3 Steps To Finding Your Why For Starting A Business

3 Steps To Finding Your Why For Starting A Business

IT FINALLY BECAME CLEAR AS TO WHY I STARTED MY BUSINESS!

What’s interesting, is that I reached this epiphany though, long after I had actually started my business!

Now you might be thinking that this is not how its done, and to some degree you are right.

However, over the years sharing my story with other entrepreneurs and founders, I have discovered something quite profound.

It doesn’t really matter whether the initial reason or driver for starting your business is your “why”, or it comes later!

What does matter is this…

At some point on your entrepreneurial journey, you do need to get to a place where you have a compelling “why”, if you are to be in this, for the long run.

If you don’t get this, you will not succeed because there is nothing there to sustain you.

What this means then, is that your “why” needs to be visceral.

It needs to be on a level that you are deeply connected with what you are doing and the difference or contribution you are making, or will be making and whenever you are speaking about your business, others can see, hear and feel your passion and conviction.

Now of course this means different things to different people.

Just think about Richard Branson and Bill Gates – both very different personalities, though successful entrepreneurs.

That’s because it’s got to be you – your authentic self, and sometimes that takes a lot of deep soul searching to really find out what that is for you.

 

BEWARE OF FALSE GODS

Because there are complications in seeking your “why”, and it is these same complications that initially prevented me from reaching clarity about the reasons for starting my own business, let alone scaling it.

Simply, there are false gods that will distract you from your real path!

What I am talking about are the things that you think are important or matter, but are actually only superficial.

For example, collecting job titles are misinterpreted as real achievements, when in reality, they are often influenced by our ego.

Also, while there are things that motivate you to move away from (like a mean boss) that gets you to take initial action do serve a purpose, it is the things that pull you forward to a place you would rather be is what is essential for your entrepreneurial journey in the longer term.

Much of this of course can be put down to what Tony Robbins describes as motivators of “pain & pleasure” and “the six human needs”, in which one or two of these six needs will be more dominant for you.strategy-purpose-the-six-human-needs

For example, for me it was initially about “significance” and “variety” that drove me to do what I do.

However, only when I started to reflect on the bigger picture, I realised it was more about “growth” and ultimately “contribution” that I was really seeking – it just took a lot of years of living to figure that one out!

So, this very personal journey of mine in self-awareness of “why” I started and continue to grow & scale my business, led me to realise that there are basically three steps to figure all this out…

 

THE 3 STEPS TO DEFINING YOUR “WHY”

Step 1 – What’s Your Big Dream (Vision)

The first step you need to do, is to figure out what your “big dream” is. You vision.

Now what I mean by this is, what is it that you can see (or visualise) yourself doing in your future? What do you want to become? What are you prepared to stand up for?

It’s a relatively simple question, but not easy to answer if that makes sense because you must give yourself time to reflect and maybe even experience a few things until you arrive at your understanding of what this is for you.

Remember, this is about you and your dream, not somebody else’s, because it is your guiding beacon to keep you focused that aspires you to move forward! 

What’s your big dream?

 

Step 2 – What’s Your Reason For Living (Purpose)

The term “ikigai” combines two Japanese words: iki (生き) meaning “life or alive” and kai (甲斐) meaning “worth or benefit” to arrive at “a raison d’etre” – or reason for living.strategy-purpose-ikigai-the-reason-for-living

It is also in the culture of Okinawa, where ikigai is thought of as “a reason to get up in the morning” – a reason to enjoy life.

Because ultimately, we want to take your “big dream” and craft it in a way where it is your Profession, your Vocation, your Passion, and your life Mission.

What’s your “philosophy of life” (your purpose)?

 

Step 3 – What’s The Impact You Will Make (Mission)

Last for step three, is to think about what sought of impact specifically, that you want to make.

For example, Rotary International with later support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, mission is to eliminate polio from the face of the planet. In comparison, a client of The Startup Business, is working to provide affordable green energy solutions in their region, knowing that they are playing a role in reducing global carbon emissions.

What’s your mission?

These three steps work together to provide you with the necessary clarity as you start, setup, scale, and sustain your business into the future.

 

HOW I FINALLY DISCOVERED MY “WHY”

I said earlier that I discovered my “why” for starting my business long after I actually started it.

Where this happened though, was even more surprising…

Flowing through China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, & Vietnam, the Mekong River is the twelfth longest river in the world.

There I was, travelling solo along this great river delta through Cambodia, hitching a ride on an old fishing boat, with the hot sun beating down on me and the noise and smell of a diesel motor running constantly in the background.

Nevertheless, I could quietly reflect on the landscape passing by. Rice paddies, banana plantations, small villages with their houses built on ten-metre-high stilts, women washing clothes, men fixing nets, children swimming.

At this very peaceful moment of sitting back and observing life go by, I was suddenly struck by a sense of lack of satisfaction from what I had been doing professionally.

You see, much was around achieving things, but in all reality, little fulfilling. For years I had been helping businesses become more efficient but doing this and working for somebody else which typically meant trade-offs and even at times, compromising on my personal values.

