Marketing Bites: What are You For?

The best business advice or insights often come from unusual sources. One of mine came from my son when he was just three years old.

We were in the car driving to his grandparents and he asked me this question and it has stayed with me ever since: Mammy: What are you for?

So ask yourself : What are you for?

I fumbled, I stumbled, I stuttered and eventually I agonisingly answered ‘I’m here Sean to take care of you and make sure that you are happy and healthy.’

He seemed fairly satisfied with that and then progressed to:

  • what is that building for (pointing to it)
  • this town for etc etc
  • And so it went on.

It was exhausting so I decided to turn the tables and ask him the same question — So what are you for Sean?. And without batting an eyelid he answered with great clarity and conviction:

‘I’m for Digging!’

Now that’s purpose! You just have to laugh and I did. But the question remained with me long afterwards and it really sums it all up for anything we do. If we can answer that question in every aspect of our lives we can remain conscious of every decision, every path we take, every opportunity we choose. That is a road that can lead to success as you define it.

Even in business this must be your starting point. It’s the reason for the business — the purpose of the business. It’s why you’re doing all this. And it allows the people who work with you and for you to buy into the business and support it at each stage. But you need to dig deep to really answer that question.

And it’s a cop out to say ‘I want to make lots of money’.

That will never be a compass point that will sustain you when times are tough and decisions even harder. So spend a little time and answer the question for yourself and for your businesss

  • What are you for?
  • What is the reason you are in business beyond making money.

This is not a nice to have or a fluffy exercise. Every great company or leader can answer this question from Steve Jobs to Martin Luther King Jr. It is their compass point that they don’t stray from. And every business needs a compass point.

Simon Sinek, author of ‘Start with Why‘ explored this very question. In this book he asks the question ‘why are some people and organisations more inventive, pioneering and successful than others and why are they able to repeat their success again and again.

The answer he discovered was that consistently these great businesses focused not necessarily on what they did by WHY they did it. If you want to cut to the chase check out Simon Sinek’s TED Talk.

So today think back on the profound truth that always comes from those three year olds in our lives and answer the question for yourself, for your business and for those around you.

If you’d like to share I’d love to hear what your purpose is. It’s good to get it out so feel free to share it here.

And check out this interesting New York based community called United Purpose. It’s a community of doers and thinkers coming together for good. Nice idea. I hope it spreads.

Thank you for reading.

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Finola Howard is a brand and marketing strategist who is passionate about the impact that great marketing can have on business success. She sees marketing in a broader more strategic sense and works with businesses and entrepreneurs who want to grow. Click here to get Finola’s stories sent direct to your inbox

Originally published at on December 5, 2014.

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