You know what your business does – it’s the products and services you create and sell. You know how your business achieves that – it’s your processes, policies and the way you work with others. But do you know why your business does what it does? That’s a vital question, and answering it can help you strengthen your brand, be more authentic, and give you a greater sense of purpose.
Starting with why
Rather than explaining the importance of understanding why you do what you do, I recommend you watch this excellent video of a TED Talk by Simon Sinek. He neatly explains the concept of “Starting With Why” and the reasons it connects so strongly with people.
Understanding your business’s “why” and the values it has can be a deep and profound exercise that needs self-reflection, effort and time. When you know the values behind your business, you can:
• Understand why your business exists.
• Put meaning at the heart of what you do.
• Give your customers something authentic to relate to.
• Create powerful change.
Defining your business values
So, how do you define and understand the values behind your business and where it’s coming from? It’s simple and involves working backward from what your business does. You do that by asking the same question several times.
That question always starts with why, and could be one of several variations:
• “Why does my business exist?”
• “Why is my business important?”
• “Why do I care about my business?”
You’ll choose the question that works for you. Once you have the question, you need to apply it to your business at least three times.
Step 1 – Think about your business – what it does, who it matters to, what it’s good at, how you do what you do. Capture all of those thoughts in your mind and ask the question the first time. Think about the answer, and you’ll know when you’ve got it right.
Step 2 – Now, take the answer from step 1, understand what it means to you, why that answer matters, and how it represents what you and your organization do. Ask the “Why” question of this answer, so you can dig deeper. You’re getting closer to the values behind your business. As you do this, you’ll feel the ideas and values behind your business becoming clearer.
Step 3 – Take the answer from step 2 and ask the “Why” question one more time. Try to explore the thoughts and emotions your business evokes, what it inspires in you and why it matters. You’ll understand when you’re close to those values.
Keep doing this until you feel you’ve reached the foundation of why your business exists and the reasons it does what it does.
Those are your business values.
Now that you have those values, write them down. Make them part of how your business operates, share them with your employees. Look at the way you brand your business, the content you create, the products and services you provide. Look at your business from a high level – your business values need to be integrated into everything you do.
These values become part of your long-term vision. They drive your decisions and make sure everything in your business is integrated in the right way.
Your values are what your business is ultimately built on. As you find a way to share and reinforce them with your employees, partners and customers, you’ll strengthen those values and create a better business everyone can truly relate to.