People don’t buy what you do – they buy why you do it.
That’s the message Simon Sinek explores in his book, “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action.”
The book is the subject of a TED Talk he gave in 2010, that has since been viewed over 35 million times.
There must be something to it, yes?
Yes, because after reading it, I found myself lying awake for hours, thinking about those core questions we all need to answer.
Why does your business exist?
Why do you do what you do?
What purpose, cause or belief keeps you going – no matter what?
What is your why?
Your WHY is a belief you hold about your business, your employees, clients and customers. It’s what sets your work apart from others in your field. It’s what matters most about the way your business shows up in the world.
It’s what drives you personally – and always has, probably since you were a kid.
It’s what makes it all worth it.
When asked why they started the business they have, many entrepreneurs will say they wanted to be their own boss, make more money, have more freedom.
And yes, those are important.
But your clients and customers don’t care about that; that’s not why they love you.
That’s not what drives them to buy your programs or tell others about your services. That’s not what draws them to you over countless other options they could choose instead.
And I’ll bet none of that really fuels your fire either.
No – it’s your heart, and the heart of your business – that does that.
They don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
Over 20 years ago, I had a vision. I wanted to build a top notch counseling practice, a business that provided quality help for all kinds of needs – whether I was the one providing it or not.
I also wanted to support women entrepreneurs in building their businesses too – though I didn’t use that language back then.
That was WHAT I wanted to do – not why.
And on the surface, sure, I was seeking freedom, income, a way to be home with my little ones.
But my why ran much deeper than that.
You can probably tell me WHAT you do, too – but can you tell me why you do it?
I can – now. :)
I didn’t know much about running a business back then, but I realized pretty quickly that not many women were doing that.
Those that were didn’t get much help, either, so I decided to change that — because at my core, I live to empower others.
I also wanted to create a community of providers who came from a place of compassion, competence and abundance — because I believe that we live in an abundant universe.
There is plenty of need (and business) to go around, and we do more good for more people when we quit worrying about who gets the credit.
I didn’t realize it then, but that was my start as a business coach, and in the years since, I’ve watched that vision become real.
One provider after another has grown her business through that practice. In fact, today, it is considered an honor to work there.
They’ll tell you they are there precisely because they feel empowered to be who they really want to be — as counselors, and as business owners.
And the clients who fill their offices are there because they feel the truth of our desire to make sure they’re getting what they need.
In other words, the providers at that practice are there not because of what we do, but why we do it.
And their clients are there for the same reason.
What about you?
What is the real reason your business exists? I hope part of your why is, indeed, to make money. Because without that, you can’t do much of anything else.
But I know, too, that there is much, much more.
Successful businesses are built by leaders who inspire others, creating trust and loyalty along the way. And we follow them not because we have to, but because we want to.
Your vision for your business, your why, is what builds that loyalty. It’s what gets you up in the morning. It’s what keeps you going on the days you want to quit.
It might even make you tear up a little on those days when it’s just so perfect you have to pinch yourself to believe it.