What? How? Why? And the story of your life…

Businessman and questions

The story of your life (so far) is what it is.  As a business owner or leader you have made choices that have created the path that leads to where you are at this point in time.  It’s your story and in that story, your Why exists…and it turns out that your “Why” is the key to success. People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

“Finding WHY is a process of discovery, not invention.” ― Simon Sinek

Let me share an example to show you what I mean:  Marty is a physically fit and mentally sharp man who looks at least 10 years younger than the birthdate he was given over 7 decades ago. A few days ago he was discussing his business with a group of his peers.  He’s been struggling with the growth of his business over the past several years and the frustrations were mounting.  Curiously, someone asked “So what’s your Why? (in your business)”  Typical of many business owners, he was able to fire back quick pointed answers, and they were all honest, sincere statements, but they were mostly answering “What” he did and “How” he did it.  The “Why” was not coming through and the lack of clarity fueled the conversation.

However Marty is very clear on a lot of other things – he has defined his target market in a very specific way…something every company should do regardless of size.  At the very least a clearly defined market provides direction for sales and marketing efforts of a company. Without that clarity, you’re going to be lost – no business can be all things to all people.  In Marty’s case, he has defined a specific industry and also a very specific segment of that industry.   So in terms of Shallow and Wide vs. Deep and Narrow, there was no question his business plan had clarity on where it was focusing its efforts.  Marty was all in on the Deep and Narrow.

But the fact is, he wasn’t clear on everything. Here was this well-educated man, with an MBA with Honors in Marketing & Finance, years of successful corporate experience working with fortune 500 companies, and an intentional business model that is 100%  focused on a very clearly -defined market segment, yet he is unable to articulate his “Why?”.  There had to be more.

Others in the group added their thoughts and suggestions in an effort to get to the heart of this thought provoking question he seemed challenged to answer.  He answered a few “How’s” when he explained how he had two homes and splits time between them to match the climate he prefers, how he operated his business, how he helped some past clients, and so on.

Then he added he wanted to be a good a father and grandfather to his family…. it felt like the “Why” was getting closer.  But the question still remained.

Find your Why and you tell your story…

Pressed one more time with “But that still isn’t your Why”   Marty leaned forward and spoke with a passion that is hard to describe. He said “15 years ago I lost my first wife.  She had a professional career and was under a constant stress and I lost her.  She was 53.”   And with that, Marty’s “Why” was a mystery no longer.  He’s driven to help women business owners (even more specifically female dentists) find a way to succeed without all of the stress from their business. That’s the kind of motivation that makes everything else – his what, his how…fade into the background. This is a guy who will do whatever he possibly can to help his clients because of what he believes (his “Why”). That’s the kind of guy you want to hire if you fit his target market.

His niche is very narrow, but his model is not constrained by geography. If you know any female dentists who live in Tucson, AZ,  Walnut Creek, CA, or anywhere else in the country that has ever thought they might want someone to help them with the “business side” of their business, please introduce them to Marty. He has discovered his Why and he would love to help them discover theirs!

Do you ever ask yourself what your Why is? Why do you get up in the morning? Do you share that “Why” with your team or your customers?  Want  to learn more? Simon Sinek gave a great TED talk explaining the Golden Circle of What? How? & Why?  It is one of the best, most watched Ted talks of all time. Discover your why, tell your story and it will make all the difference.

We’d love to hear what you think – share your thoughts in the comments below.

Chris Steinlage Kansas City Business Coach