends (the ones you trust to be honest) and ask them what they think your greatest skills and strengths are. You’ll get a confidence boost to hear the positive things that people say about you, but you may also be given a list of skills you didn’t realise you had.

This is the start of tracking back to find your why. Why are you in manufacturing? Is it to create a product that’s good for the environment? Are you a teacher because you were highly influenced by great teachers yourself?


Passion is catching

When you find your passion, people know. They see your eyes light up when you talk about your business. They see your energy and drive. Once you’ve found your why, other people see it too. And genuine passion and enthusiasm are catching. People see them and they want to be a part of them. That’s when you know you’ve found your why. That ‘why’ keeps you sustained through the bad times, and gives you energy to keep pushing in the good times. So, whats your why?