So, you did it. You made it. You left your 9-5 to do your own thing. Maybe you did it 10 years ago, but that doesn’t mean you deserve any less of congratulations, does it?
People who haven’t made the leap don’t understand what it takes to get to the other side. But you do; you get it.
And so, I don’t feel worried about the depth of the question I’m about to ask. You can handle it.
What’s Your Why?
If you’re looking at your [enter device name here] screen with a puzzling look – shame on you. As a business owner, you should know why you wake up every morning and do what you do.
Otherwise, what the heck keeps you going when it feels like you’re bound for failure?
It’s not that complicated of a question, but if asked on the spot, it may seem like an overwhelming thing for someone you barely know to inquire.
And, though you may be thinking you don’t have an answer – or at least a good enough one – I’m willing to bet that you do have one, and a great one at that.
It may just be that your answer is hiding deep down, beneath all of your hard work, your determination, your creative ideas, your self-doubt, your pride, and anything else that led you to where you are right now.
Ready to figure out the answer to “what’s your why?” Use these five steps to discover what it is and start selling the s*%! out of it!
Step 1: Ask Yourself the Tough Questions
What would you be doing every day, all day, if you didn’t have to worry about money? Go ahead and be completely honest with yourself. If your answer is something like watching television or sleeping, I think you may be in the wrong place…
Just kidding! It’s okay to sometimes wish you didn’t have any responsibilities. We all feel that way sometimes. Now, take a deep breath, and think of something you enjoy doing, that you’re relatively good at, and think you could do every day – at least for a while.
If your answer is related to the business you’re running, that’s awesome. That means you love what you do, which is a great beginning to a reason for why you do what you do.
But even if your answer has nothing to do with your business, that’s okay, too. Your business doesn’t have to be your favorite thing, but it should be one of them.
What matters is that you have a powerful reason for doing what you do — which is also the answer to the question, “what’s your why?”
A “Why” Example to Help You Get Started
So, let’s dig it out – right here, right now; I dare you. I’ll start, so you don’t have to be put on the spot. I hate being put on the spot, so I feel you.
I enjoy writing, and have been doing it for fun since I was a child. Now, I get paid to write, but I also do it for my own enjoyment. I could write every day for the rest of my life and be okay with it.
But, thankfully, I have also found a way that I can write and pay my bills at the same time. I could also spend every day on the beach on a tropical island, but that wouldn’t pay the bills – unless I was also freelance writing – which, coincidentally, is completely possible.
Where I’m writing from right now, you’ll never know (my home office in New Hampshire), but the point is, I’m a writer because:
- I enjoy writing
- I’m good at it
- I help other small businesses tell their stories
- I decide when I work, and where I work from
Do I make the big bucks? No – at least, not yet. Does that matter to me? Not really. What matters is that I know why I do what I do.
Step 2: Make a List — And Check It Twice
So, your first task is to come up with as many reasons as possible – no matter how trivial or silly they may sound – for these reasons:
- Why you started your business
- Why you’re still running your business
- Why you believe in your business
- Why you think your business is valuable to others (your target market)
I can’t really help you with this part, but I think you’ll find that once you start your list, it may be much longer than you think.
Once you’ve come up with a solid list, you may want to go through it again and filter out anything that seems redundant, or that makes you think, “I’m not sure if that’s a good enough reason.”
Keep only the most powerful reasons, and get ready to share the answer to “what’s your why?” with the world.
Step 3: Create Messaging to Support Your Why
Now that you have the answer to “what’s your why” – which, by the way, is more than a lot of business owners can say – your next step is to share that with potential customers.
Why? Because that’s how you’re going to sell your products and/or services. You’re going to sell your story first.
It’s not enough just to list why you do what you do on your website. If you arrived on my site, and I had listed the four reasons above as my “why,” would you be impressed, inspired, or intrigued? Maybe, but wouldn’t you rather hear a story?
And, if I listed my “why” on every digital platform where my business is displayed – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yelp, etc., wouldn’t you get sick of seeing the same four reasons written in the same way each time?
Wouldn’t you rather hear a more engaging story about what I do and why I do it? I sure would.
Step 4: Refine Your Messaging
Creating messaging to support your why isn’t easy for everyone. If you’re not a writer, it may be one of those things you’d rather not have anything to do with. That’s fine, since that’s what people like me are here for.
But whether you’re doing the writing or not, you will still be heavily involved in shaping the messaging that is created around your why.
You’ll want to oversee the following elements:
Whether you tell your story through blogging, slideshows, videos, infographics, social media posting, emails, or any combination of the above and more – you’ve got to tell it as authentically and clearly as possible.
You don’t necessarily need to create a lot of content to get the message across; it just has to be the right content.
Step 5: Sum Up Your Messaging & Share It With the World
Once you’ve clearly defined the answer to “what’s your why,” one of the most difficult things to do is often summing up your message in a concise statement.
Once your messaging is developed ask yourself these questions:
- Is it clear?
- Is it consistent?
- Is it relevant?
- Is it honest?
I doubt that the right story would be one about that party where you drank too much and spent the next day reflecting on life – unless, of course, your business is selling the cure to a hangover, in which case, that might be the perfect story.
But seriously, if you’re selling hypoallergenic soaps because you’ve suffered from skin allergies all your life, then telling stories of trying different soaps and getting fed up with rashes and treatments would be powerful for others like you to hear.
If you’ve never suffered from skin allergies and have no idea what it’s like, don’t lie — no one likes a fake.
In fact, honesty may be one of the most important things to remember when sharing the answer to “what’s your why?”
Chances are, there are people out there who think and feel the same way you do, and they’ll be drawn to your business because of who you are, and why you do what you do.
But guess what, there are also going to be people who don’t like your story or your why, and that’s okay. You can’t – nor should you try – to please everyone.
Be yourself. Let the haters hate. With a good story, your business will sell itself.