As business owners, leaders or managers, our first job is clarity. If we at the top are not clear about this stuff, who else in the business can possibly be? 

Right now, our society is going through a transformational process of questioning our values, standards and priorities. We’re rethinking what and who matters. Much of it messy.  Some of it is scary!

So, while we’re in this questioning frame of mind, now might be a good time to explore some fundamental ‘why’ questions about your business. Below are my ‘8 WHYs’ that you need to be clear about in your business or department. Set aside a few quiet hours with some of the best minds and hearts in your business to think deeply and answer honestly these 8 questions? You’ll be amazed at how this exercise will bring new clarity, passion and purpose to your business or department.

  1. Why are we in business and why are we in this particular business? What’s our clear ‘purpose’? An 11-year survey of 207 companies showed that businesses committed to a clear purpose averaged 571% higher gains in earnings! How do we define financial and personal success?
  2. Why are we located where we are? Is it to optimize growth or lifestyle…or did it just happen and we’ve never questioned it? Are we operating in the right part of ‘town’?  Are we in the right city, the right state or province, the right country? If we have multiple locations, are any of them dragging us down, sucking cash or hurting our brand?     
  3. Why do we have the business model we have? Will it be relevant in tomorrow’s very different and increasingly competitive world? Is it relevant now? Or is it of historical interest only?  What new or different business model could replace us? 
  4. Why do our target customers buy what we sell? Take the time to carefully answer the questions below:

When our target customers are buying and using the products or services we sell:

a) what are they really trying to do?

b) what do they want or need to know?

c) how do they want to feel?

d) about how much do they expect to pay?

e) what combination of functional, emotional and financial value are they looking for? 

  1. Why should people buy it specifically from us? What’s our clear and compelling value and experience proposition that ‘grabs’ our target customers, clearly differentiates us from our competitors, makes us ‘famous’…and grows our bottom line? One of the biggest complaints in business today is that ‘there’s no such thing as customer loyalty anymore’. This is simply not true. The truth is that people are loyal to what’s best for them…or what they assume is best for them. So, our first job is to do the work to be what I call the clear ‘wise choice’ for our target customers.  Our second job is to communicate our compelling value story in everything we do, because there’s no point being ‘the best’ if we’re also the best kept secret.
  2. Why do we define our target market the way we do when technology allows us to reach and serve a much larger market, if we’re extraordinary…and if we choose?  How could we use technology to communicate with and serve a larger target market…or to serve our existing customers in more ways?
  3. For each process, policy or rule in our business, why do we do it that way? Is it working? Does it deliver compelling customer value, more engaged staff, a safer workplace, an environmentally responsible outcome, improved efficiency or profitability?   
  4. Why would top-performers want to work for us, rather than someone else? Are we a ‘talent magnet? If not, what needs fixing?

You’ll be amazed at the power of asking ‘WHY’.  If you have any questions about this introspective process, I’ll be delighted to chat with you.  You can email me at to set up an appointment.

Donald Cooper is an international management speaker and business coach. His blog is full of advice for business owners and leaders. Click here to visit his site. 

Source: Donald Cooper