Discovering Your "Why" As a Creative Entrepreneur

Raise your hand if you've ever gone to the grocery store without a list, looked around, and thought, "I have no idea what I need."

I know you can't see me, but I'm raising my hand right now. In fact, I'm typing with one hand (ok, I typed "I'm typing" with one hand before I got annoyed and brought my hand back down).

This can be catastrophic enough as it is, but add in an empty stomach and you're likely to end up walking out with bags full of food you shouldn't be eating - trust me.

Running your business without having a basic understanding of your ultimate goals, processes, and vision in mind is like walking into a grocery store with no list and an empty stomach. Sure, it's possible to walk out with just a few essentials, but it's extremely difficult and, even if you succeed, you're not going to have a week of fulfilling meals.

Creative entrepreneurs are particularly passionate about the work we do. Because our work comes from our hearts, we're keen on using our skills and talents to improve what we envision the world to be. But what if we're not sure what that looks like? What if you don't know why you do what you do?

I hate to break it to you, but being a creative entrepreneur without understanding your "why" statement is going to keep you both from doing your best work and getting the best customers.

If you truly want your ideal customer to connect with you and the story you have to tell, you need to have a basic understanding of why you do what you do. To do this, you must ask the right questions, write down your thoughts and draft a simple and clear "why" statement.

Ask The Right Questions

Why Did I Start This Business?

Starting a new business from scratch is scary. Not only does it mean leaving the safety and security of a steady paycheck and benefits, but you're also 100% dependent on yourself to make a living and, well, keep yourself from suddenly becoming homeless.

Whether you decided to start your business yesterday or 10 years ago, think back to the reason why you decided to take that leap in the first place.

Maybe you came across a problem that hadn't yet been solved by another product or you were interested in using your talents to help the people you believe in. Or, perhaps you had to start out of plain necessity in order to pay the bills.

Whatever your reason is, write that down and refer to it as you draft your "why" statement.

What Inspires and Motivates Me to Continue?

As a business owner, you know that some days can be really tough. You might wake up on the wrong side of the bed, have a customer who just won't leave you alone about an issue they found with your product, or just don't feel like working.

When you've encountered those moments before, what have you done to combat them? Personally, I've done everything from laying on the couch staring at the ceiling for waaayyyy longer than I should have (to be fair, anything longer than about 30 seconds is probably too long to do this) to trying to push through it and work anyway. 

Needless to say, neither of those strategies have worked for me. So, one time I was feeling particularly down in the dirt, I asked myself: why am I doing this? Who is benefiting from this work?

Putting the focus on who I'm helping takes the mindset away from "I don't want to do shit" to "I want to help this business succeed." 

Now, it's your turn. What gets you through the bad days? What reassures you that taking this leap was the right thing for you both personally and professionally?

What Is My Brand Promise?

In other words, when your customers interact with you and your business, what are they guaranteed to take away from the experience? 

Your brand promise tells your customers that what you have to offer is sure to meet their individual needs. It's what your customer will immediately refer to as soon as they hear your name.

"Your brand is what people think of you when you're not in the room."

Let's use a couple of examples. Think about Geico. What will you get from them? How about, “15 minutes or less can save you 15% or more on car insurance.”

What about Apple? How about, "Think Different."

As soon as you think of Geico, you're likely to remember it's a way to save some money on car insurance in just a few minutes. With Apple, you're going to think about their design - the sleek, chic silver Macbooks - as the brand was originally designed to make the consumer think differently about computers. 

Your brand promise should be both measurable and meaningful. In other words, don't just say you "have the best customer service." According to whom? How do you know? Create a brand promise that's true to who you are and why you do what you do.

Create Your Why Statement

Now that you have the pieces of the puzzle put together, take a look at what you have written down. It's time to break it down into a short and simple statement which is just that: a statement that you can say in just one quick sentence.

Simon Sinek, one of the people credited with this idea from his book Find Your Why came up with a simple template for you to use as your why statement. It's:

To_________ so that ____________.

As an example, this is Sinek's why statement:

“To inspire people to do the things that inspire them so that, together, we can change our world.”

As you craft you why statement, consider both your impact and your contribution. In other words: how do you want your work to affect the world and what will you do to make that happen? 

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To help you craft your "why" statement and begin exploring your brand story, I've created a free downloadable worksheet designed to help you work through the process. This worksheet gives you a base to work from and additional questions and tools to help you begin to discover your brand story.

Download the worksheet for free and get started with taking your brand to the next level today.