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Business Owners: What Is Your ‘Why’?

If business owners aren’t completely committed to their why, it will be harder to sustain their organizations through inevitable up and downs.

Cox Guest Blogger

October 1, 2021

4 Min Read
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Being an entrepreneur and a small-business owner isn’t for everyone. It takes a certain type of person with the right combination of fortitude, an appetite for risk and an eye for opportunity. When you first went into business, you had your “why”–to make money, of course. But that alone isn’t enough to succeed.

There isn’t one right answer to why you are in business, and many times there is a combination of reasons. Maybe you want to create a business to pass on to your children, or you want to build it to sell it. Maybe you want to work on your own terms and your own schedule.

As a business owner, you can create your own goals and vision, which is often a strong why for entrepreneurs. You also don’t have anyone else to blame for failure. That’s why it’s important that you are always able to answer the question. If you aren’t completely committed to your why, it will be harder to sustain your business through its up and downs.

Your reason for being in business should be a North Star for all operations, from the people you hire to your processes and even to the marketing of your business. As I talked about in my previous article, a focus on your why is also important when you are planning your growth.

Depending on your answer, your priorities will be different.

Although in 1870 his “why” may not have started out with the intent of building a business to pass on to future generations, James Middleton Cox first went into business by purchasing a newspaper with a passion for serving his community. From there, he built an organization–known today as Cox Enterprises–by understanding how communication technology was changing. Cox created a legacy business that is still family run. Not all businesses will create a level of growth such that the Cox family continues to build, but small and midsize businesses are locally anchored and often depend on family to continue their legacy. If this is your why, there is critical planning to be done to accomplish a smooth succession when it’s time.  Click on Page 2 to continue reading…

If your why is to grow your business to a point where it is attractive to buyers, it’s important to have the focus of your business on a scalable product or service. If your business is too dependent on the owner(s)–for example, if customers ask for your product or service by your name–it becomes less attractive to buyers. Build a team of at least a couple of great salespeople to show your scalability. It is also easy for small-business owners to keep much of the “institutional knowledge” of their processes, customer preferences, etc., in their own head. But the process of documenting and systemizing this information creates value and increased opportunity to scale far beyond what is possible when owners continue to be the hub.

Understanding your why also helps you identify your ideal client–your “who.” I’ve often talked about the importance of understanding your customer. When you can make a connection between your why and your who, you create a connection that can make a difference in whether they choose you over a competitor. Are you in business because you have a passion for technology? Or, like James Middleton Cox, do you want to do good for your community?

Marketing, especially through social media, is a great way to deliver a why that may connect with your customers. People want to buy from companies they feel they know and trust, and your why is a link to your core principles. By getting your story out as part of your brand, you build a strong connection with your community and audience that will convey the feeling that you are going on a journey together to build your business.

 As a Senior Director at Cox Business, John Muscarella is responsible for the overall readiness strategy for the indirect business sales channels. His team has the primary responsibility to develop, implement ­and sell solutions utilizing the Cox Communications network throughout the country. John has more than 25 years of experience in business management, which includes sales and leadership positions with companies such as Polycom, Sprint and EDS.

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 This guest blog is part of a Channel Futures sponsorship.

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