For Inspirational Leaders, Focus On “Why” Is Everything

by Michael D. Hume, M.S.

Any professional entrepreneur knows that running a business is too hard to do without an overwhelming drive and motivation. Every single day, part of you wants to give up, to go back to your old trade-time-for-money job, to sell the equipment and move to another state. It seems like there are endless forces arrayed against you, and you are tempted to whisper doom to yourself all the time. But that voice in your brain grows softer with each day, week, and month of success in business, which only comes when you have a real “why” driving you.

When your sense of purpose is obvious, the business will work. If it isn’t, it won’t. It’s that simple. Does your staff see your passion for the business? Can your vendors and suppliers tell why you do what you do? Do your customers feel helped by your execution of your business’ mission?

Purpose and direction are critical in any business; and a business’ direction depends on the sense of purpose of the entrepreneur. So check yourself out: why do you do what you do?

I hear stories all the time about why people decide to get into business for themselves – you can read such stories in the local paper. Some stories are too weak to keep the entrepreneur going when times get tough… and when you hear or read those stories, expect within a year to see a story in the same paper about the demise of that business. For instance, “I want to make good money” is weak; “I want to help a lot of people” is better. “I can sell a lot of widgets in this community” is weaker than “There’s a desperate need for high-quality widgets in this community.” “I cut hair because I can, because I’ve been trained to do it” – that won’t get you through the storm of regulation, competition, taxation, economic conditions, etc. “I can’t sleep at night unless I’ve helped at least someone feel better about how they look” – that mission might just work.

I do what I do because I know there are people out there battling furiously against the winds of financial worry, and who are not prepared for the coming global economic storm. I feel like I’m standing on the steps of the “fraidy hole” shelter you see leading under the old farm houses, holding open the door against the stiff gusts of the coming tornado, screaming “Get in here! Come on! You can make it!” And when business gets tough, I remind myself that the storm won’t wait, and there are still people out there in the wind.

(I grew up mostly in Oklahoma, so maybe that’s the source of my personal imagery. Your results may vary.)

But the key thing to realize is that a business is in peril when its mission depends on what it could do for the entrepreneur. The strongest, most robust businesses are the ones founded by people who are driven by a mission to help OTHERS. Sure, there are lots of people who are completely unaware of this fact (for instance, when I worked in live theater, I was constantly appalled by the attitude of my fellow actors, many of whom seemed to feel the theater was in business purely to employ and amuse actors, as opposed to delighting audiences). But those people are not entrepreneurs. And you won’t be one, either, until you get clarity around a business mission that focuses on helping other people.

So think about your mission. Take time to refocus on your business’ purpose and direction. When you’re busy, it seems like you don’t have time for such “extra” work; but since the very foundation of your business’ success is its purpose, you don’t have time not to get it into clear focus. You don’t want to be just another in a long line of entrepreneurs who failed in business because they failed to figure out “why.”


 Michael Hume is a speaker, writer, and consultant specializing in helping people maximize their potential and enjoy inspiring lives. As part of his inspirational leadership mission, he coaches executives and leaders in growing their personal sense of well-being through wealth creation and management, along with personal vitality.Those with an entrepreneurial spirit who want to make money “one less thing to worry about” can learn more about working with Michael at wanting to jump-start their vitality can browse through the best (and most travel-friendly) nutraceuticals on the market at and his wife, Kathryn, divide their time between homes in California and Colorado. They are very proud of their offspring, who grew up to include a homemaker, a rock star, a service talent, and a television expert. Two grandchildren also warm their hearts! Visit Michael’s web site at
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