When I was in graduate school getting my MSW, I was taught never to start a question with “why”. I understand that reasoning and for the most part I agree with it. During interactions with others, “why” puts people on the defensive and can imply that they made a wrong choice or are doing something wrong. Asking “why” can shut down a conversation instead of opening it up and moving it forward.
When it comes to running your business, asking yourself “why” on a regular basis is one of the most important things you can do. Let me explain. I was talking with a client this week who cancelled an appointment to shoot a video for the home page of her website. When I asked her “why”, she said needed to get clearer on how she was going to use it. She made the appointment with a clear goal – she wanted to create a short welcome video with her core marketing message that she could use on her home page. When she talked with the videographer, she was discouraged from doing that and given examples of people using video in other ways. She cancelled the appointment until she was clear on why she wanted the video, how she was going to use it and what outcome she expected to receive before she spent the money to create it. BRAVO!!!
As a business owner, it is your responsibility to figure out the “why” behind every decision you make. Before you start a project, implement a marketing strategy, hire support, change your business model or create a collaborative partnership ask yourself the following questions:
What outcome do I expect to receive? Knowing what outcome you expect will determine what action you take. Let’s use video as an example. Video is hot right now and can be used for many purposes. Do you want to welcome clients to your site and encourage them to join your list? Do you want to sell a product or service? Do you want to develop a following of raving fans on facebook and YouTube? You can use video for all of these outcomes and more. Knowing which outcome you want will determine what type of videos you create and how you publicize them.
How does this mesh with my values and further the mission and vision of my company? Knowing how a decision/action/strategy meshes with your values and helps you get to your big vision can help you weed out the fear based hype, passing fads and shiny objects that can bedazzle and confuse business owners. If you don’t have statements that clearly define your company’s values, mission and vision for growth, I highly recommend you create them immediately. It will save you a lot of time, money and energy when it comes to making decisions and seizing (or not) opportunities when they appear.
Where does this fit into my existing structures and systems? Whether you are deciding on a marketing strategy or developing a product, program or service, you have to know how it fits in with what you already have. Where does this product or service fit in your business model and sales funnel? How does this strategy fill a gap or enhance your existing marketing system? When you are just trying strategies and creating products without looking at where they fit in the whole, your business becomes disorganized and confusing for customers and can’t produce the results you want.
Why now? Timing is everything. You can have a great idea, but if the timing isn’t right, then it won’t produce the outcome you are seeking. When considering timing, it’s very helpful to know what emotion is driving your desire to do it now? Fear? . . . . Competition? . . . . Desperation? . . . . Passion? . . . . . Desire to fill a gap in the market place? . . . . Before you jump in, ask yourself if this is the right time or if you be better served to slow down, step back and plan it for another time?
Knowing the “why” of your decisions and actions before you start implementing will save you a tremendous amount of time, energy and money in your business. Doing something just because it’s the latest craze and everyone else is doing it or because Jack or Jill Guru said you should is NOT a good reason to do things. You are the owner of your business and the buck stops with your “why”.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article.