Why did you start your company? It seems like a simple question, but it’s an important one. In the long days of entrepreneurship, it’s important to remember your “why.” The reason you get up each day and the reason you can’t not do it.
It could be to bring a product to market, to fulfill a missing piece of a niche industry or to help an underprivileged population. Whatever it is, entrepreneurship won’t always be easy, so it’s important to get back to that moment you told yourself, “I could do that.”
The Emotional Cycle of Entrepreneurship
I’m sure we’ve all seen by now this oh-so-accurate and relatable image:
In the craziness of starting a company, bringing a product or service to market, and managing employees and paperwork, it’s easy to feel all of these emotions in on day. Or one hour. In these moments, it’s critical to tell yourself, “remember why you started.”
I saw this quote earlier in the year (and I can’t remember where) and I immediately put it everywhere: on my mirror, as my desktop wallpaper, and as my phone lock screen. What can I say, I’m definitely a “words of affirmation” person.
When entrepreneurship gets hard—which it will, have no doubt—your “why” needs to be your focus.
- Your why is what got you started.
- Your why is what fueled naming your company.
- Your why is what got you through those many IRS forms.
- Your why is what drives you at 5 a.m. on Mondays and 1 a.m. on Fridays.
A Community of “Whys”
One of my favorite things about entrepreneurship is that it’s truly a community. There are people who are in the same place as you, and those who are further along and can share some insights. I asked a good friend of mine who’s a few years ahead of me in this endeavor, Mikhail, what his “why” is, and oh did he deliver.
“Gratitude and perspective… [I’m] insanely blessed for whatever talent I have and insanely blessed to not have to work as like a toilet bowl cleaner. And because of those blessings I feel like it’s my responsibility to help other people.
And I truly believe real entrepreneurship is finding a way to build a business, not just freelance to get a paycheck and if you build the business with the right heart, you can help so many people… That’s really the only goal I have. Is to give to AS MANY people I can as possible. Whether it’s 7twelve or my freelance stuff or our podcast, it’s all about giving opportunities, time, an ear, attention.” [Emphasis added]
Every entrepreneur who’s in this for the right reasons will have a story like this. They’re motivating, challenging and intriguing, and I love hearing them.
(Shameless plug: Our podcast Year One is all about being giving entrepreneurs like Mikhail talks about above.)
Reevaluating Your “Why” as Circumstances Change
I realized recently that I hadn’t reevaluated my why since my company “failed”. Why do I sit down with clients and help them share their story? Why do I manage their social media accounts?
But then I consider this: My “why” with my old company is the same “why” now, but with a different identity. We were focused on a different niche than I am now, but it’s still the same. I needed to take the time to reevaluate where I wanted to go.
I want to help people and I love it, though in a way is doesn’t seem like that’s enough of a “why.” Maybe because it’s too simple? Or is it? I’m still working through these thoughts and what it means as just me, Hannah Moyer, not as the face of a company with a business partner and a team.
When something as life-changing as failure happens, it’s easy to want to run in the other direction. And I was tempted. But then I realized there’s nothing else I want to be doing. And as a supervisor I respect very much once said, “if you can’t picture yourself doing anything else, you’re in the right place.”
It turns out I still love my “why”: helping companies share their stories.