THE BLOG
07/30/2015 02:47 pm ET Updated Jul 29, 2016

How to Never Forget Your WHY

As many entrepreneurs, I find myself binge watching TED Talk videos. They are quick bites of inspiring "ideas worth sharing" that are perfect for the busy entrepreneur. One TED Talk I always recommend for small business owners is by Simon Sinek. In his Talk titled "How Great Leaders Inspire Action", Sinek challenges us to know the WHY of our business long before we begin plotting out the HOW and the WHAT.

As Sinek mentions during his TED Talk video (and in his book "Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action"), "People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it."

Consider this question: What is your purpose--why does your business or organization even exist?

For most entrepreneurs--especially those of us who are building socially responsible companies--we did start with WHY. But the overall act of growing a business and the day-to-day tasks we need to accomplish can make that WHY a bit foggy. After all, marketing campaigns need to be created, sales prospects need to be updated, team members need to be hired....the list literally goes on and on, filling up our "to do" lists and our minds with a lot of WHAT and HOW--and not much room for the WHY.

Always being in pursuit of the WHY helps us create the right strategies for HOW we do things and WHAT types of products and services we actually create. It is the WHY that keeps our business goals in line with our overall values--it's what keeps us balanced and what ultimately will help us grow our businesses.

You see, it isn't just about starting with WHY, it's about never forgetting your WHY. Here are a few tips for how you can make sure your WHY is at the core of some of your key business areas:

Human Resources
Hiring a top-notch team is one of the most difficult and critical functions you perform for your business. And for us social entrepreneurs, the hiring process becomes even more difficult as we build a team that not only boasts the business experience we need, but shares our social passions. It isn't just about finding candidates who best connect with your WHY. It's also about creating an environment where team members are motivated and inspired to make a difference. At my company, this means professional coaching and encouraging personal development--it's caring as much about our people as we do our work. "Unless you give motivated people something to believe in, something bigger than their job to work toward, they will motivate themselves to find a new job and you'll be stuck with whoever's left," writes Sinek. Inspired employees make for better companies and better communities.

Marketing
The next time you sit down with your team to create new marketing messages and content, don't start the conversation with what you need to say and how you are going to say it--start with answering the question: Why should people care? For example, a Facebook post about a blog on my company's site states: "Read our latest blog post for 3 healthy ice cream recipes and our best tips for keeping treat time mess free." We could have simply said "Read our latest blog post", but when we started with our WHY (creating healthy and clean environments), it changed our messaging and helped us to better connect with those who have similar values. Use this strategy for all your outbound marketing messages--blog posts, e-newsletters, direct mail pieces, website copy-- as well as developing your customer personas and overall marketing strategies.

Sales
Your sales pitch probably includes a lot of information about the benefits and features of your products and services, but have you forgotten about your WHY? If you start your sales pitch with WHY the product exists in the first place, the product itself becomes proof of, as Sinek says, your "higher cause--proof of the WHY." In addition to making sure your sales team has a clear understanding of your WHY, take some time to go through your current sales process and add WHY to every step. For example, "Who are you targeting and WHY?" "What will the proposal look like and WHY?" or "What are you going to ask your prospects and WHY?" If the answer to your WHY doesn't match the WHY of your company, make adjustments to the step.

Never let the daunting tasks of growing a business take you away from the pursuit of your WHY. Always remember what inspired and excited you about starting your company and keep that spirit alive and well in all aspects of your business.