Discover your why


“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”

– Fredrich Nietzsche

Learning Objectives

In this chapter, the concept of identifying your WHY and its importance is investigated.

This chapter will help you:

  • Explain the importance of understanding your WHY.
  • Describe what the WHY is for yourself and your company.

The first step to any business is your idea. A vision of how to do things better or differently, something that may have never been done or meet a need that is not being met.

Your idea is your first step. This could mean starting a business or could entail expanding an existing venture.

Very few entrepreneurs starting their first business are business people. In Michael Gerber’s book the E myth contractor, he talks about “technicians suffering from an entrepreneurial seizure”. Just because you are good at your trade does not mean that you know how to run a business.

50% of all small businesses fail in their first 5 years. Most of the rest will fail in the next 5.


Most of those who start have no idea how to build a business. They spent at least 4 years going through an apprenticeship or university to become proficient in their trade. Why do they think that starting a business should be any different?

What is your Why?

What separates the businesses that succeed from the ones that fail?  It is what Simon Sinek calls finding out your “why”.  The why helps determine what sets you apart, what makes you different than any other business.  A true understanding of your why will help you determine if the work you are doing (and the business you are building) will actually matter, to both you and the world.

The Big Three questions

1. What does your business do, or what do you want your business to do?

This one is an easy question.  You can be as generic as you want:

  • I want to start an electrical company.

  • I want to start an accounting firm.

  • I am building an app

2.  How do you plan to do it?

This question gets a little deeper.  Often times this is called the Unique selling proposition (USP).  This is what you do that sets your company apart from others in your industry.  Some examples of USP:

  • Show up on time
  • Always come on budget
  • Uniforms and friendly service

3.  Why are you doing it?

This question will often get the answer, “I want to make money”.  Making money is not an answer to why are you doing it, making money is the result of the what and the how.  What is meant by why requires answering questions such as:

  • What excites you?
  • What is your passion?
  • What is your belief about how the world should operate?

Discovering what your why is, is not an easy task.  It will take some time and some reflection.  Discovering your WHY is discovering your purpose and how it affects EVERYTHING that you do. To help you determine your WHY,  you can use the worksheet below:

Click on the image for a PDF.

After you have spent some time reflecting on your WHY, it is time to write down your mission statement.  Writing out a mission statement can be an intimidating task but it doesn’t have to be.  Now that you have spent some time reflecting on what your WHY is, it is just a matter of writing it out.


I believe in quality over quantity.  I would rather make sure that something is done exceptionally well, to the best of my ability, than to pump out project after project.  With this in mind, everything that I work on will be exceptional.  This value will permeate everything that I do, including my electrical contracting service company.


  1. Watch the Simon Sinek video.
  2. Print out the worksheet and find a quiet place and fill in the prompts.  Take some time and reflect on your answers.

Remember, most people know what they do, they could even tell you how you do it.  It is those who have a good understanding of why they are doing it that sets them apart.  It is what makes you (or your company) exceptional.  It is your purpose, your belief system, your reason for being.


  1. TEDx Talks. (2009, September 28). Start with why- how great leaders inspire action|Simon Sinek. []. Retrieved from


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Entrepreneurial Leadership for the Trades Copyright © by Chad Flinn and Tim Carson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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