Start with What

In September 2009 Simon Sinek gave his famous TED talk Start with Why and it became the third most popular TED talk at all time.

I watched this video in 2013 after I read the Steve Jobs autobiography and when I was making my first steps in entrepreneurship. The concept was great, the idea was superb and I started to start with Why every of my crazy business ideas.

Making the world a better place, we believe in great design, we believe in XYZ. Everybody is tired of this shit.

The concept of Start with Why is great and I have read both Simon books and they are also great, but this thing is not applicable to small businesses and startups.

The last thing a new business needs is to start with Why. Back in the days when I talked about Why I was making 0$ a day.

When I made 1000$ per day for the first time in my life I was starting with What. A what so clear that even a child can understand me. A what which made my customers understand what I do for under a second.

This thing is powerfull. Nobody cares why you do something. Nobody cares about you. People care about their own problems and people buy when you have clear What and you solve their problem.

When I made 1000$ per day for the first time in my life my Why was: “I just like doing it”. Pretty boring right, but this should always be your Why. Otherwise you are lying and you are fake. If you want world peace and to save the children in Guatemala you either have some internal problem or you need people approval so bad that you are lying to yourself.

This is the cold hard truth. Human beings are selfish and we have selfish genes. Everything we do is to to preserve our genes. This is why we make kids, build companies and leave legacies. If you say something other you are lying to you and everybody else.

We buy Cola-Cola, because it has a lot of sugar and tastes good. We buy Apple, because their phones and laptops are actually good.

We use Windows, because we want to play games and everybody else uses it. It’s not magic, it’s not some Why which makes us do this.

Seeing all the Coca-Cola commercials about love, kissing and all other shit, I still think that even if they don’t do any commercials they will still be better than Pepsi, because Coca-Cola tastes better.

They just don’t know what to do with so much money and why not make pointless commercials. The Apple story is a little bit different, but their product was always better than the others.

After all of this I just want to tell some things about why new companies should start with What. Maybe when I make a billion dollar company I will talk other things, but the first several couple thousand of dollars are harder from adding million to a billion.

Clear What is Hard to make

It’s actually really hard to explain your business in one sentence. Try to explain some complicated software and you will get me. For example in programming we have tons of APIs we use and the explanation of them is always 2 pages.

I explain my software Iris the following way:

“Iris makes monitors healthy for the eyes.”

And people get it. And they buy it. And they don’t care how and why. They just want something to double click and it to work. When they feel the difference they tell friends and this is how marketing works.

Coca-Cola what is something like the following:

“We make drink which tastes good.”

And people get it. And they buy it. And they don’t care how and why. They just want something to drink. When it tastes really good they tell friends and this is how marketing works.

Clear What Sells

Nobody will give you their money, because you believe in something. Nobody cares what you believe in. People give money for something they need. And when you tell me:

“You have this problem and I have this solution for you and I actually have this problem”

I will tell you:

“Nice take my money.”

The other way is when I have some problem and some friend tells me about your solution and I will pay you. None of my friends will tell me:

“This company believes in great design. You should buy their new laptop.”

No, they will tell me:

“This laptop is super thin and it works super fast, the battery is good, and it’s really well designed. If you have some cash to spend buy it.”

Of course nobody will buy just for this and branding comes in hand, but the idea is simple and true. The only reason Apple doesn’t have monopoly is because they sell expensive. They sell expensive, because they are brand and this is how brands work.

Clear What Promotes

When I was starting Iris, I was like:

“We believe in making a world without glasses.”

Or some other shit like this. I don’t remember, because I don’t start with Why anymore. After a year of 0 users and 0$ revenue like this I started to be like:

“I make software which will make your eyes hurt less when you sit in front of the PC”

“Nice, but how?”

“Well you know, it reduces blue light and monitor flicker and it works automatically, you just need to double click it.”

“Nice, I will try it.”

And they actually try it. And when they see how cool it is they buy it. Then when some of their friends is complaining about eye pain, they tell them:

“Meh, I had this problem, but now I use Iris.”

“WTF is this?”

“Well it makes monitors healthy for the eyes, it reduces blue light and screen flicker and works automatically. Remind me to send you a link.”

“Nice, I will try it.”

And he goes to Google and finds my software even if he don’t have the link. Likes it, buys it, tells friends.

And this is how promotion and marketing should work. And this is how companies succeed and how you make successful business.

What do you need?

In brief to succeed you don’t need Why.

You need clear What, great product, several years of time to build the great product and to learn the skills to build this great product.

You also need to actually solve some problem, because nobody will buy pointless product.