What’s your ‘Why’?

I invite you to think about the why behind your business. Running a business, especially these days, is not for the faint of heart. In order to succeed you need to know why you are in it. Simon Sinek has made a name for himself helping people find their why. I encourage you to check out his website and watch his TED talk at www.startwithwhy.com.

The tendency in business is to start with “what,” as in what are we going to do? The next consideration is “how” – how are we going to identify potential customers? And finally, after figuring out what to do and how to do it, you think about why you are doing it.

Often, business owners say they are in business “to make money,” but it’s really more than that. There are a lot of ways to make money but you chose your specific business. Why? Sinek urges people to start with why. He contends that once a person figures out their why, they will have a much clearer sense about how to proceed and what to do.

I know this is true in my own case. At NFR Communications, my business, our why is about strengthening small businesses. I am passionate about this purpose. How do we strengthen small businesses? We do it by working directly with the banking industry. By providing information, ideas and analysis to community bankers, we enable bankers to be more effective small business partners through lending, other financial products, and counsel. The “what” in our case is NorthWestern Financial Review magazine and its accompanying website.

With a clear sense of why, you have a better chance of arriving at an effective answer to “what?” Instead of viewing why as the destination, view it as the engine. You have heard about purpose-driven enterprises; these are run by folks who know what their why is.

A strong sense of why is important because the best customers are those with whom you share a strong sense of mission. When two entities share a mission, they become partners. Relationships — business and otherwise — rooted in a common mission have a much better chance of enduring than relationships based on other factors such as price, convenience or even service.

So what’s your why? If you aren’t sure, take some time to think about it.

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