Business Goals: Why Start with Why?


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Yesterday I met with someone who was interested in business coaching. When I started to talk to her about her business and to ask her what she wanted to achieve it was clear that although she had set some business growth targets there was no real clarity behind “Why” she wanted to achieve this. Rather than move on to other questions about her business I decided to push her on this area. What occurred next was a deep and significant discussion about how she had got to where she was. Through some questioning and reflecting she was able to set clear and significant personal goals for her. She also was able to use these to set business goals that were quantifiable and clear to understand and communicate.

Once we had established her “why” were able to move on to discuss her business plan, her marketing plan, her customer service requirement and her customer development requirements. These all seemed appropriate and relevant as a result of understanding her “why”. I am pleased to say that at the end of the meeting she agreed to become a coaching client. I look forward to working with her to achieve her personal goals through her business.

So, how is this relevant to you? I hear you ask. Well, how clear are you about your “why?”. I believe this incident underlines  the veracity of what Stephen Covey said in his book “The 7 habits of highly effective people”. To achieve success you must start with the end in mind. You will no doubt have heard the analogy about driving.  You would not set off in your car unless you had set the destination in your sat-nav or having consulted the map to confirm how to get to the selected destination. However, I believe there is another more important question that should also be asked and that is – why am I going to that destination. This is the “why” and is deeper than the “where”. This is the same that should apply to your business – clarifying your “why” will inform “where” you take it.

Business Goals: Starting with Why in Terms of Customer Communication

Simon Sinek talks about starting with why in terms of customer communication. This is the external “why” and enable you to link it, through the how you do things to the what you do and create better marketing messages to be used to acquire and develop customers. This external “why” is a fundamental requirement for achieving business success. However, the internal “why” should be clarified and understood to ensure your commitment to achieving success remains high and to create the drive and direction for your business. This is exactly why it is so important for setting your business  goals.

There are two types of goals. There are “away-from goals”, those created by dissatisfaction at where you are now – or desperation. There are also “towards goals”, those created by a vision of where you want to be – or inspiration. History shows that where “away-from goals” are the main reason why one does something there is likely to be a decrease in drive or enthusiasm towards the activities required to maintain improvement once initial gains or successes are made. This is because the situation has improved and so the goals are not so strong. This leads to entering the comfort zone. When in the comfort zone no long-term improvements are made. Usually short-term gains are followed by short-term losses and status quo is maintained, or a gradual decline over time is observed.

Business Goals: Set Clear “Towards Goals”

The only way to get out of, or to avoid entering, the comfort zone is to set clear, significant and relevant “towards goals”. These may be financial, material, experiential, emotional such as pride in achieving something. It also may be targeted towards others or a community rather than just yourself. Whatever form they take, this is your internal “why”. So, how well is your “internal” business goal understood and how well is your business aligned to achieving it?

If the answer to these questions are yes then you are in a good place to start working on the where, what, how and when questions that will build the business success that you are achieving and the odds of achieving that success will have improved through knowing the internal “why”.

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