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Are you missing the point when you talk about your business?

While this has long been true, where people have talked about features instead of the benefits a product or service can give, today’s savvy buyer is looking for even more: they’re looking for a business with a clear purpose and values with which they can identify – it’s about “Finding Your Why” and articulating this clearly.

And it goes beyond the buyer, too: employees increasingly look at a sense of purpose and the values of the business before joining, or when deciding whether to move on. As do suppliers and others throughout the value chain.

What’s more, given that the leadership sets the tone for the business, it’s worth keeping the words of Simon Sinek in mind, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Recognise that your “why” goes beyond making profits. It’s about a meaningful cause that drives passion and differentiation and is the very reason your business exists. When this purpose is clear, it guides decisions and culture.

This article explores the significance of “finding your why” and how it can positively impact your business.

The Essence

Your “why” is the driving force behind your business. It’s the core purpose that fuels your actions, decisions, and is the very essence of what you offer to the world. Rather than being about the products or services, it’s about why the company exists at all.  

For example, look at Apple. Although recognised for its products that are stylish, functional and reliable, its core philosophy is about thinking differently, challenging convention and, through its products, enabling people to achieve more, and encapsulated in it’s 1997 “Think Different” campaign.

So, reflect on your origins. Every business has a beginning, and your origin story can provide valuable insights into your “why.” Think about what inspired you to start your business, was there a particular problem you wanted to solve, a passion you wanted to pursue, or a gap you wanted to fill in the market? These roots often hold the seeds of your “why.”

Defining Your Purpose

Having a clear sense of purpose is vital for any business, providing a strong foundation and inspiring everyone to continuously strive for excellence.

To uncover the purpose of your business, ask yourself what positive change you want to bring about, what problem you’re passionate about solving. How would you make a difference in the lives of your customers, employees, and the greater community in which you operate? What are the underlying values that drive your decisions and actions?

Listen, too, to your customers. Conduct surveys, interviews, and other interactions to understand why they choose your products or services, and what works (or doesn’t). Their insights can help refine your purpose.

For instance, Patagonia, the outdoor apparel company, is driven by a purpose beyond profits – to help save the planet. This purpose isn’t just a tagline, but is reflected in their commitment to sustainability, environmental activism, and transparent business practices. Its customers aren’t just purchasing jackets, but buying into a movement that resonates with their values.

Your purpose should inspire and resonate with both your team and your target audience.

Discovering Your Values

While your purpose defines the destination, your values are like a compass that guides your journey. They represent the fundamental principles and beliefs that dictate how you operate, interact, and make decisions, and serve as the foundation of your company culture, shaping your relationships with your team, customers, suppliers and all stakeholders.

Zappos, the online shoe and clothing retailer, places immense importance on its values, as famously outlined in its “Zappos Family Core Values.” These values, including “Deliver WOW Through Service” and “Create Fun and A Little Weirdness,” drive Zappos’ unique customer service approach and company culture. By aligning actions with values, Zappos has fostered customer loyalty and differentiation in a competitive market.

Be clear on your values – they will define your company culture, and a strong company culture is invaluable for a business, as studies like this show. Companies were tracked over an 11-year period and those with a strong culture averaged more than 4x the revenue growth, 7x the net income growth and over 12x the stock price growth of those without.

Crafting Your Authentic Story

Today, we’re saturated with choice, and consumers are increasingly seeking brands that resonate with their values and beliefs. By clearly conveying your purpose and values you can establish an emotional connection with your customers and foster loyalty.

Through their power to engage and inspire, stories help your audience to connect with your business on a personal level and so create this connection. Your story should weave together the threads of your business journey, highlight pivotal moments, the challenges and triumphs that shaped your path, examples of your values in action, and customer success stories, too.

Sharing your genuine struggles and growth moments resonates with the human experience. When customers understand your challenges, they’re more likely to trust your brand and align with your values.

TOMS, the shoe company famous for its “One for One” giving model, really shows the power of storytelling. The founder, Blake Mycoskie, shared his story of inspiration during his travels and the desire to make a positive impact. This resonated deeply with consumers who wanted to share by contributing to the mission of providing shoes to those in need.

Remember, too, that your story does not exist in isolation. It needs to be woven through all you do:  services, products, marketing campaigns, customer and supplier interaction, and, of course, your staff and overall company culture, ensuring real consistency and authenticity.

And periodically revisit this in the context of your purpose and values. Are they still relevant in today’s marketplace, or do they need to be adjusted and realigned as your business grows and evolves, and your mission changes?

In this way you create a powerful connection with your target audience. People want to support businesses that align with their own passions and values, and they become loyal advocates who will champion your brand.

Conclusion

In a business world driven by profit and competition, defining your why becomes a powerful tool for success. Your purpose and values are the foundation upon which your business is built. By understanding and effectively communicating your why, you can forge deep connections with your audience, differentiate yourself from competitors, and inspire your team. It’s not just a marketing tool, but the very heart and soul of your business.

Remember, people don’t just buy what you do; they buy why you do it.

In a world filled with choices, your “why” becomes the North Star that guides customers to you, not because of what you offer, but because of the genuine impact you make. So, take the time to explore your purpose, reflect on your values, and share your authentic story. In doing so, you’ll create a business that not only thrives but leaves a lasting mark, too.

 

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If you’d like to read further, the following articles and posts might be of interest.

Other posts in this month’s focus on Defining Your Purpose and Values:

Crafting Your Vision – “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.” – Jack Welch

Defining Your Mission – “Mission statements guide you to do the right thing when you’re standing at a crossroads and don’t know which way to go.” – Anita Campbell

Establishing Your Values – “Values are like fingerprints. Nobody’s are the same, but you leave them all over everything you do.” – Elvis Presley

 

Related posts:

From Forbes: What ‘Finding Your Why’ Really Means

Link to Simon Sinek’s Book: Find Your Why

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