First Things First
This time of year I end up in lots of conversations with clients who are starting new businesses. I think it’s the kids returning to school – the “new year” phenomenon seems to inspire a “new opportunity” attitude. But after 35 years of working to help others turn an idea into a business I’ve learned that first things definitely need to come first.
When I get the phone call or email – “Hey Chris, I’m thinking of starting my own business!” I only ask one question – why?
Before discussing the what, or the when it is critical to establish the “why” of this new business idea. Simon Sinek is a pretty awesome business writer. His book “Start With Why” is an insightful look at what makes businesses successful. If you don’t have the patience to read an entire book, you could watch his TED Talk on the subject on YouTube.
If you lack the patience for an 18-minute video, let me boil it down to his foundational concept. He says (and I’m going to paraphrase) “people don’t buy what you sell, they buy why you sell it.” In other words – people don’t do business with you because of what you do, they do business with you because of WHY you do it.
If that why is powerful, and it resonates with someone then they become a customer/client. If it doesn’t then they don’t. This all seems pretty simple. The point of it is to know what your purpose is, communicate it clearly, build all your systems and operation around it, and attract the people who most agree with it. They become fans, and make your business successful.
If you don’t have a powerful why, then don’t bother. Typically people start businesses because they don’t want to work for someone else, or they can’t get the job they’d prefer. This is a bad why. This is a venture that will only create a job for you – not a business. Others have bought the line “follow your passion” and seek to start a business doing something they love. I love to watch movies – but until I have a powerful why wrapped around my love for watching movies I’m just kidding myself.
Example – Have you been to a Cinepolis movie theater? It’s the luxury movie house that provides big reclining chairs, full service to your seat (including adult beverages), pre-assigned seating, and a beautiful setting. It’s pricey, but it is clearly executing a why that is attracting fans. When I am going to see a block-buster, or just want to pamper myself I am more than willing to pay the surcharge for the experience.
Then there’s the “luxury” theater buried inside the Regal theaters at the Irvine Spectrum. The tickets are expensive and the seating is assigned. But the experience is significantly lacking. It’s obvious that this is not Regal’s why. It’s just a commercial attempt to “me too” into the luxury theater market. It will not have the same success that Cinepolis does; nor should it.
If you are considering starting a business, or if you are already in business, take a minute and figure out your why. Why does or should this business exist? Don’t settle until you have identified a powerful why. Then step back and consider all the things your business has to do to successfully communicate, support and operate that why. If you can do that, then your business will be successful. Good luck, because your business and your money matters!
Chris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Categories: Business & Finance