The Most Important Word In Entrepreneurship

You’ve probably heard it a thousand times, and that’s because it’s true: the most successful entrepreneurs are those who are driven by an overwhelming sense of purpose and fundamentally love what they do.

Unlike many workplace people, whether unmotivated employees in a rut or mundane bosses, who dread going to work each day, the stellar entrepreneur with all kinds of lofty goals practically leaps out of bed each morning and races to the office — excited to bring about a whole new world of innovation and service.

Consider this quote from the leadership guru and author Simon Sinek, whose books include Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. He said at a TED talk: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it” — and there you were thinking that entrepreneurs got into business to sell products and services!

Today, the internet has enabled an entire new generation of visionary businesspeople; in the last few years alone all kinds of startups have been launched that are transforming not only the way business is being done but how people use and pay for things. It’s this vision of these digital-economy firms that’s proving so disrupting to traditional companies in their sector who have long had it their way. Not any more.

From Facebook to accommodation site Airbnb, there are now many services that didn’t exist a little over a decade ago and are now worth tens of billions of dollars — up to US$340+ billion (November, 2016) in social media leader Facebook’s case.

All of them know the “why of it”, just why they’re in business and what they’re trying to achieve. That’s generally something that has not been done before, which is why Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his fellow captains of the internet industry have such strong purpose in developing new and innovative services that, for the most part, greatly enhance people’s lives.

So now, keeping in touch with friends and family members scattered around the globe couldn’t be easier: a few clicks and you can digitally keep up with everything that’s happening in their lives — a far more intimate glimpse than if Facebook was not around.

Then there’s Uber. Now, there’s no more waiting around for a taxi; a few taps of a smartphone screen and your cab is on its way, and Uber also lets you see in real-time where your ride is. There’s also no more hassle with high-priced hotels; you can rent any kind of fun place to stay with Airbnb — even an igloo or treehouse, if that kind of thing floats your boat.

Many years earlier, one English teenager was so driven to provide information, opinion and debate on raging issues in the 1960s (including the contentious Vietnam War) that he set up his own magazine. Richard Branson went on to found an array of successful companies, encompassing music, trains and aviation, under his Virgin brand, and turned himself into a multi-billionaire.

Today, at 64, his vision is still centred around the key areas of “why” and “purpose” as he expands his global empire into space tourism and satellite internet services.

So before you go into business, and make a real success of it, ask yourself one thing: “why?”