The question why is usually associated with small children… ‘Why is that lady fat mummy?’ ‘Why is the sky blue? Why do I have to wear those shoes? …the bane of every parent’s life, the ‘but WHY..?’ question must be asked a hundred times a day.
What a shame we don’t ask it as often in business!
Well ok…maybe not a hundred times a day…but it is a very important question for anyone who wants to build a successful enterprise.
The most important WHY, and the very first time it should be asked, is when we are first thinking of starting our business… Why am I doing this? Why do I believe it’s important? What is my cause? My driving purpose?
As Simon Sinek will tell you in his great book ‘Start with Why’, too many businesses start with what they are going to do, and how they are going to do it…many don’t ever consider the why. Yet it’s the why that inspires, that draws a crowd, that makes for loyal, lifelong customers. It inspires your people too…they believe they are involved in something bigger than a job…they buy into your cause, and as a result they take ownership, they perform consistently well…they enjoy their work.
We buy into the why of a business not the what. If it was the other way around maybe people would be queueing round the block for the launch of a new Dell product, but they don’t. They come out in their millions for Apple because it is built around a why that inspires. A why so strong, that even after the death of Steve Jobs, and with the media predicting their demise and slating their new product, they pulled off their most successful launch ever.
Steve Jobs’ created a movement with a why that was all about challenging the status quo and empowering the individual.
Richard Branson has done something similar at Virgin. His why?…because UK consumers deserve better.
My why?…because business is all about strong, trusted relationships.