The Power of Telling People Why

In this issue of Fundamental Insights, we look at a company that’s successful not only because people believe in their mission of doing good in the world, but because they’ve done such an outstanding job of communicating that mission. At Fundamental, we exist to empower entrepreneurs. And one of the most impactful things an entrepreneur can do is to rally around a clear mission.

Clearly communicating your company’s core values—why you do what you do, and why what you’re doing matters—can have overwhelmingly positive impacts on your success. Because the sooner and more effectively you show what your company is all about, the sooner you’ll connect with the customers and partners that will not only give you their business but champion you to others on your path to success.

Inc. Magazine recently ran a story titled 7 Powerful Reasons Why Doing Good Can Lead to Great Business. It profiles ResearchConnection, a searchable platform for finding thought-leaders in academia. “They spread knowledge and expertise to those who are seeking solutions to the world's biggest problems, and to students striving to become the next generation of great thinkers and doers,” Inc. explained. My argument is that ResearchConnection is successful not only because they meet a valuable need but also because they do a great job communicating why they do what they do.

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it,” said leadership expert and bestselling author Simon Sinek. “People want to do business with people who believe what they believe,” Sinek said in his TED talk, The Power of Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Action, which had nearly 27 million views. Sinek, an adjunct at the RAND Corporation who also teaches Strategic Communications at Columbia University, argues that inspired leaders and organizations communicate from the inside out, selling the ‘why,’ not the ‘what.’

His TED Talk references the Law of Diffusion of Innovation, which explains how, why, and at what rate new ideas and technology spread. In it, people are grouped into categories including innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. The law states that the adoption of an idea (in this case your business) usually reaches critical mass at the peak of early majority phase. In other words, the more effectively you communicate your mission—why you do what you do—the more rapidly devoted customers and referral sources will seek you out and tell their friends and colleagues about you. That critical mass equals business success.

And even though we’re talking about “doing good,” all of this advice is certainly relevant if your company’s core offering has more to do with business than benevolence. Any company can demonstrate its values through philanthropy—an outstanding way to show that you and your staff are willing to act on the values you espouse.

A few blogs back, in a post titled Exercising Philanthropy, we profiled WeViva, an Austin-based nonprofit that’s successfully expanding access to fitness classes for low-income residents. They’re doing so thanks in large part to their success building partnerships with local for-profit business. In that blog, we looked at several ways your company can benefit from giving back. Partnering with and supporting nonprofits like WeViva are great ways to illustrate your company’s values.

But first, you have to define your values clearly before you can communicate them and act on them. Take the time to write a mission statement that explains why you do what you do. Display it clearly somewhere people can see it on your website. And dig deep to write a short but sincere About Us statement that explains why you believe what you’re doing matters. Post it somewhere people can see it and don’t be shy about referring to it.

For some inspiration, let’s circle back to ResearchConnection and dig into how they’re success relates to how they articulate the good they’re doing in the world.  Here are three key ways their mission is making them successful, according to Inc.

1.         Magic happens when what you are doing resonates with people.  A great company understands, that it's not only about making a good product, but that your product and your mission have to speak to the hearts of users.  It's one thing to buy or sign-up, but it's another thing to join a movement and effect positive change.  People believe in what Research Connection is doing for academia, and it makes customers excited enough to spread the word.

2.         When your mission is strong, people trust you.  Trust begins when a company's mission is focused on making a brighter tomorrow. Research Connection has been finding allies and partnerships coming out of the woodwork since they took a more vocal stance on how and who they're helping.

3.         Knowing your values makes hard choices easier. Values are the core principles that guide how we lead our organizations. For many entrepreneurs, choosing the next step is often the hardest thing because so many options seem great when you're looking forward.  Being an organization that is committed to strong values makes navigation simpler, easier, and more effective.  

Contact us today to talk about how our insights and experience can empower your company’s fundamental mission with the right kind of growth capital at the right time. 

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