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I’ve taken dozens of online courses and every single one, whether it’s for making online courses or writing a book, has a section on finding your “Why”. They want you to be clear on the reason you are undertaking this new adventure.
Defining your reason for starting an online business will give you purpose and clarity, especially those times you will go through challenges and want to quit. And those will come, sometimes sooner rather than later.
The first thing that always comes to mind when I’m asked this question is “money”. However, most experts will tell you that money is not a good enough reason to get you through the tough times.You should have a higher purpose than money. While I understand the reasoning behind this, I cannot fully support it.
As humans we follow Maslow’s Pyramid of needs and the first two levels contain “basic needs” which include shelter, food and safety. If you are in a place in your life where you want to start an online business so that you can cover your basic needs, how are you supposed to be thinking “how can I help the world?”. While there are people that are able to have those types of concerns I think you’d have to be pretty enlightened to be in that position while struggling to pay the bills, and not everyone is.
Just so you know, there is no shame in living at the bottom of the pyramid. I’ve been doing it for the past 30 years only going up in the pyramid for short periods of time. Eventually things will stabilize in your life and you start feeling a desire for more.
Finding your why
So how do we find this elusive “why”? You set some time aside for YOU and do some introspection. You will be asking yourself some basic questions about who you are and what you want in life so that you can come up with that second why (money being first) and delight and inspire people at gatherings when they ask why you are running a side hustle when it’s so much work.
Questions to find your “why”
Here are some of the questions you can ask yourself to find your “why”. Try to ask them focusing on your desire for starting an online business.
Who are you as a person?
Examples: I am kind, I am patient, I’m a dog lover, I enjoy helping others, I dislike possessive people, I’m a mother, sister, husband, friend
What are your priorities?
Examples: putting food on the table, paying the rent on time, making sure you have savings for emergencies, proving to yourself you can succeed
What are your top values?
Examples (try to enumerate them in order of importance): Health, family, education, spirituality, financial security
What rules do you have for succeeding?
Examples: I will be successful if… I make x dollars a month, I have a college degree, I have no more debt, I make more money than my friends, I own a yatch
Be aware that some of the rules you have so you can feel successful can seem irrational, but we start adding these prerequisites to our happiness during the time we grow up.
What dreams do you have for the future?
Examples: I want to be a bestselling author, I want to be a recognized expert in my field, I want to have a million dollars in the bank, I want a garage full of unique cars/motorcycles
You can go wild here with your imagination. Sometimes when things are tough you might not even be able to muster up any dreams at all especially if you are depressed. I lost all desire and creativity with one of my depressive episodes and all I could do was survive day by day. Took me about two years for any kind of spark to appear in my life.
What do you want out of life?
Examples: I want to build a business empire, I want to mentor others in business, I want to have enough wealth that I can live a lavish lifestyle, I want to prove to others that I can be successful.
What are some benefits you will receive from starting an online business?
Examples: Increased income, will gain expertise in running my own business, recognition in my field
What benefits will you bring your customers with your online business?
Examples: give them value, help them reach their goals, help them solve their problems, help increase their revenue
How will your industry be improved when your business is running?
This is a high level question because it’s about what you will contribute to your peers if you start your business.
Examples: Improve the processes the industry uses, convince peers to open their mind to new technologies
By filling the form below you can get a nice worksheet where you can write down the answers to all of these questions. Or if you rather just get a piece of printer paper and a pen and go for it.
Readjusting your why as your life changes
As time goes by you need to be flexible with your “why”. Things change, new people come and go from your life and some surprises (both good and bad) will come into your life. It’s all a part of living.
I suggest you do this exercise at the beginning of each year to solidify your purpose and start the year strong.