Why do you exist?
I don’t mean “I help entrepreneurs create more value by using generic phrases.” I mean why do you exist.
What is your primary purpose for even being in business?
Mario might say something like “I exist to Save-a the Princess. I’ll burn-a down, jumpa on, and beat anyone who threatens my princess’s safety to death with a turtle shell-a.” He’s been saying it for over 30 years, he’ll probably say it for another 30 more.
The reason I bring this up is because no one is really talking about it. Sure you can read about Unique Selling Propositions, Brand Characters, and Ideal Customers all day long, but if you don’t know why you exist, your primary mission for being in business, you’re sunk.
What’s An Adventure If You Don’t Have a Princess to Save?
To go back to the Mario analogy, businesses who don’t know their mission become enthralled with the Fire Flowers, Super-Stars and Tanooki suits of the world. They’ll talk about how these are the best power-ups in all of world 1-7, and that if more players used them, they could be powerful too.
But, without the princess, what’s the point? Aren’t you destined to move from power-up to power-up until the badniks eventually team up on you and it’s Game Over: No Continues.
I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that more people -big names included- who are worried about the power-ups than there are people saving the princess.
Granted, there’s money to be made in the “talking about power-ups” business, but even so, if you don’t exist for those questing to save the princess, you’re doomed.
I think – and feel free to add your thoughts in the comments – that the problem stems from a few different scenarios.
- You started your online business based on what you know.
- You heard “blog first, sell later.” was the best way to go so you just went with it.
- (possibly the scariest) No matter how hard you try, you truly don’t know why you exist, and you’re bursting to justify your existence online.
If Any of These Scenarios Ring True…
I’d like to submit that you haven’t found your business mission because you’ve yet to throw yourself into something that’s totally outside your comfort zone.
Remember, Mario started as plumber. If at any point he said, “Imma plumber, you needa your pipes fixed, that’s-a one thing, but she’s not-a my princess. Senda me home.” It would have been a very boring game franchise.
For a real life example of mission finding by risk, look at Danny. He’s the Freddy Krueger of Blogging because in the beginning he risked rejection by emailing multiple bloggers with guest post requests, then buckled down and wrote when they all said yes.
I’ll bet you anything he was clear on what he was meant to do after it started working.
Unfortunately, I think the real problem is too many businesses are afraid to take the first step outside of their comfort zone. And if not the first step, then certainly those that come after it. Imagine how terrifying it must have been for Mario to learn that jumping on one mushroom means safety and eating another means your body grows three times its original size!? That revelation alone would be enough for most people to say “forget the princess!”
If that’s not you, you know your mission is simple, not because it’s save the princess, but because you know the princess wants to be saved. (some might argue the princess prefers being saved to being safe, but we’ll leave that for the psychology blogs 😉
It Comes From Your Customers
Going back to Danny, Write Like Freddy became one of Mirasee’s flagship products because that was the most in line with his readers personal mission.
Now this is very important to note – even though his guest posting spree originally had nothing to do with WLF – it was because he committed to a seemingly impossible action that he found his mission – And that’s what people wanted to know how to do the most.
For proof, just look at the most popular posts. The major themes link to building relationships, creating solid strategies, and dogged consistent execution. Reading Write Like Freddy’s curriculum, these all look like topics Danny covers pretty extensively.
For me, I discovered my mission by putting 95 hours a week into a video series about online marketing. But it wasn’t until my AdSense account got banned that I discovered what that mission actually was.
Originally, the goal was to make YouTube Partner to get 50% of ad revenue. In order to jump start the process, I purchased a few thousand views. Realizing that was a risky (not to mention dishonest), I stopped. Unbeknownst to me, someone on my team continued purchasing views and so the AdSense account was banned.
This was the best thing that could have happened though, because people still wanted to see the videos. So I stripped away the garbage and made our mission crystal clear; to mainstream online marketing by making it fun and easy to watch.
Seems simple enough now, but when the mission wasn’t clear, we were getting caught up in the power-ups (so to speak.) Turns out, the reason why people were tuning in in the first place was because they were understanding concepts that had challenged them in the past, and getting a good chuckle every now and then. Once we stopped worrying about direct monetization, delivering that experience was what mattered the most.
If You’re Struggling to Find Your Princess…
I think the only way to find your mission is to do the thing that scares the shit out of you.
Right now, I know there’s at least one idea floating around in your head you’ve been putting off. You know the one – you’ve been putting off for months, maybe even years, in favor of the safe bet. I think if you really want to find your mission, you have to do that thing, and you have to be loud about it.
Don’t just do it and hold it at arm’s length, really embrace the crap out of it. Let it be a part of who you are and show everyone else this is what you stand for. They won’t all support you, and they won’t all understand, but to those who do, they’ll be the ones that really help you shape your business mission.
I think the only way to understand your bsuiness mission is to take the risk then ride the wave. Danny did it by emailing a bunch of bloggers, I did it by purchasing views (and losing a revenue stream), Mario did it by eating mushrooms and jumping on turtle shells.
Maybe I’m wrong though. Maybe it is as easy as saying “This is my mission.” I’m not sure, what do you think? Is it possible to just make a declaration then run with it? Certainly this seems to be more comfortable, but is this the best way to get people behind you?
I know there are two different camps of thinking on this, and I’d really like to use this article to kick off the discussion. Do you have to take small business risks to understand what it is that you’re really meant to do? Or can you just state your business mission and move forward?
Leave a comment – I’m looking forward to seeing what you think! 😉