Simon Sinek gave a brilliant TED talk in 2013 entitled “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” and according to him, it all comes down to Why.
The theory, is that Why is at the centre of everything we do, and that it informs our How and our What, but that most businesses start with the What (e.g. what am I going to sell, what services am I going to provide etc).
Ethical entrepreneurs don’t start businesses with the sole focus of making money. We do it because we have another (some would argue stronger) driver behind us – we want to create change, and we want to have a positive impact on people and planet.
As a changemaker, you probably already know your ‘Why’.
Your Why for your business is it’s purpose, it’s mission, and it goes WAY beyond making money.
If someone asked you why you do what you do, or why you want to do the thing that you want to do, you can probably reel off 5 or 10 reasons before you even pause for breath. It will be in there, shaping your decisions and your actions, even if you have never really sat down and actually thought about it. But it’s where it all starts from and it’s vitally important to take some time to sit down and to think about it, to write it down, and maybe even create a mission statement, or a manifesto.
– Defining your Why will help you to really get clear about your purpose is.
Why do you do what you do? Who are you helping? Why is this important to you?
These are all big questions, and too often we get so caught up in the How and the What, that we forget to even ask them of ourselves, let alone allow some time to actually reflect on them.
– Defining your Why will help you to craft your message and communicate your mission to potential customers.
According to Simon Sinek, people don’t buy ‘what’ you do, they buy ‘why’ you do it.
For example The Soap Co don’t just make luxury soap products, they also provide employment for visually impaired and otherwise disabled people. Their aim aim is to “create a brand that demonstrates that there is no trade-off between luxury products, beautiful design and social impact.” That is their ‘why’, and that is why their customers choose to buy from them, rather than anyone else.
– Defining your Why will provide you with a baseline to check back in with.
It will help to ensure that all your business actions, actually fit with your Why. It will help you keep on track, and when you are facing decisions about which way to go with your enterprise, just asking the question “does this fit with my Why” can bring real clarity.
– Defining your Why will help to keep you motivated when things get tough.
Starting up and running a purpose driven business is a brilliant, brilliant thing to do, but it isn’t always easy. There will be times when you doubt yourself, when things get tough, and you might start to question what you are doing. If you have your Why laid out and written down somewhere, you can refer back to it, to remind you why you are doing what you are doing, and why it is crucial that you push on through, because you are creating real, impactful change.
As ethical entrepreneurs, the motivation for starting and growing your business will go beyond money. You are motivated by things other than money, so getting really clear about what these other things are, about why you get out of bed in the morning to do what you do, acts as a really strong motivator.
– Defining your Why helps you to define your own measure of success.
I’ve already said that for many changemakers, the motivator is not money. So if you aren’t defining your success by your financial bottom line, how will you know that you are succeeding? It might be kgs of waste saved from landfill, or number of cars taken off the road, or the number of people you’ve empowered to step away from consumerism by teaching them how to mend their jeans.
Use your Why to help you define your own success metrics.
So what’s your Why?
Why do you do what you do? Or if you are just starting out, or have a dream, why do you want to do these thing? What gets you out of bed in the morning? What wrongs are you making right?
Do share below, or come and join my brand new Facebook Group, #MakingGood, for changemakers everywhere! If you have a purpose driven environmental business or project, or are doing good things with your blog or community project, then this is the place for us to come together, share tips and resources, and to support and motivate each other to #makegood things happen!