· “Three social media lessons for your business from Ireland’s ‘Yes Equality’ campaign”
· “What’s the single biggest marketing mistake that most businesses make?”
· “10 Rules To Build A Wildly Successful Business from the Founders of ___”
When it comes to building a business that achieves your personal version of success, it can be dangerous and foolhardy to listen to the endless parade of “I succeeded and you can too” pundits that want to offer (sell) you advice. The fact is, just because someone else did something successfully doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you or that you would want the outcomes that they achieved if you were able to replicate them. There is no one size fits all, ten rules to success formula to achieving the business of your dreams. That’s not to say that no one is able to give you insights or advice that will lead you to the outcomes you’re looking for. What it does mean is that you have to look at the whole idea of what success is in a different light. Because no one else can tell you what success is for you. And if you don’t know what it is you’re trying to accomplish, you’ll end up allowing someone else (probably some “expert”) dictate your plans, the strategies you choose and the actions you take to get you where you didn’t want to go. In the words of Greg McKeown, “If you don’t prioritise your life, someone else will.”
So this is an essential first step - to realise that you shouldn’t set out chasing someone else’s definition of success, you should find your own. Think about why you started your business in the first place. No, really – think about it. Because I can guarantee that a frightening number of you reading this haven’t ever really thought about why you do what you do – you just do it. Most business owners start out by thinking about what they do – sell tyres, build pipelines, bake cakes – whatever. A few have even considered how they do what they do and maybe how that makes them different to everyone else in the market. But what business owners should start out asking themselves is, “What is my ultimate purpose?” This is what Simon Sinek calls “starting with why”. He’s posted a YouTube video on the topic that is well worth a look (not now, finish reading this first).
Your purpose is unique to you and your business. Competitors can replicate what you do. They can copy how you do it. But it’s damn near impossible to duplicate another business’ purpose. And the best part of that fact is that what people really buy when they do business with you is your purpose – they buy why you do what you do, not your products or services. And the people that work for you will buy into your purpose as well. Because people want to work with other people that share their values and want to pursue a purpose that’s bigger than any of them as individuals.
So purpose is where you should start. It’s where I start when I’m coaching business owners. Before I decide whether I’ll work with someone or whether they should be bothered working with me, I want to know why they do what they do. If they knew they weren’t going to make any money, what would be so important for them to accomplish that they would continue regardless? What’s going to make them get out of bed every morning, work their arse off, and keep coming back for more, even when there’s no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? Too often, profits are substituted for purpose. But they’re not the same thing. Businesses run purely for the purpose of financial gain have proven to be some of the least satisfying and fulfilling businesses to own, manage, work for and do business with.
I believe that there is no more important question to answer as a business owner than the question of purpose. However, the answer to that question doesn’t have to be some kind of mind blowing, change the course of the universe thing. More often, the most compelling purpose is simple and impactful. It’s something that will matter a great deal to you and a small but significant audience, but that most others might not understand. That’s ok. Actually, it’s more than ok – it’s brilliant! Because once you’ve found your purpose, it becomes the focal point for every other decision you need to make to get you to where you want to go. You have your definition of success and you can flesh it out, adding the fine detail of what it’s going to be like when you get there. Then, you can sift through all the content, advice and the sales pitches of the experts, choosing what will genuinely help you achieve what is most important to you.