The term 'your why' sucks (and a new way to think of it)

The term ‘your why’ is so vague, even making a start is tough. Here’s a new approach to making it even more meaningful and impactful by looking at your experiences and values.
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“Start with your why.” You’ve heard it several times. It’s probably the number one piece of advice in the online business sphere. And I get it. The essence of what they’re communicating is valuable and should definitely form a part of your thinking or consideration when drawing up a strategy, story and message (and design!) for your brand.

But, the term ‘your why’ sucks. And I think we can do better to help small online business owners take agency over such a meaningful component of their business.

So, let’s do that.

What does it even mean?

Your why is supposed to mean the reason that you do what you do.

However it’s too broad and quite vague, and makes little space for people who are doing what they’re doing out of necessity to earn an income or support themselves or their families.

When you’re met with the question “What’s your why?” it can be difficult to know where to even start unpacking your thoughts. Ending with some profound business mantra is a stretch at best.

I often used to ask my clients why they felt it was worth pushing through, even on the days they felt like burning their business to the ground. But, honestly, eve that is just surface level and doesn’t give enough guidance on what this small and mighty piece of brand strategy can do for you and your business.

Let’s make it better

The big why in your business is probably an overlap of your experience and values, and how they’ve informed each other.

So it makes sense for us to start there, yeah?

Try this instead

I’m not going to give you a step-by-step breakdown of how you should approach this because I don’t think it’s something best arrived at with a formula. I will, however, walk you through key things to consider, journal around or talk about with your business bff. These should get you thinking about why what you do and the results you specialise in are important to you.

What your business is born out of.

Your experience

Think about your experiences in life.

Your values

Think about what you value as a human.

  • What do you believe in?
  • What do you know to be true?
  • What feels important to how you make decisions?
  • What guides your actions?
  • What kind of future do you want for yourself?
  • What kind of future do you want for your people?
  • How are your services, products and benefits tied into that future?

Integrate them

Think about how those experiences and values overlap.  

  • What was fundamental in refining your product or service?
  • What was fundamental in choosing who you wanted to work with?
  • What was fundamental in determining your processes, schedules and deliverables?
  • What was fundamental in  developing your benefits?

Understanding your why

The results from the last 4 bullet points are going to help you understand why what you do and the results you specialise in are important to you. And that is your ‘why’.

How you choose to arrange them into a phrase, paragraph or statement is up to you. Whether you share them publicly or keep it all to yourself is too.

But this is your story. The story your business is born out of. The strengths, experiences and passion that underwrites what you, who you do it for and how you do it differently.

The added bonus of this approach is that you have also developed loads of brand intimacy and understand the values that guide your business a lot better.

And those are integral parts to brand messaging that connects with the right people!

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Want a workbook for your next coworking sesh?

I’ve turned this into a workbook you can use to develop these ideas and thoughts into something more real and tangible. Ideal for your next coworking session or a quiet cosy evening with a glass of wine!


The term 'your why' sucks (and a new way to think of it)
The term 'your why' sucks (and a new way to think of it)
The term 'your why' sucks (and a new way to think of it)
The term 'your why' sucks (and a new way to think of it)

Hi, I’m the author, Lorin

I love supporting you bring confidence, clarity and growth to a business already filled with so much meaning and love.

If you’re filled with ambition and purpose and looking for branding and business support that helps you achieve your vision, you’re in the right place.

I’m a brand and website designer with an approach centred on intimacy, so you’ll see that word a lot here.

I’m also a red wine enthusiast, amateur vegetable gardener, mom to an adventurous 5 year old, whippet lover with a thing for ginger cats and Cape Town local who loves the ocean.

Read more about me ⟶
Lorin Galloway branding and websites for small businesses with heartLorin Galloway strategist and designer for small business owners