Why? Why? Why Are You In Business?

What is your mandate?

People can tell you what their company does, they can do that all night long. They can also tell how they do it and yes, they can tell you who they do it for. But they can seldom tell you why? Why do they do it? 

What is the purpose of the company? Why did it start? What is its purpose? And please don’t say that it is to make money because in the end that is the most self-incriminating admission you can make. Companies that are in it to make money will rise to  mediocrity at best.

All great companies have a “why?” All great companies were started with a mission in mind, with a mandate. 

Apple is great because it wants to change the world. That higher purpose is what makes it great. Even years ago, Steve Jobs wanted to make a “dent in the universe.” As he famously asked John Scully when he recruited him, ”John, do you want to sell sugared water all your life, or do you want to change the world?” And interestingly enough Scully should have kept selling sugared water because he certainly had no idea or passion to change the world.

When you think about your company, go back to the beginning. Why did you start the company? Sure, there are basic reasons like working for yourself, being independent and of course making some money. But if you look back to your very beginnings, the time when you left the security of a salaried job and benefits, and you took the risk. You went out on your own. You decided to fly without a net. What drove you? When you sat alone at night thinking about the future of your company, what was your vision? Did you aspire to make the best product ever made? Did you want to do something that no one had ever done before? Did you want to show the company you just left that you could do it better? That you had a better idea? A better plan? A new and improved system that would make the world better?

What were you dreaming about back then at the very beginning? What was your cause? Your mission? Your mandate? What did the dent you wanted to put in the world look like?

Fred Smith had a dream of getting packages from here to there in twenty-four hours or less. Pretty crazy right?

Elon Musk has had plenty of these dreams, and he does not care who thinks he’s nuts. He’s already produced more than anyone thought possible, and he is still going strong.

While we either scratched our heads in dismay or laughed them off in amusement. Jeff Bezos went through millions and millions of dollars before he made a red cent building the biggest online business in the world, even before we knew we would need it. And thank God it was there during the pandemic.

And Steve Jobs, well Steve Jobs led them all with his pocketful of miracles from a thousand songs in your pocket to the Mac to the I-Phone to I-Pads he not only changed the world, but he also invented the change. He not only wanted to change the world. He convinced us to follow up while he did it. And he invited us to be a part of it, which is why people will stand around the block for hours to get their hands  Apple’s next new thing!

Bill Gates not only created a great common computer language, he is now taking his money and making the world better by focusing on eradicating diseases all over the world. He is also focusing on education as well.

Marie Curie suffered sexism and ridicule while she upheld her mission of taking world health into the future by leaps and bounds.

Henry Ford changed the way we build cars.

Thomas Edison dedicated his life for the benefit of humankind

All in all these people were focused on the “Why” of what they were doing, not the how and the what. They wanted to make the world a better place and that is why today we know their names and most of us anyway know the contributions they made to humankind.

Now it’s your turn. What is your cause? What is the purpose of your company? Who are you trying to benefit? 

Without even knowing each one of you, I can guarantee that if you sit down and take a quiet moment to think back, you will remember the reason you started your business. And you will find the “why” your “why” of why you started the business and what your own plan was, to in your own way put a dent in the world. Look for it. I bet you can find it. And when you do, revisit that reason. Bring it back, tell your team about it and you’ll be giving your company a fresh start, a great fresh start. It’s only common sense,