Do you know your ‘Why’?

Seems like a bit of an odd question, ‘Why?’ Especially when you don’t know why, the question is being asked. But it really isn’t and if you read the book ‘Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action‘ by Simon Sinek you’ll understand why this is probably one of the most important questions you need to ask yourself before starting a project, turning an idea into a business, or buying into a business.

This book isn’t another of those business books you read and get a paragraph or two of life-changing nuggets of information then wonder why you just spent a tenner on it, wishing you’d saved you time and money on something else! Sinek scrutinises the world of great business leaders, last and present, the great brands that we are all buying into everyday, every birthday, Christmas, Valentine’s because they’ve made a lasting impact on our lives.

Sinek rightly believes that “Leadership is the ability to rally people not for a single event, but for years,’ something that is well proven with so many household brands. Think of Apple (love the brand or hate it!). Most people, today, think of an iPhone when they think about buying a movie phone. Why? Because the iPhone revolutionalised the way we use our smartphones – there’s little you can’t do on them these days. Who knew that we would be able to ditch our cameras, walkmans, address books, maps, diaries and so much more once we got our hands on the iPhone. Other mobile pone companies have had no choice but to follow suit – that’s how great a leader Apple was and is. And, it wasn’t a one-hit wonder – they’ve been going for years, and have customers who would rather lose a limb than consider using another brand of mobile phone!

In ‘Start With Why‘, Sinek explains how businesses get this stickiness factor. Let’s face it, no business really only wants a customer to use them just the once – you want repeat business from all of your customers, again and again for months, years, decades! Since describes how the ‘Golden Circle’ helps with this.

Why? How? What?

In Sinek’s Golden Circle, he draws our attention to three important questions we should ask when working on a project or business idea:

1. Why? Why do you you want to start the project or business. If your answer is ‘To make money’, then you’re missing the point. The making of money is the result, not the ‘Why’. This question is based around why anyone should care about what you’re providing, what drives you (motivates you) to get out of bed in the morning to start the project or the business. I can share personally with you on this one, regarding Mothers Who Work. Almost 10 years ago, I set this website up to help working mums know their rights in the workplace. I’d been working on legal journals for one of the largest employment law publishers in the country and knew employment law inside out. Every time I’d drop my son off at nursery, or was commuting, I’d hear one horror story after another from women who were being mistreated at work. I would often butt in to offer some words of (legal) wisdom, but it soon became clear that this was a big issue. I knew I had to do something, and so Motherswhowork.co.uk was born. The aim: to help working mums know their rights in the workplace, help them stay sane, or show them how they could get out and start their own business (sharing inspiring stories of other mums who had done it) if they didn’t want to work for someone else. That was the ‘Why’. Can you see the difference?

2. How? How will you do your ‘Why?’ and how will you be different from your competitors? If your idea is nothing revolutionary, you need to have a unique selling point – whether your product or service is cheaper, simpler, whatever, it must have a unique selling point. So, going back to the iPhone example, before Apple showed the word that we could do so much more on our movie phones, e were used to BlackBerry phones that made emailing so fast and seamless. People around the world would walk around like zombies (yes, I was one of them!) using some sort of magic power to email and walk across busy roads, get onto trains and so on. Apple decided that having this computer in our pockets and handbags was what we all needed in our lives – and they were right. Adults, children and grandparents alike all took to it, and now having a brick (a phone that isn’t a smartphone) seems unthinkable. The unique selling point was the computer in our pockets.

3. What? This is about what you do. Do you know how to explain it t your potential customers? Brownie points if you do, but do they really understand what you’re talking about? ave you stripped out all the jargon so they actually understand and want to buy into your products and services? Sinek uses the example of Apple’s marketing of the iPod (remember that?) which promised ‘1,000 songs in your pocket’ – anyone can understand that. The techie explanation would have been ‘5GB MP3 player’, which would have lost most of the population. The difference in language when explaining the ‘what’ made all the difference and millions people bought in to it…and they are still buying in to it.

If you haven’t read ‘Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action‘ by Simon Sinek the is one to read. I could divulge everything here, but we all know about copyright laws. Apart from not wanting to get sued, reading the book yourself will highlight something personal to you and where you want your business to go – I simply can’t do that for every one of our 105,000-plus mums in one article.

If reading isn’t your favourite thing in the world, we love audiobooks, here at Mothers Who Work towers! Head over to Audible, download the audiobook – you can ‘read’ anywhere you are, whatever you;re doing.


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Written by Joycellyn Akuffo

Founder and editor of www.motherswhowork.co.uk, a mother of two wonderful children, wife, entrepreneur (check out www.geekschool.co.uk) and journalist.

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