An Open Letter to Solopreneurs: Start With Why
Updated: Oct 19
Start with why.
Let it live on the landing page of your website. If you’re ready to grow your team, begin each interview process by sharing it. Plaster it on the front cover of the employee handbook. Commence staff meetings and trainings with it as the intention. Let it live and breathe in the workplace culture. Your ‘Why’ is why the people you hire fall in love with your company. In business, we call your Why, a company’s Purpose Statement — although I assure you it’s hardly just a statement. Think of it as the heartbeat of your organization. It gave life to something that was once an idea. An idea you gave birth to. It keeps you focused. It provides clear intention for your team. And when you nail it, customer loyalty follows. It is a declaration stating exactly why you exist. Purpose is the very soul of your business; the reason for your existence.
One of my personal inspirations, Simon Sinek, author of bestseller, Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, writes “Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.” (As a side note: If you don’t have this book in your core library, it’s a must-read. Or for 18 minutes of inspiration, watch his TEDTalk. Share it at your next team meeting, or at with your entrepreneurial tribe. You’ll thank me.)
When I google most companies, I find information on who is in the team, where they can be found, what services or products they offer, how much their services cost, etc. And that’s all good. However, rarely is the WHY conspicuous – for some, I had to search different resources. For others, my search proved futile. And yet the WHY is
uber-critical, perhaps, the most fundamental of all the W’s. It is the very foundation for what you do and how you may go about doing it. It serves as your company’s north star. More and more people are choosing to work for organizations that impact the world – socially and environmentally. Some of my favorite global giants armed with
conscientious agendas are Patagonia, Zappos, TOMS, and Facebook, to name a few. I believe that to truly create impact, you need to know why you do what you do — and so do your people, both customer and employee.
If I googled your company, is your Why readily visible? Better yet, if I asked your team, would they be able to tell me?
Let me be clear – the Purpose Statement is not your company’s Vision, Mission, or Core Values. They are often confused for one another, so let’s take a quick moment to distinguish each:
• Vision Statement - states the where the organization is headed in the future.
• Mission Statement - declares what the tangible deliverables are
• The Core Values - are the how, the core beliefs and behaviors of a company.
Each are integral to success. And you and your team should be able to speak on all of them, starting with Why.
What if you remember why you started but are having trouble writing it succinctly? In a strategic planning article in the Harvard Business Review, author Graham Kenny advises, “If you’re crafting a purpose statement, my advice is this: To inspire your staff to do
good work for you, find a way to express the organization’s impact on the lives of customers, clients, students, patients — whomever you’re trying to serve. Make them feel it.” There is little doubt that companies who serve a strong purpose make us feel warm and fuzzy inside. In fact, they are so clear on their WHY that the Purpose Statement says very little, if anything at all, of what services or products they offer.
Or what if your WHY is evolving and you’re not quite sure how to to pinpoint what it is? Well, take a deep breath and a deeper exhale. In fact, take a break from your P&L statement, quarterly strategy reviews, or the sleuth of emails that await you. I am here to support you in clearing the fog so you can build foundation for your business.
To get started, we will go about it in a fun and creative manner – step by step.
Step 1: Block off 4hrs from your schedule.
Step 2: Move your body so you can get into maximum creativity. For me, it
looks like a run in the trails listening to a podcast.
Step 3: Set yourself up in a creative space. Lots of light. Good energy.
Step 4: Place large post-its to capture your thoughts.
Step 5: Ask yourself – What makes me come alive? Begin to write.
Step 6: Save your notes and revisit them 24hrs later.
My Why is simple: to support you in building people-centric, purpose-driven companies so that you and your people fall in love with the work and impact the world.
In the meantime, you fearless solopreneurs, keep creating new. Continue to hire great people who align with your Why. Forge ahead with personal and professional development for you and your people. Take big risk – because with it comes big rewards. Above all, remember, always start with why. Because when you lose your why,
you lose your way.
Toni Hernandez, a Gallup Global Certified Strengths Coach and a graduate of the Women's Entrepreneurship and Leadership program at Cornell University, is deeply passionate about human connection. She's inspired by real conversations, soulful visionaries, and conscious purpose-driven leadership. Connect with Toni on Instagram or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.