Remember when you were a child and pushed or shoved a sibling, who then started crying? Soon, one or both of your parents arrived, and the first thing asked of you was, “Why?”
Why did you push your brother or sister? You might have had a ready answer: “because he looked at me funny” or “she was mean to me” or any other number of standard answers. But the truth is, you didn't really know why you shoved your sibling. A swell of emotions overcame you, and you just did it.
Chances are, you didn’t spend any time finding the real answer to your parents' question, because they/you moved on. Yet, the answer to the question, why? is the most important discovery you can make. It will help you reveal conflicts and change results that don’t work for you in every area of life. Including entrepreneurship.
"Why" is the question that really exposes purpose (the reason why something exists or is done). How many times do you set off to do something, and if you aren't stopped and asked, "Why are you doing this?" you don't really know the answer. We are reactive by nature and often don’t consider the question of "why" before taking an action.
For entrepreneurs there are two levels of purpose which, if used properly, guide every choice and action and can lead to phenomenal success.
Level 1 -- Why are you in business?
Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction. -- John F. Kennedy
People ask you all the time why you're in business. Yes -- why? you then ask yourself. Is the answer “to make the most money’’?
For almost all entrepreneurs, that is actually not the answer. You're doing what you're doing because you were drawn to create a business you found, and still find, engaging.
Take Facebook for instance. That amazing success story has a simple statement that encapsulates the “why” of its business. “We are building Facebook to make the world more open and transparent, which we believe will create greater understanding and connection,” the statement says.
This simple purpose makes its way into all Facebook does.
So, what's your answer to the question? If you have to think through your answer, you've got a big red flag. To process the answer, then, take some time to understand what you are passionate about and what you can stay with for a long time.
Whatever that is, no matter what anyone else thinks, it is what's right for you and will serve as the foundation for how to build your business.
Level 2 -- Why do I work?
Choose a job you love and never work a day in your life. - Confucius
We now know why the business exists. The second “why” question goes to the heart of who you are. When you think about working, what is your motivation? Is it a need for money? (There’s that money thing, again.)
Do you work because you are excited about creating something no one else yet has? Do you feel gratified by the impact your work has on others?
When we were young, adults began shaping us into workers. We were constantly asked by well-meaning relatives, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” This process continued through high school, where the questioning intensified. At that point, the question was, “What do you want to study in college?” The stakes were higher, because if our decision was off the mark, it might cost us dearly.
Throughout our education, however, there was no course that helped us explore what we loved, what we excelled at and what was important to us about work. And's too bad, considering how these questions could have saved our younger selves a lot of suffering.
The good news, though, is that it’s not too late to consider these questions now.
If you are an entrepreneur, there are a few ways these answers can help. For one, you may find that some of the things needed in a business, like accounting, are something you can do but hate. In that case, it's a great idea to get someone else to take this on.
You may also find that are you still living a lifestyle others recommended for you rather than the one you believe is best for you. So, change that, too.
Great success always comes from doing what you love for the right reasons. So, take some time to determine what they are right now. No matter whether you are a long-time entrepreneur, or an aspiring one, answer these two questions: Why does your business (or intended business) exist? And: Why are you working?
Make sure you formulate your answers in a quiet place and under no time constraints. Write down your answers and put them away for a day. Come back in 24 hours and read your answers again.
If they feel right, keep them close by. Read them every morning, and let them guide your decisions and actions. You will be amazed by what happens!