The Mission Matters

The reason your “why” determines where your business and marketing goes next

The Skinny

I grew up in Northeast Oregon on a wheat, mint, alfalfa, and pea farm. One day, my younger brother asked me what I thought about starting a chemical business in our little Grande Ronde Valley. When I asked him why he wanted to start the business he said, “there are only two retailers in the area and we could easily make money!” However, like many business owners, he was missing my question. As I dug deeper we got into a bigger discussion about what it means to have a mission, before firing up a business, let alone marketing one.

The Fat

People don’t buy what you sell; they buy why you sell it. You may have heard this on the famous Simon Sinek Ted Talk that has over 27 million views. That’s because it is the most vital part of marketing and selling a product or service.

As entrepreneurs and managers, the reason we are in business needs to be clear for us as we move forward in our day to day operations. That way, we know how to position our business, whether in marketing, production, or innovation, to fulfill our mission.

The first question to ask is “why am I in business?” If we do business strictly for ourselves, then the chances are that we will end up similar to the 95% of all businesses who close their doors after four years. Even if we have been doing business for generations, if we don’t know our “why” it will be hard to be passionate about getting up and going to work every day. An easy way to find out your “why” is to ask the folks who do business with you why they already are buying your product or service. If you are just starting out, make sure you have this nailed down before you launch your product.

Zappos started as an online shoe retailer with the best service of any category of retailer. They did it to serve others who were frustrated with the old way of shopping. Another company with a compelling “why” is Warby Parker. They said, “everyone has the right to see” and then set out to not only offer low-price designer glasses but also give a pair to someone in need for every pair sold. It’s clear these businesses have their “why,” now find yours.


For more great examples of mission statements like Warby Parker, click here