What is your why?

business management consultant

‘The only way to do great work is to love what you do’

- Steve Jobs

As you return to work after taking some time out over the summer months it is time to re-engage and focus on all those objectives set before the sunshine and football! But have you stopped to consider what is your why before you dive back into the what and how.


Most businesses focus on what they do and ensure they have the right systems, processes and people to deliver what they do at an agreed profit. The challenge is that most businesses work in a competitive marketplace where someone else is able to offer pretty much the same product or service at a similar price to the same audience. Put yourself in your customers shoes and ask why they should buy your product or service over your competitors?



Your success at delivering your what is likely to depend on how your teams work together. Articulating your culture and ways of working is key to delivering the desired results for your business. What are the core values and behaviours that guide your teams and are they evident in your day to day activity?


Finding your why

Really successful businesses, from start up to blue chip corporates, start with why. How does Apple remain one of the most innovative companies year after year? They started and continue to focus on why, not the what or the how. Steve Jobs mission statement was ‘to make a contribution to the world by making tools that advance humankind.’


What is your purpose?

It is your mission that defines you and truly sets you apart from your competition. Loyalty, where it exists, comes from people who share your beliefs and values. Your product or service appeals to them beyond its basic features and benefits.


Manipulation v inspiration

Simon Sinek in his book ‘Start with Why’ talks about manipulation v inspiration. Wouldn’t it be great if you could inspire your customer to buy rather than manipulate them via special offers, discounts and promotions. Manipulation leads to customer transactions not loyalty. How do you find those customers that believe what you believe? We need to appeal to them on a different level. They buy because they want to and your product is partly what defines them.


Give the people something to believe in

Before you can inspire your customer you need to inspire your own people. Your why bonds your teams together. It drives people to perform because they want to. It becomes the reason why people want to join your business. It attracts the right people who will further enhance your why. It becomes the engine room for growth as individuals perform for their own self-fulfilment as much as for the business benefit. Their personal needs are aligned to those of the business. Their objectives are met by the delivery of the business objectives. If growth or financial targets are your only why expect to lose talented people to those companies that are inspiring performance on a different level. And if you don’t understand your why then don’t expect your customers to. Expect to see them continue to shop around or seek another company who is delivering to a higher need.


Return to pragmatic delivery of your why

Once you know your why then turn your attention to the what and how. Steve Jobs, Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines and Walt Disney were all visionaries who inspired others with why. However they all needed how people to ensure they built the foundations for long term growth. You still need a clear plan, a team involved in its creation and a clarity of how things work in your business. Why is no substitute for having clear KPIs, accountability and the most talented team but it might just be the reason you still exist in years to come.


Can why be your difference

‘If you always do what you always did you will always get what you always got.’ If you are not reaching your goals perhaps finding your why might help.