Don’t tell what you do, but why

Entrepreneurs usually tell everyone what they do, and how they do it, but that is not what you should be telling people. Tell them why you do what you do.

Visualize this image: a startup entrepreneur, surrounded by a bunch of people at a networking event. He is excited, talking fast, gesticulating a lot. He is passionate about his startup, explaining how the product works. Lots of technical details and bragging about the number of visitors on his website. The others nod, some of them look a bit dazed. When someone asks them afterwards ‘what did that guy do’, they’ll mumble something like ‘some kind of online platform’.

Ouch. That’s not the message the entrepreneur wanted to get across. So what went wrong? The problem is that the entrepreneur was only talking about what his product is about, and how it works. This is what most companies promote. After all, that is what they should be selling, right? Well, not just that. According to Simon Sinek, author and motivational speaker, the big question is: what is your belief? Why have you developed your product, why do you get out of bed in the morning, and why should anybody care? ’People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it’, according to Sinek.

Focus on your added value: why people need your product and what problem you solve. Are you offering a whole new way for people to communicate with their loved ones, so you make their lives easier or more fun? What you believe inspires people most. After all, Martin Luther King said ‘I have a dream’, not ‘I have a plan’.

This is not just important for your sales pitch or marketing of your company, but for almost everything you do. It makes you a better leader if you ask people to work for you because they believe what you believe, instead of working for you because they can do the job. Sinek: ‘Then they’ll work for you with blood, sweat and tears.’

See more of Simon Sinek in this TED video:

posted by Karin Husslage

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