For Entrepreneurs, “Why” Always Comes Before “What”

Let’s build a FaceBook application”

“We need an iPhone App.”

“We are hiring a new intern to manage our Twitter feed.”

Do these declarative statements sound familiar to you? If you are in tech, in retail, or even just IN BUSINESS these days, you are likely to either be saying it yourself, or will hear it from somebody nearby.

This happened at my company recently. The statement was about FaceBook, and how it was time to revamp and expand it. The discussion progressed for some time before I interjected a simple (and necessary) question.


I think the question took the room by surprise-as everybody was already on board with the idea of WHAT was to be done. The question of “WHY?” had not been specifically addressed.

I suggest to you that as a rule of thumb when you are pondering the “WHAT?”s ┬áin your business, you should step back and make sure that the “WHY?” is covered. Covered well, and crystal clear to everybody involved in the process.

Knowing WHY defines the WHAT.

Try this on for size:

“We are expanding our presence on FaceBook becauseour customer base expects it, because our brand reputation is based on the sense of our customers that we are progressive with technology, and because we need a platform to explore deeper relationships with our customers.”

I like this because it is clear, and enumerates a series of specific intentions that will guide the shape, timing, and scale of investment reasonable in executing the “WHAT”.

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Kevin Ready

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