Defining the “WHY” behind your business and communicating it to your audience is the essential first step in creating a compelling brand.
I first learned this principle from online educators and mentors Scott + Elise Grice. In their online branding school, My Own Irresistible Brand, they teach that knowing your “why behind the why” is the foundation of an irresistible brand. And a brand that is irresistible is one that “people can’t help but love, trust, and buy from.”
The Elements of Your Why
Creating a brand that people can’t help but love doesn’t happen accidentally. It happens through an intentional process of discovery. A process where you dig into all the things that make you who you are: your experiences, your loves, your desires, your skills and gifts, and equally important, your values.
Make no mistake, this takes courage. It’s a messy, raw process.
In the end, defining your why will bring you to the real reasons why started your business. The deepest reasons behind why you do what do.
Sonia Simone of Copyblogger says in her recent blog post, The 7th Most Powerful Principle of Persuasion, the practice of “connecting with your values also has the lovely benefit of reminding you just why you’re in the game in the first place. What you care about. What you believe. What you cherish.”
And those are exactly the things that your brand should communicate. Your why should make itself felt in your work, in your words, and in visual presentations (like your website).
Like attracts like. Sharing your why is powerfully magnetic, attracting the people you most want to work with. It creates connections, beautiful strands of commonality. And as Sonia says, “When you build a business that’s rooted in things that really matter, you create a much better experience for your customers. You also enjoy your life a lot more.”
My Why Behind My Why
Does it seem like sharing your deepest “why” feels a little like giving a speech in your underwear? Truthfully, it feels a lot like that. Fear of rejection looms large. But, we must feel the fear and do it anyway, or as Elise Grice says, trust the process.
In that spirit, here is my own why behind why I started my web design business:
I created Ascent 121 Media to have the freedom to craft a life of purpose by passionately pursuing what truly matters in life: knowing God and glorifying Him by expressing my gifts and talents unapologetically, nurturing and serving my family, and loving and serving others. When I’m 80, I want to know that I didn’t waste any of the good things God gave me – time, money, talent, and experiences – nor did I neglect the gifts He gave me – my beautiful family, friends and community. I want to know that I lived my life well, unfettered by fear, worthless things, and empty pursuits.
Finding Your Why is Priceless
Arriving at that succinct statement did not come easily at first. However, the clarity that came from doing the hard work of unearthing the treasure of my “why,” has become the compass that guides everything I do, or don’t do, in my business.
Your Why Defines Your Greater Purpose
It’s out of my personal convictions that I believe I am called to live a life of purpose using my gifts for good works. Rather than seeking after riches and fame, I strive for the things that truly matter in life.
The truth is, I could do that in a number of ways. For instance, I could work in the corporate world as web designer. But part of my deeper why is that while I crave a life of purpose, I also desire to craft a life of freedom. A life by my design where I don’t have to compromise what I feel is the most important good work, being a wife and mother.
When I was younger, I vowed I would never have children, choosing to pursue a career instead. Pregnant with my first child in my late twenties, I suddenly wanted to be at home with her more than I wanted a career. This complete change of heart took me by surprise. Embracing it wholeheartedly, I left my job in the Coast Guard that I absolutely loved to pursue this new path.
In my mind, it was either/or. Either I could be a career woman, or I could be “just” a stay-at-home mom. No matter which side of the “or” I was on, though, I felt nagged by a feeling of wanting more.
My deeper why behind my web design business is desiring to live in the “ands” of life. I desire to raise my children without compromise AND express my gifts doing what I love. Running a business allows me the freedom to be at home with my children, while at the same time to use my creativity to help and serve others.
So there it is. Now you know why I do what I do. The real reasons.
It’s not just because I love design and writing, or that I have experience doing both. I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur, but that isn’t the entire reason, either. I get geeked about CSS, HTML, and SEO, yes, but even those are not the reasons behind why I am striving to build my business.
All those things are absolutely true of me (yes, even the geek part). They are all part of the reason why I started my business. But, my real why is that I crave a life of freedom, fulfillment and purpose. I see using my gifts in an entrepreneurial way as the catalyst to living a life that matters. My business reflects my personal values of faith, family, freedom, purpose, passion, education, and serving.
Your Why Attracts and Repels
I fully realize that as you read this, my views may collide with yours. Or, they may resonate with you. You may find yourself repulsed, or your heart may quicken in agreement with what I have shared.
And THAT is the point of finding, and sharing, your own “WHY.”
You are either attracted or repelled by what I shared. If you share the same values, you may stick around to sign up for updates, to read another article, or maybe even hire me. If you don’t, you will leave my site and seek out other people whose values you do share.
I’m okay with that. And, even though it seems counter intuitive to sound business practices, you want this in your own business, too.
Because as Simon Sinek says in his TED Talk, How Great Leaders Inspire Action, “the goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have, the goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe. Because people don’t buy what you do. They buy WHY you do it.”
It’s Your Turn – What is Your Why?
What is your why? Why are you pouring your heart and soul into your business? I’d love to hear your “why” in the comments.