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The "Why" Behind the "What": Unraveling the Heart of Your Business

Updated: Jan 31

Ever sat down to hash out business goals or brainstorm product ideas and found yourself staring blankly at the wall, wondering, "What are we actually trying to achieve here?" If you nodded (or gave an internal "yep"), welcome to the club. In the hustle and bustle of hitting targets, launching products, and chasing growth, it's easy to get caught up in the what and the how of business, leaving the why gasping for air in the dust.

But here's the thing: Defining the "why" behind the "what" is like finding your business's North Star. It's the guiding light that makes sense of all your efforts, decisions, and strategies. It's not just about making money (though that's important, no doubt). It's about understanding the deeper purpose of your business, the core reason it exists in the first place. So, how do you go about defining this elusive "why"? Let's dive in.

Start with a Trip Down Memory Lane

Every business has an origin story. Maybe you started your company to fill a gap in the market, solve a personal frustration, or create something you wished existed. Revisiting the roots of your business can help uncover the initial sparks of your "why." It's a bit like digging through an old journal and discovering what motivated you on day one.

Look Beyond the Balance Sheet

Profit is essential; it keeps the lights on. But your business's "why" should transcend financial goals. Think about the impact you want to have on your customers, employees, community, or even the world. Are you looking to make life easier, bring joy, challenge the status quo, or perhaps contribute to a greater good? Your "why" is hidden in these broader aspirations.

Ask the Tough Questions

Getting to the heart of your "why" requires some soul-searching and, yes, asking tough questions. Why does your business matter? Why should anyone care about your product or service? If your business vanished tomorrow, what would the world miss? These questions force you to peel back the layers of your business onion, revealing the core of why you do what you do.

Listen to Your Tribe

Your customers, employees, and closest advisors can offer invaluable insights into your business's "why." Customers, in particular, can tell you why they choose your product over others, highlighting the value you bring to their lives. Employees can share why they're passionate about coming to work every day (and it's not just about the paycheck). These perspectives can help shape and refine your understanding of your business's purpose.

Make It a Team Sport

Defining your "why" shouldn't be a solo endeavor. Involve your team in the process. After all, they're the ones bringing your vision to life. Conduct workshops, hold brainstorming sessions, or even organize a retreat focused on uncovering your collective "why." The more brains on the task, the richer and more nuanced your understanding will be.

Embed It Everywhere

Once you've got a grip on your "why," don't keep it a secret. Embed it in every aspect of your business, from your mission statement and marketing messages to your product development and customer service. Your "why" should be the thread that ties all your activities together, giving them meaning and direction.

Live It, Breathe It, Be It

Finally, your "why" should be more than just words on a page; it should be a living, breathing part of your business. It's not enough to define it; you need to embody it in your actions, decisions, and leadership. When faced with a tough decision, ask yourself, "Does this align with our why?" This commitment ensures that your business stays true to its core purpose, no matter how much it grows or evolves.

Defining the "why" behind the "what" in business isn't just about crafting a catchy tagline or filling a section in your business plan. It's about digging deep to uncover the essence of your business, the core purpose that drives everything you do. It's about making sure that every product launched, every marketing campaign rolled out, and every customer interaction reflects that purpose. So take the time to define your "why." It might just be the most important thing you do for your business, providing clarity, inspiration, and direction for years to come. Remember, people don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it. Let's make sure your "why" is worth buying into.

Simon Sinek's Golden Circle

In the quest to define the elusive "why" behind the bustling "what" of your business activities, Simon Sinek's Golden Circle theory is like stumbling upon a treasure map. This simple yet profound model cuts through the complexity of business strategies, guiding you straight to the heart of what makes your business tick. So, grab your explorer's hat, and let's dive deeper into how the Simon Sinek circle of why can illuminate the path to understanding your business's true purpose.

Unraveling the Golden Circle

Imagine three concentric circles: at the center is "Why," encircled by "How," and the outermost circle is "What." Most companies work from the outside in, starting with "What" they do, moving on to "How" they do it, and sometimes never even touching on "Why" they do it at all. Sinek flips this approach on its head, advocating for starting with "Why" – your purpose, cause, or belief.

Why: The Core of Your Existence

"Why" isn't about making money—that's a result. It's about understanding the reason your business exists in the first place. What's the purpose, cause, or belief that inspires you to do what you do? This isn't just fluff. Identifying your "Why" is about connecting with something that resonates deeply with you, your team, and, importantly, your customers. It's what sets you apart from the crowd and fosters loyalty.

Incorporating the Golden Circle into our journey to find our business's "Why," we start by looking inward. Remember our trip down memory lane and the tough questions we asked? That's where we begin to unearth our "Why." It's not just about the services or products we offer; it's about the impact we want to make and the legacy we aim to leave.

How: Your Unique Selling Proposition

Once you've got a grip on your "Why," you move to the "How." These are the processes or values that bring your "Why" to life. How do you do what you do in a way that's different from everyone else? This might involve unique approaches to product development, distinctive company values, or innovative customer service strategies. The "How" is about articulating the ways in which you bring your "Why" to the world.

What: The Tangible Output

Finally, we arrive at the "What." This is the tangible output of your business—the products or services you sell. It's the most straightforward part of the Golden Circle, but when it's backed up by a compelling "Why" and a clear "How," it becomes more than just a transaction; it becomes a way for customers to buy into your "Why."

Integrating the Golden Circle into Your Business

So, how do you put the Golden Circle into practice? It starts with reflection and conversation. Use the model as a framework to guide discussions with your team about your business's purpose, values, and actions. Embedding the "Why" into your business means making it a part of everything from your mission statement and marketing materials to your daily operations and customer interactions.

Live It, Breathe It, Be It—Revisited

Remember when we talked about living, breathing, and being your "Why"? Simon Sinek's Golden Circle gives us a roadmap for doing just that. It's not enough to know your "Why"; you must integrate it into the very fabric of your business. Your "Why" should inform every decision, shape every strategy, and be reflected in every action.

Wrapping Up with the Golden Circle in Hand

Simon Sinek's Golden Circle isn't just a tool for understanding your business better; it's a call to action. It challenges us to lead with purpose, to inspire rather than manipulate, and to build businesses that don't just make money but make a difference. By starting with "Why," we not only discover the heart of our business but also learn how to share that heart with the world in a way that's authentic and impactful.

Incorporating the Golden Circle into the process of defining your business's "Why" isn't just about finding your North Star; it's about charting a course that others want to follow. So, as you navigate the bustling world of "What" and "How," let your "Why" be your guiding light, leading you to a place where your business isn't just successful but also significant. Let's make your "Why" worth buying into, worth believing in, and, ultimately, worth building upon.



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