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The power of why

 28 August 2020     Donald Cooper 

As business owners, leaders or managers our first job is clarity. I’ve been beating this drum for years, long before Simon Sinek wrote his excellent book Start with Why. 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 eight whys that you need to be clear about in your business. Set aside a few quiet hours with some of the best minds and hearts in your business to think deeply and answer honestly these eight questions. You’ll be amazed at how this exercise will bring new clarity, passion and purpose to your business.

Why are we in business and why are we in this particular business? What is 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? 

Note: For help in creating a clear purpose for your business, click here to download Biz Tool #B-2.    

Note: For help in defining success in your business and life, click here to download Biz Tool #A-8.

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 province, the right country? If we have multiple locations, are any of them dragging us down, sucking cash or hurting our brand?

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? 

Why do our target customers buy what we sell? Take the time to carefully answer the following questions about when our target customers are buying and using the products or services we sell: 

  1. what are they really trying to do?
  2. what do they want or need to know?
  3. how do they want to feel?
  4. about how much do they expect to pay?
  5. what combination of functional, emotional and financial value are they looking for?

 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 ‘there’s no such thing as customer loyalty anymore’. This is simply not true. It’s a lie! The truth is 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.

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?

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?

Why would top-performers want to work for us, rather than someone else? Are we a talent magnet? If not, what needs fixing? 

Note: For help in creating the kind of business that attracts and engages top performers, click here to download Biz Tool #B-19. 

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

Before I let you go, here are a few things that caught my attention recently:

According to McKinsey Research, opportunity and fairness are the two biggest predictors of employee satisfaction. So, honestly, how does your business rate in these two key factors?

I recently sent e-mail requests for help to the service department of two companies. It took three months and three e-mails to get a reply from one of these companies. I e-mailed the second company a couple of weeks ago and I’m still waiting for a reply. I think when folks e-mail or leave a phone message with a business, they expect to hear back within 24 hours – tops. What’s your commitment to reply promptly and are you delivering on it, every time?

Breaking news about the virtual Donald Cooper. Regardless of what else is going on in the world today, businesses still need to sell more, manage smarter and grow their bottom line. So, I’m now delivering my bottom-line insights on marketing, management and profitability online, through Zoom conferencing. Clients include businesses, associations and chambers of commerce. Many of these value-added programs include interactive follow-up sessions and ongoing one-on-one business coaching. For more information, simply email me at [email protected].

That’s it for this week. Stay safe. Live brilliantly and do at least three important or kind things each day!


Cocoon by Sealy
Sealy Canada
This HGO article was written by:
Donald Cooper
Donald Cooper

Donald Cooper has been both a world-class manufacturer and an award-winning retailer. Now, as a business speaker and coach he helps business owners and managers throughout the world to rethink, refocus and re-energize their business to create compelling customer value, clarity of purpose and long-term profitability.


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