So in that moment of great clarity on the Mekong River, I thought what if I keep doing what I am really good at, but on my terms, not on somebody else’s, and focus only on the types of projects and initiatives that I am really passionate about that can make a long lasting contribution to society… maybe even the planet?

I then wrote in my diary “I want to live and contribute, anywhere, at any time”.

While these words may not mean anything to you, they serve as the foundation, of my “why”, and what drives me today.

What drives you?

 

IMAGINE KNOWING THAT EVERY DAY YOU ARE MAKING AN IMPACT

I fundamentally believe that we all have a purpose. We are all here to make a contribution. We are here to make a difference. In a positive way. It’s just that you may not know what it is right now.

But imagine, if today you did know what your “why” is. Do you think that could make a difference to where you and your business is currently at?

I believe it would, and that’s why I am so passionate in sharing these ideas because it made a huge difference for me and my business.

You see, I believe in Learn, Lead, Legacy and being a force for good.

Because you must continue to Learn today as we are living in ever-changing and disruptive times.

But of course, learning and not stepping up, is not an option today. As much as this may take you out of your comfort zone, you must step up and Lead, and when you do, you lead by example.

You be the standard that others look up to

Lastly, and most importantly to us, is what we do. Because what we seek to achieve is to be sustainable and to make a difference, an impact, a Legacy.

That’s why we do what we do.

 

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I Could Never Do That

I Could Never Do That

Bear with me for a moment, but do you think it is possible to learn new things?

Do you think it is possible to learn new things regardless of your age, your gender, your culture, your abilities, your location, your financial status, your health status? Do you think this is possible?

Perhaps somethings we can learn, are relatively straight forward and others are more complex. Maybe you want to learn how to fold a shirt in less than five seconds, well there is a YouTube video on that. Maybe you want to learn about quantum physics, yes another YouTube video.

But maybe somewhere in between those two examples we hear ourselves saying: “I could never do that”. To me that is worse than: “You could never do that”.

This is why having a sense of purpose is so important.

So if you are contemplating starting a business, or you are in the process of setting one up, or are well on your way with an established business, it is critically important for you to have a clear understanding of why you are doing this.

In corporations, Mission, Vision and Values Statements are used:

  • Mission – what are we (the business) about?
  • Vision – what are we (the business) going to ultimately accomplish?
  • Values – how will we (the business) accomplish goals?

Mission
The mission statement of a business justifies and explains its reason for existence. As the business’s purpose, the mission should guide everything the business. At every organizational level, individuals can use the mission to evaluate priorities. If a proposed course of action doesn’t further the mission, it shouldn’t be pursued.

Vision
A business’s vision is its ultimate goal, its interpretation what success will look like in the future when the company accomplishes its purpose. The vision statement translates the mission’s statement of purpose into a specific destination that implies or explicitly states action. The business’s vision shapes the business’s long term or strategic goals or objectives.

Values
Values are the defined principles in how the business will go about conducting itself in order to achieve its Mission and Vision. In all my businesses, the core values are Learn Lead Legacy. These are also underpinned by my Ethical Principles and Sustainability Practices (some businesses may have similar but is written as a Code of Conduct). I have written them because they are important to me and re-inforce my Mission and Vision.

Goals
Then and only then, once we are clear on our purpose (our Mission, Vision and Values) then we can define our strategic objectives or goals. The goals fulfil the business’s strategic plan. They take at least a year — often several years.

Short-term goals, the business’s tactical objectives, take up to a year to achieve. Every tactical objective that is completed brings the business closer to fulfilling its strategic goals.

Operational goals deal with day-to-day operations, carrying out tactics on the front line. Employees bring them to completion in a single day, a week or a month.

Now in talking to many of my clients and other entrepreneurs and business owners, I see that we often jump straight into operational goals. However I think the more time you spend figuring out your Mission, Vision and Values, you will be more energised to drive the required outcomes from your goals at a later stage. You will be more empowered and focused to make better decisions in the longer term. Considering many of these decisions are financial, getting it wrong could be catastrophic for you – something you definitely do not want to do.

So how can you do this?

Well I would suggest the following…

First, find time and a space that you will not be disturbed. In fact perhaps a space where you may feel inspired. It is essential that you are in your optimal emotional state for this.

Second, get hold of what every writing or capturing instrument that you enjoy – for me I use the Moleskine coloured note books (different colours for different themes) and one of my favourite pens.

Third, write and keep writing. Start with your purpose and then keep adding to it. Do not be judgemental at this stage. The objective is to get your thoughts down and then you can start to organise them further.

Fourth, be patient – this does take time, may be months. However the outcome will be linking you emotionally to your purpose of why you are wanting to set up or scale up or sustain your business – perhaps one that will be your legacy.

Finally, if you are still struggling and find that voice inside you says: “I could never do this”, well make sure you learn how to fold a shirt in five seconds, then if you have to, progress to quantum physics. Because I am convinced that somewhere in between you will be up and running!

The-Startup-Business-Dr-Ross-McKenzie

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