Don’t Be Fuzzy about Your Why

Have you ever had one of those days when ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” We all have. I was out with a few buddies recently for one of those Cocktail and Cigar nights that now were replaced with V2 cigs fulfill with vapor juice online, and one of them asked that question. He was feeling especially unappreciated and was questioning just about everything about his business.

Our discussion really got me wondering how business owners and managers maintain their enthusiasm after they’ve been at it for several years. How do they motivate their team when they’ve lost their own passion?

A longtime believer in goal-setting, I decided to do some personal evaluation to consider what motivates me and the Brand Acceleration team. The approach was to take a hard look at everything and everyone and ask “Why?”

Why are we in business?
Businesses are started for a number of reasons. Some people just want to be their own boss, some dislike their present situation, and some think they’re going to get rich. Some start a company to create their own job; a very dumb move. Successful entrepreneurs start a business because they have a passion and talent for their chosen profession, and because they want to be the best at what they do. Then there are those businesses which are started by people who have a passion for providing outstanding customer service.

At Brand Acceleration, our approach was to go to an offsite location where we could do some serious self evaluation and long-term corporate visioning. We asked ourselves questions such as, “What is our purpose?”, “What do we want the company to look like in three, five, or ten years?”, and “What excites us?”

Why do you do what you do?
Several years ago, in a previous career, I owned a company that owned and managed conferences, trade shows, and promotional events. We also designed and produced very high-end trade show exhibits and provided effectiveness training for booth workers. When I first started the company, I was on the front line, managing every detail and doing much of the work. I negotiated venue contracts, handle all event promotions, and even designed exhibits. I loved every minute of it. We specialized in events for the agricultural industry and enjoyed huge success and rapid growth. We worked with clients such as John Deere, Monsanto, Dow AgroSciences, and numerous other well known ag companies.

As the company grew, so did my duties as the company owner. Rather than personally managing the events, I was now dealing with mundane tasks such as employee issues, insurance, taxes, and other motivation killers. Any business owner or manager will tell you that you need to have a plan in place to make the transition from startup to an established, functioning organization. You’ll need to surround yourself with talented people who will handle the work you just don’t want to do. Doing so will free you up to do what you love and to focus on growing your business. As selfish as it sounds, one of your very important responsibilities is to maintain your personal satisfaction and happiness. The alternative is unthinkable. An unhappy boss leads to a miserable workplace and a company headed for trouble.

Why do employees and vendors stay or leave?
Isn’t it interesting how many people are working in a job or industry that is completely different than they had envisioned for themselves while in college? How about you? Are you doing what you had planned? Are you doing what you want to do? Many are working in jobs not because they love them but out of necessity. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult for them to be happy and motivated in jobs they’d really rather not be in. We look for employees and vendors who are living their dream, doing what they love, and motivated to do great work. Bad attitudes and overinflated egos just don’t fit into our structure.

One of our clients recently asked each of their employees to write a job description and personal evaluation. They were also asked to make a list of their duties and whether they like or dislike each, and why. The exercise helped to identify satisfaction or dissatisfaction points and to reassign some tasks to people who were better suited. The result is a happier, more cohesive, and motivated team. What an outstanding idea!

Why do customers stay or go?
Customers stay or go for many reasons. Of course, if you provide outstanding delivery of products or services, customers are much more likely to love you and refer you to others. What sometimes happens is that companies become complacent and take their clients for granted. The result is that customers begin feeling unloved and leave.

Working in the economic development industry, we know that most communities place a major emphasis on keeping existing employers happily in place. Recently, I chatted with a company manager who told me that he hadn’t spoken to his county economic developer in years, but when the company announced plans to cut staff, the guy showed up to ask what could be done to save the jobs. Too little – too late.

At Brand Acceleration, we work to be much more than just a vendor to our clients. We serve as part of their organization, providing genuine and knowledgeable counsel. Our attitude is that their business is our business. The relationship deepens and they become more than just clients. They’re like family. Without such connections, clients are much more likely to see you as replaceable. Not a good thing.

A serious evaluation may be in order for you, your team, and your overall organization. It may be time for owners, managers, employees, or even community elected officials to ask the question, Why? It may be the most important thing you can do for your future.

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