A Note from Andi: What's Your Why?
- by Andi Whiskey
I sent this to someone asking about starting a business today, but thought I'd share it here, too.
Never start a business just to start a business. Always start a business to solve a problem or pursue one of your values. You HAVE to know your WHY before you start your business.
So A Bit About My Own Why
I got my first business license at 16, and have been a serial entrepreneur ever since. I had my first team at 20 and signed the lease for my first warehouse at 23 years old, had 2 warehouses in 2 states by 26 years old, and have always had at least 2 businesses at any given time, 3 currently.
And at every step of the way, I could have told you WHY I was doing what I was doing. None of my businesses started just because I wanted to own a business. ALL of them started because I LOVED what I was doing so much and had a mission I wanted to pursue, so I made a business out of it.
Like I said, I own a few businesses, because I'm just frankly passionate about business. So here are my own WHYs:
Why Whiskey, Ink, & Lace?
I saw the haircare industry as a mess full of lies and dishonest marketing and wanted to create a haircare brand for men that was just straight honest.
Why Whiskey Media?
I saw people hating having their headshots done, and I wanted to make that a better all around experience for everyone, from the minute they book their appointment to how they were greeted at the studio to how they felt during the session.
Why Twist & Tailor?
We saw spirits brands using just any marketing agency to market their spirits, and the agencies didn't understand the nuances of spirits, the structure of cocktail builds, or the regulations around alcohol, and we wanted to provide our expertise while elevating the industry to a higher standard.
At the end of the day, my WHY is to elevate the industries I enter by using proper processes and techniques to create better, elevated customer experiences.
I've used those as the driving values behind everything I do for every day. Without that, I wouldn't have been able to weather the storms, I wouldn't have stuck out the hard times, and I wouldn't have been able to surround myself with the amazing teams, customers, and clients that I've found in the process.
You Need a Why for You AND Your Business
We've had clients come through without a WHY.
With a couple of them, no matter how many marketing meetings we had, we could not narrow down a singular, focused "WHY" for them.
In the end, we had to part ways because we couldn't find any success for them in the marketplace. It's very hard to market a brand that doesn't have a WHY.
That's like going to battle without commander's intent. As soon as your soldiers come into contact with the enemy, plans have to change. Without commander's intent and clear direction, they won't know how to make decisions in the spur of the moment with the pressure around them.
Or even more relevant analogy...
It's like telling a customer they should buy your product, and when the customer asks, "Why?" you don't have an answer.
That seems like a silly, simple scenario. But as the marketing agency for clients who didn't have a driving passion and WHY behind their brand, we've run into that many times.
When we have to take that question back to the client, the client flounders and gives us a different answer every time, or comes up with some ambiguous response that only confuses the customer.
It's so important to have your "why" figured out long before a customer ever has to ask you.
You Have to Share Your Why
Another no brainer, but it is shocking how often this gets overlooked because founders are so in deep with their product, that they forget to share why they made it in the first place.
If you're not sure if this is relevant to your brand, I want you to go to your "About Us" page on your site right now. If you were a customer pulling up that page, would your customer understand your WHY?
So What Should You Do?
Everything starts with a WHY. Figure that out first.
Then scream it from every mountain top. Your why should be on your packaging, on your web site, in your social media posts, reflected in your imagery.
It doesn't have to always be there or always be overt. But it should be the common thread that pulls you, your brand, and your business all together, and holds it tight through every peak and valley.
So what's your why?
No seriously. What is it? Email me, tell me what it is. I don't care if you're currently brainstorming, thought-dumping, word vomiting, but tell me. Here's my email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Email me your why.