Why are you in business?
Simon Sinek asked this question in his famous 2009 TED Talk How Great Leaders Inspire Action and opened brand new vistas into effective business leadership.
“I’ve watched Simon’s TED Talk and put a lot of thought into it, but other than to make money, I really don’t have a business why!” Surprisingly, this is a typical business owner comment.
Every owner is in business to make money and profit. Employees will follow the owner's lead and probably do a competent job, but without putting any heart into it.
“Yeah, we’re going to give up our summers and work tirelessly all year so Bob can buy a bigger boat and upgrade his Beamer,” said no one ever. Your coworkers want to find meaning in the work being done and upgrading your lavish lifestyle isn't quite the purpose ambitious workers long for.
What is a why?
A why is the cause that moves a business owner’s heart. Generally, it’s almost always based in service to others. This is not something invented, but an internal feeling or belief often unidscovered until thought about.
Examples of why:
The following examples all include one very important emotion: extraordinary passion.
- Ben’s blood pressure spikes and joins in on the conversation when someone mentions hack work and rip-off artists in HVAC. He’s in business to provide his customers with a product and service that excels beyond client satisfaction.
- Ed wants to build a team of expert technicians and looks to the New York Yankees for inspiration. Not only does he want his coworkers to be the best at technical and mechanical proficiencies, he wants them to be pioneers and to push the edge on innovative technologies.
- Stef is passionate about health and fitness for her family and herself. Not surprisingly, she usually hires folks who follow her beliefs. Her HVAC company also gets involved in community events to promote healthy lifestyles. When she’s up against other professional contractors who have clean trucks and sharp uniformed techs as well, her health and fitness reputation in the community gives her a unique edge.
In addition to passion, these owners have one other thing in common: Ben, Ed, and Stef have coworkers that believe in the cause and why in these businesses.
If you have yet to articulate your why:
As stated, a why should move your heart as an owner. While you work to discover what moves your heart, focus on creating raving, passionate, and evangelistic customers.
It’s natural for every business owner to desire validation for the company as a whole. Is the work being done effectively? Is it making a difference to others? Use the company to create emphatic customers and that provides the validation.
Ask the question, “Why would someone choose my business?” Instead of answering like an owner in the industry, take a moment to look through the eyes of the customer. While a common answer may be technical like, “We build beautiful sheet metal” as a valuable benefit, customers are more likely to be concerned with promptness.
If a customer cares deeply about technicians being on time, don’t just make a note of it and move on. Focus, nay obsess over ensuring workers are on time for every appointment.
As an owner, driving the company is a must. If a coworker isn’t using the word “obsessive” when describing a boss, detail-oriented skills are sorely lacking and it will fail to drive coworkers in the right direction.
Connecting the dots
To give an example, Steve, who is mentioned above, has yet to discover his why. To fix this, he takes the advice to create raving customers. Steve is a good business manager so naturally, revenue and profits increase with happy customers. Since he cares about his coworkers and treats them well, he also shares in success. The inevitable effect is an increase in company morale.
The advantage to this method is that once the why is uncovered, an engine has been created to drive it.
So, while aspiring toward the why, strive to foster relationships with passionate customers through hard work and dedication to eventually create loyal clients.