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How asking ‘why?’ drives us

Friday, 27 September 2013 | By Matt Murphy

Before we start any journey, there must be a motivation. A motivation to achieve a result. The result could be as simple as driving to a destination. It is possible that people can start a journey unconsciously, but at some point in the journey they will become conscious of achieving a desired outcome.


Starting a business is just like any other journey. Like any journey, the people that focus right from the beginning are the ones who will actually make it to the destination and will get there fast.


So how do we obtain focus on the journey?


There is a simple one-word answer to this, and the answer is ‘why’.


‘Why’ is my favourite word in the English language. It disturbs us, it provides clarity, it focuses us and offers motivation.


So why do people go into business in the first place? What drives people to go into business for themselves? Based on interviewing hundreds of business owners over the years as an adviser, it is the dream. The dream of a better life. But what does a better life mean? Often business owners will question this during the journey, posing questions like: is the dream attainable? Will it actually provide a better life?


People will start businesses with the following objectives:


  • Financial security and independence
  • Satisfying a creative entrepreneurial flair
  • Work-life Balance
  • Pursuit of excellence
  • Control over destiny
  • Creation of a legacy


Naturally we ask and answer questions before we embark on any task. The trick is to ask yourself the right questions. So before you start the journey, sit down and have a think about these four steps and the questions posed. The more we can predict the future, the greater chance we have for success.


Step one: The why


Develop your personal and business why. The why to help you keep the momentum in hard times. Have your why close to you at all times to remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing.

Step two: The law of economics


A fundamental law of economics is demand versus supply. Is there a market for the product or service I want to sell not only today but in the future? The past is not always an accurate predictor of the future, so ensure that what you sell will be relevant or adapted for the future markets. Will it survive and/or embrace technology and globalisation?


Step three: Does the business idea have scale?


The size of a business may be limited to the size of the market, the type of product/service that is offered or the ability or the desire of the business owner. The trick is to understanding the possible barriers to the size as early as possible to prevent possible frustration. As there are many possible barriers, prediction of the largest one may be the key to assess the size of the business. Business size can be a determining factor in whether the result is a sufficient return on the investment of time and money.


Step four: Mindset, do you have what it takes?


Starting and running a business is not for the faint-hearted. It takes courage and effort to build a business and realise the dream. Most business owners will fight the stress and pressure demons at some point in their business career. As it is hard to predict when, make sure that you have strategies in place to overcome the stress and pressure that small business throws up to ensure that you remain positively realistic.