The Power of the ‘Why’

By: Karl R. LaPan, President & CEO, Northeast Indiana Innovation Center

If you have not read the book or seen the Ted Talk on Start with Why Sinek Video, you really should. Simon Sinek captures the essence of “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Often this is the rallying cry of entrepreneurs and would be entrepreneurs in recruitment of talent, launch of an innovative product or service and exerting their passion to do something different or to think differently. Entrepreneurs often see around the corner before others do. They connect disparate dots in ways most people don’t. This is why, at any one time, only about 11% of adults are engaged in entrepreneurial endeavors.

As entrepreneurs, it’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind. But I challenge you to take a step back for a moment and consider the why. Why are you in business? If you can’t easily answer this question, this could provoke some soul-searching. Here are three reasons you should keep your why in mind in your day-to-day operations:

  1. It’s grounding. Most businesses take longer, cost more, and earn less than you think, at least in the short run, and there can be lots of setbacks along the way. If you’re only doing it for a paycheck, it can be easy to abandon ship in the early stages. However, if you have faith in your concept, it’s easier to go the distance. You’ll likely appreciate your success more, given the humbling journey.
  2. You have an end game in mind. Your “why” is the reason your business has staying power. You create great products or offer exceptional services to your customers because it’s critical to your mission. You hire and train quality personnel because it’s vital to your purpose. The customer experience is flawless because it’s essential to your purpose. These practices aren’t means to an end; they are ends in and of themselves.
  3. A sense of purpose is contagious. Think about your ‘tribe ‘for a moment. Why do they support you? They likely love what you do and want to be part of it. The same goes for your workforce, especially Millennials. This generation is known to be socially conscious and that ethos extends to their work lives. They want to participate in meaningful work in their careers. Since Millennials will dominate the workforce in a few years, having a clear and engaging purpose will become even more critical to attracting talent.

Why are you in business? What drives you to get up every day and do what you do? Passion + Persistence + Purpose are key ingredients for entrepreneurial success. I’d love to hear your comments.


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