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Start with ‘Who,’ Not ‘Why’: The Strategic Path to Building a Profitable Business

It’s all well and good to ask, “Why are we doing this?” But if you want to build a kick-ass business that lasts, you’ve got to start with “Who” is going to drive your success. It’s time to challenge the popular narrative spun by gurus like Simon Sinek about starting with ‘Why’. Sure, finding your purpose is important, but it’s not the starting line. Let’s contrast this with Jim Collins’ Hedgehog Concept, which brilliantly captures the essence of successful business strategies by overlapping three critical areas: 1) what you are deeply passionate about (your ‘Why’), 2) what you can be the best in the world at, and crucially, 3) what drives your economic engine.

The Missing Piece in the ‘Why’ Puzzle: The Economic Imperative
Jim Collins nails it when he talks about aligning passion with proficiency and profit. The third point—what best drives your economic engine—is often missing from the Golden Circle approach. Every business decision, at its core, must drive commercial success. This isn’t just fluff; it’s about ensuring your business can thrive and grow.

Finding Your ‘Who’: Building a Tribe That Belongs
Your business isn’t just a business. It’s a community—a tribe of individuals who are utterly jazzed about what you do. But this doesn’t start with the customer. It starts with your team. Do your employees feel like they’re exactly where they need to be? If they don’t, why would your customers feel any different? Get this right, and attracting new customers will follow naturally because the authentic satisfaction of your current customers and staff is infectious.

Rethink Your Marketing: It’s About Retention Before Attraction
Traditional marketing screams, “Look at me!” But the savvy approach is to ensure that once customers or employees glance your way, what they see makes them stay. Building a tribe isn’t about luring loads of new people; it’s about resonating profoundly with the right people. It’s crucial to ensure that your recruitment and marketing aren’t just bringing people through the door, but bringing the right people who will thrive and stay.

Zeroing In on Your Core Customer
This is where the rubber meets the road. Identify who among your customers makes you the most money—the ones who buy the fullest range of services or have the potential to do so. This isn’t about being all things to all people; it’s about being everything to the right people. Name this customer archetype—let’s say ‘Andrew’—and get into his head. What are his challenges? What does he value? What transformation is he seeking? Understand this, and you’ve unlocked the key to making him feel valued when he chooses you.

Creating a Niche: Own Your Segment
Imagine realising you only need a handful of the right customers to double your business. At Peer 1 Hosting, we focused on just 500 out of 13,400 customers to drive growth. By concentrating on these high-value relationships, every aspect of our business—from core values to customer interactions—was aligned to meet their specific needs. This isn’t about pleasing everyone; it’s about dazzling the right ones.

Leverage Net Promoter Score (NPS®) to Outshine Competitors
When you’re focused on your Core Customer, your NPS® should blow your competitors’ scores out of the water. This isn’t just about satisfaction; it’s about creating advocates who believe so deeply in what you do that they can’t help but bring others along. This is how you use customer feedback as a strategic weapon, not just a vanity metric.

Mining for Gold: Small Is Big
Think of your business like a gold mine. You’re not strip mining; you’re looking for the rich veins that yield the most return. Focus small, think big. It’s about dominating a niche by understanding and catering to the feelings and needs of a select group who see the world the way you do.

Profitable Purpose: Start with ‘Who’
Forget starting with ‘Why’. Begin with ‘Who’—who needs your business, who will champion your cause, and who will drive your economic engine. By doing this, you’ll discover a profitable purpose that’s not just fulfilling but financially rewarding. Remember, you’re in this to build something exceptional—and profitable!

So, take my advice. You don’t have to ignore Simon Sinek entirely. BUT start with ‘Who’, not ‘Why’. By doing this, you’ll find a profitable purpose that drives the economic engine of your business.  That’s how you build a business that not only loves what it does but also makes a damn good profit doing it.

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