Starting With Why - a MUST read if you have your own business!

When I start working with a new client, the first thing I do is get them to fill out a brief about the company itself. The project briefs will follow, but the first step is to get a sense of who they are as a company, what they’re about and most importantly, why they’re doing what they do. That is, their driving force, their motivation and their purpose as a business.

It has become apparent to me that although most businesses do know what this driving force and their company core values are, many small businesses have difficulty articulating this - their why - and don’t have these concise statements down on paper.

Hence i’ve often found myself recommending the book “Starting With Why” by Simon Sinek.

I first came across this book in my first year of clinical practice and it really helped me to not only understand my own driving force in work, but that of the company I worked for. Having these core values align, I believe, helped me immensely both in my outlook to work - helping me to thrive in the workplace, as well as getting a fresh insight into business, leadership, marketing and connecting with people. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

It is a mid-sized book, or a 7 hour and 12 minute audiobook. Personally I prefer the audiobook version because I like being able to listen while I drive (and it helps me feel that my commute in traffic was just that little bit more productive!). Luckily, there’s also an 18 minute ted talk that sums up a few of the main points, check it out:

There is a lot you can gain from this book and I haven’t met a single person that has read it without gaining value from it. Each time I read it I feel like I learn something new, so I I thought i’d share 2 quick things I was reminded of from reading it again recently:

1. Your customers may need your service and what you do, but they will connect with and continue to be loyal customers because of why you do it. For example, imagine that there are 3 coffee vendors in the same walking distance from your workplace that all produce equally good tasting coffee at the same price. One of these really makes sure to let you know that they use the best organic products in getting that cup of coffee to you because they believe in doing the best for your body by keeping everything as natural and organic as possible so you can lead the longest and healthiest life. The others seem to serve coffee for the sake of serving coffee and making money (or they never share their why they do it). In this case, there's a good chance that if you also want a long and healthy life that you will choose that first coffee vendor. People connect to your why and that builds loyal customers. You've got to get it out there! And ensure anything you do, say and services you offer reflect that WHY.

2. Through everything you do and all of the information you put out, people should be able to see what you’re about and your why. As with anything we come across, we use the information available to us to make a judgement call, whether it be about a business or a product or a person. When all that you do and offer align with your why, then it’s easy for people to see what you’re about through the information you put out, and if they share those values, they can connect with your business and choose to become your customer even before they’ve picked up the phone or walked into your store. Simon Sinek describes this as the ‘Celery Test’ - imagine the different aspects or components of your business are items in a supermarket trolley. If your message is to lead a long and healthy life and your trolley has a substantial amount of fruit and vegetables but also has chips, biscuits and ice-cream scattered through it, then the checkout operator won’t have a clear message as to what you’re about. If you put a product on your shelves that is poorly made but you claim to use only the best materials to produce superior products, then you are likely to lose the trust of your customer. Does all the material you put out reflect your why? How about your content? You can check out Simon explaining the celery test here, skip to 1 min 23 sec into this 4 minute video!

Hopefully that gave you a couple of things to think about! I know it did for me. I could actually keep writing so many more nuggets of gold I took in from reading it for perhaps the 5th time but perhaps i’ll save it for a later date - after all, you have some reading to do… Good luck!