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More Important Than Money: Understanding Why You Really Do What You Do

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What do super-successful entrepreneurs and small business owners all have in common?

It’s not experience.

It’s not extraordinary skills.

It’s not even a powerful drive.

Although all of these things can definitely help your business grow, you don’t necessarily need them for success. After all, no one is born with experience or skills, and plenty of successful people lack drive.

The one thing that does make a difference, though, is your “why.”

Why did you decide to become a business owner?

Why do you spend too many hours in front of your computer every week?

Why do you stay up too late and get up too early, just so you can work on growing your business?

The “why” is what ultimately drives us to success, but here’s the thing: it’s different for everyone. Your why is not my why, and my why is not your why. It’s a deeply personal choice that can have great meaning…or not.

For example, a survivor of domestic abuse might happily spend 60 or 70 hours each and every week mentoring other victims of abuse, or counseling couples on how to break the cycle. Her big why is a strong desire to prevent other women from suffering in the same way she did.

A mother of small children may be saddened at the thought of sending her kids to daycare just so she can go to work to (just about) pay for it. Her big why is a drive to spend as much time with her kids as she can, while still supporting her family.

I remember when I was struggling to juggle a full time supply teaching job with taking care of my three kids. Back then I was earning £150 a day. People would go “wow”, but my bank account would tell a different story after tax and bills, including childcare came out of my pay.

We would leave at the crack of dawn so that I could drop them off at daycare, so that I could go and teach other kids while I paid other people to look after mine. Then by the time I finished work, picked them up, took them home, prepared dinner and helped them with their homework, all I wanted to do was crawl into my bed. I was too tired for cuddles or to even sit and listen to how their day went. That broke my heart. My big why is the drive to spend as much time with my kids as I can while still supporting them.

A young, fresh out of school entrepreneur might resist taking the same path her parents took, working for a corporation for 40 years, only to retire and find themselves with barely enough to live on. Instead, she dreams of having the income (and the time) to see the world while she’s still young enough to enjoy it.

So what’s your big “why”? It might be the freedom to travel, the option to spend time with your family, the ability to take weeks off at a time to care for a sick family member, or even to earn enough money to support a charity that’s close to your heart.

Whatever it is, your “why” is the driving force behind every action you take. When you’re deciding whether or not to take on a new client, ask yourself if it’s aligned with your “why.” When you’re setting goals for the year, ask yourself if those goals are moving you closer or further from your big why. Thinking of branching out into a new business venture? Make sure it’s in alignment with your big why, and success is suddenly much more attainable.

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3 Comments

  • Reply Julie Syl Kalungi

    WHY, Why should I focus on WHY. Why cant I just be because I am? On a serious note knowing why you do what you do is essential to INSPIRED ACTION and knowing when you achieve it. Otherwise if you dont know where you are going, any road will get you there, which is nowhere!

    January 9, 2018 at 11:47 am
    • Reply Christiana

      Absolutely! And I love your sense of humour too.

      January 9, 2018 at 4:46 pm
  • Reply Rashdah Hameed

    My Why was I needed to finally do something for myself and help myself grow. After having struggled with one problem after another I wanted to prove that I could make something of myself. A business gives you the satisfaction that nothing else does!

    January 14, 2018 at 9:54 pm
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