Strategic Planning- Know the Why
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Try the Why

We spent a lot of time crafting the Anchor Advisors, Ltd. marketing message. It’s amazing how long it can take to come up with a few measly words! But they were important words. They communicate what we do at Anchor Advisors and when we were finished with the process, I was happy with the result.

Strategic Planning- Know the Why

Then I saw Simon Sinek’s TED talk entitled “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” and it changed everything for me. I know it’s 18 minutes long and you don’t have 18 minutes right now to watch it. The good news is you don’t have to; he does a terrific job outlining his premise in just the first 6 minutes. So, go watch it right now.

Simon talks about how most business people describe what they do from the outside in. They describe “what” they do (We help business owners grow their businesses) and “how” they do it (By working alongside business owners to help them focus through regularly scheduled meetings, homework assignments and accountability to ensure they reach their goals.) But, according to Simon, less than 10 percent can articulate Why they do it.

In starting Anchor Advisors, Ltd., the Why was very clear to me:

  • Work is fulfilling;
  • Work, done well, provides a chance for people to contribute, to create something that they might not have been able to create alone.
  • Work gives life meaning;
  • Work provides an arena for achievement, for learning and for accomplishment. In fact, humans are designed in a way that we need to accomplish things; that’s where we get endorphins.
  • If you can create business where everyone is engaged, where they can see the results of their efforts and know that what they are doing is contributing to the goal, everyone can have that feeling every day. They want to come to work.

Big business does not always provide the opportunity for this type of experience. Small business does – or at least it should. Being part of a small team, where it’s easy to see how you contribute directly to an overall goal, can be one of the most fulfilling experiences of a person’s life. In small businesses – well-run small businesses – people experience that fulfillment nearly every day.

That’s why I started Anchor Advisors – to experience those feelings of fulfillment and joy myself, and to help others experience those feelings as well. But business owners often don’t experience that fulfillment, even in their own business. Business owners are often technicians; they know their chosen field, but not necessarily about business. They want to do the work, but running the business takes so much time that they get weighed down by too many tasks they don’t feel qualified to do. They can’t focus on the Why anymore. There are days when they even ask themselves, “Why am I doing this?”

But, when they are clear about their business purpose, they have the right people in the right seats and consistent processes, and they are watching their key performance indicators their business is strong, they have confidence and they are living their Why. People in those companies don’t think of work as drudgery; they want to come to work. They don’t resent taking time away from their home and family to do it. They will engage in it joyfully, because it’s part of what they were made to do.

I wonder if some of you are even resonating with this message in a different way than you have with other communications that you’ve read from me. Does it feel more “true”? Is it more impactful? Inspiring?

[To listen to a powerful aha! Why moment, go here, and start listening at 15:30.]

In crafting my marketing message, my Mission, Vision and Values, I left out the most important element: the Why. But it’s the Why that we are always trying to evaluate when we are listening to people. “What’s his angle? What’s in it for him?” If we can put that out front, tell people authentically Why we are doing this, defenses go down and people respond. Prospects respond. Employees respond. Vendors and partners respond. Everyone craves that authenticity.

So I’ve set out to write a manifesto, a short, concise, clear telling of the Why (as you can see it still has a ways to go) that will drive everything I do. I wish you would join me on this journey – to make your business a place where people can achieve and where they can achieve even more as a team, and where people aren’t dragging themselves in, but are engaged and contributing.

What is the WHY for you and your business? Does your team know that? Do your clients, partners, vendors and community? I’d love to hear from you about Why you do what you do.

Photo credit: Eleaf

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