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Wellbeing / Business values

Discovering your purpose and why it matters

Simon Sinek famously said “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” So how do you go about figuring out your ‘why’ … and why is it even important to do so?

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Just before I started my business, someone sent me a business plan template that included the question of ‘purpose’. Given I still had many unanswered questions about what I was trying to achieve, I wasn’t sure I was even ready to consider why.

I didn’t know yet that discovering my purpose would end up being the single most important factor in helping me to clarify my business offering, shape my direction and connect me with the most inspiring, engaging people I had ever met. These are the people I’m now lucky enough to call my clients.

Human beings are wired for connection. We’re continually looking to belong. We seek out people who share the same values and those who have a similar world-view to ours. When we find those people and get to know them, we feel a common bond and we build trusted relationships with them. This happens in both our personal lives and our businesses.

"Your purpose is about more than just the profits you make or the products or services you’re offering. It’s also about the impact you want to make in the world."

Simon Sinek, author of Start With Why found that most businesses forget about the importance of such connections and because of this, they do their marketing backwards. They start with ‘what’ they’re offering, they think about ‘how’ they’ll deliver it and many don’t even get to the question of ‘why’ they’re doing what they’re doing.

Along with researchers from Harvard Business School, Sinek found that having a sense of ‘why not only enriches your life (and the lives of those around you), it gives you the opportunity to create lasting relationships with people who truly believe in what you believe in. It goes without saying that these are the same people who will become your most loyal customers and the biggest advocates for your brand.

Your purpose is about more than just the profits you make or the products or services you’re offering. It’s also about the impact you want to make in the world.

When discovering your purpose, you need to be open and honest in sharing that message with your audience. All of your business decisions need to be benchmarked against it. Aligning with your purpose means saying and doing things you genuinely believe in. It is from this place that you’ll begin to stand out from your competition and create connections with your customers that go beyond your next business transaction.

Discover your purpose by answering the following questions

  • What makes you different?
  • What’s unique about you? (Hint: The things you loved doing as a child are often a good way of connecting with the authentic you).
  • What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in your life and how have those lessons shaped you?
  • What’s the single most important impact you’d like to make in the world?
  • What would you like to be remembered for?

Putting it into action

Once you’ve identified your purpose, use it to shape the language you use in your marketing messages. Make sure your messages are genuine and real. Use symbols such as images, stories and even events that tell your audience “this is what we believe in”.

Start taking a holistic view to business. Be human, make it personal and be comfortable to acknowledge things that are real.

Finally, be generous. Your purpose will always be about making a contribution so you want to make it about your customers, not just about you. Need an example? Here’s my purpose:

“To make people feel understood. To help them understand themselves by working with them to first uncover their unique gifts and then support them in bringing those gifts to life. To cultivate courage and self-belief in my clients so that they can live authentic, creative and meaningful lives.”

Do you know your why? Care to share it below?

Kate James

runs coaching programs for creative startup businesses and she facilitates mindfulness workshops retreats in Melbourne, Bali and Byron Bay. Kate is the author of Believe in Yourself & Do What You Love and Be Mindful & Simplify Your Life.

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