At a recent networking event, a question was asked “Is it important that you know your why? And to even have a why?”
There were lots of opinions on this from the panel, from “Yes, duh, of course it’s important,” to “I’m not sure”.
When I coach my clients who are looking to start a business or get clarity on their business direction, I always ask them “What is your WHY? Why do you do what you do?”
The easy answer for most of us, whether we’re in business for ourselves, or working for “the man”, is “to make money”. Dig deeper and you will come up with answers that have to do with family, quality of life and personal growth. That is, we work for the things, or feelings, that money can buy us.
But perhaps a better way to ask that question and get at the core belief behind your business would be “Why do you do the THING you do?” Why do you choose to be a nurse, a teacher, a kinesiologist, or a copywriter. Why is it that THING and not another?
It’s a question that I ask myself often, especially when wondering whether I should specialise in any one of my services, rather than continue to offer such a broad range. At times like these, I realise that I haven’t fully nailed my why, or at least, have forgotten it.
At the core of why I choose to do the job I’m doing and offer the services I do offer, is that I want women to be seen and heard in the world. I believe that we need more women’s voices telling their stories, starting their businesses and pursuing their causes. Women’s lives have been diminished for so long, reduced to being silent, unseen childbearers and house managers for millennia and I think it’s about time that women stood up, or were lifted up, and were heard.
This is why I embraced the world of personal blogging and have always been such a huge fan of women writers. I wanted to read about other women’s lives, whether they were astronauts, mothers, magicians, or crochet masters. All of those things matter and are just as important as the men’s stories that have been told for millennia and which continue to dominate our screens and literature.
I’m not sure though what came first for me – the WHAT or the WHY. The WHAT were all the skills I learnt through personal blogging and opportunities that fell in my lap through my networks. I was doing the things, the WHAT without really thinking about the WHY, even though deep down it was already there.
Having experienced domestic violence and learning for myself how badly women are still treated in our society, I knew I wanted to do something about it. I wanted to change society and the world. It just took me a while to figure out what it was that I could do with my particular skill set.
Today, I can put it all together: I help women build and grow their enterprises online, so that their voices can be heard on the world stage.
Now to the second question, does it matter if you know your why? I believe so. I believe that it gives you the strength to keep going when things are tough. It motivates you to keep innovating and growing. And it attracts like minded people to you like bees to honey. Clients whose why matches yours will choose you over dozens of others offering similar products and services. That why doesn’t have to be articulated clearly and explicitly through all your marketing, but it does have to be inherent in everything you do. It has to echo in your blog posts, in your website content, in emails to your clients and across your social media. If people don’t know you’re their kind of person, they won’t be able to find you.
And that’s another lesson for me. I have not been very good at going back to my core WHY and speaking through its lens to my target market. Even though I constantly advise my clients to do this, I have been recalcitrant at taking my own advice. So don’t be like me. Allow your WHY to infiltrate all your marketing and let me know how you’ve gone.