Why do we do what we do? It’s an important question, especially for small business owners as they embark on the important business decision making journey.

At a recent event held at Upserve HQ we were reminded of the importance of this question, both for individuals seeking fulfilling careers and those mavericks looking to lead their own business ventures and grow a business.

People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. – Simon Sinek

Without having a strong understanding and passion for why you do what you do in your business, the seemingly endless list of obstacles to overcome wouldn’t be worth the effort. But every day, thousands of independent businesses are operating across the country, many of them thriving. Why?

The key to success just might lie in the why of your business.

Simon Sinek’s “Golden Circle” presentation for TEDx has been viewed more than 19M times. His message is simple, it’s powerful, and it has seemingly endless applications. Jump to min 1:51 for the simple explanation of what Simon says just might be “the world’s simplest idea.”

His message comes down to these three questions: Why does your organization exist? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? Why should anyone care?

Here’s one of our favorite examples from his presentation: Apple.

If Apple were like everyone else a marketing message from them might sound like this: We make great computers, they’re beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly… want to buy one?

However, Apple’s consistent (and persistent) message to customers sounds more like this: In everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo and in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use, and user-friendly. We just happen to make beautiful computers… want to buy one?

By communicating from their why Apple has changed the conversation …the ultimate goal is to go from doing business with everyone who needs what you provide, to doing business with the people who believe what you believe.

We all could buy an iPhone or mp3 player from a number of providers, but we want to be connected to that idealism by a piece of Apple design, not just an electronic device.

If you approached your business decision making from this point of view what could you do differently? Better?

  • Tell more compelling stories: In this digitally connected age, people simultaneously have more choices than ever before of where to spend their money, and more interest in the motivations behind businesses.For example: Instead of “Buy one get one free” it becomes “we believe in thanking our customers for sticking with us, that’s why we’re offering an extra pair of shoes at no extra cost. It’s our way of saying Thank You.” Get it?
  • Make business decisions based on your why: You’re faced with hundreds of decisions a day, and sometimes have nothing more than your gut to go on. We have other thoughts on why you should be using data to back up the instincts you have for your business, but at the very least you should make sure your gut is aligned with your why.For example: If you’re goal is to share your culinary heritage then adding an un-inspired gluten free pasta option for the sake of being trendy doesn’t really align with your why. Hearing your customers’ desire to have healthy options and finding a family recipe that you can easily give a gluten-free twist to will satisfy your customers and your why.
  • Create lasting customer connections: From how easy it is to make a reservation, to how they are greeted at your front door, to whether your servers can remember their preferences, to how they pay their bill all of these are opportunities to create lasting connections with your customers.For example: If your why centers around creating a casual neighborhood restaurant where people can return for their favorite meal multiple times a week, you’d have different standards for reservation making, price points, and understanding customer habits and preferences, then if your why was to create a modernist culinary experience for diners to experience cutting-edge dishes from a star chef.

Figuring out your why is not necessarily a quick, or simple process.  Here are some more resources to get you started. But when done right “why” can give you a driving direction that simplifies business decision making and steers your business in a unique and personally satisfying direction.

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