Why the heck did I start my own business, anyway?

“What do you need to start a business? Three simple things: Know your product better than anyone, know your customer, and have a burning desire to succeed.” – Dave Thomas

Why the heck did I start my own business, anyway?

By Andrea Novakowski

Remember the energy you felt at the beginning of September? Maybe you still have it. Or maybe you’re already feeling overloaded by everything that’s being thrown at you.

If you don’t connect to something bigger than the day-to-day details, it’s easy to become overwhelmed, frustrated, and de-energized, no matter how good your intentions were at the beginning. One way to overcome those feelings is to remember why you started your business in the first place.

According to Kylie Jane Wakefield of LegalZoom, the top reasons people start their own businesses are: to be their own boss, to build something from scratch, to make more money, and to make a difference.

Are any of these reasons yours? Or do you have a different reason altogether?

Regardless of why you started your own business, when the going gets tough and the day-to-day challenges bog you down, it’s important to stay in touch with the bigger why. I guarantee that if you do this, it will change your attitude, your energy, and your results.

Recently, I had dinner with a former client who told me his son had just gotten a tattoo that read “PMA.” When he asked his son what this stood for, the son replied “Positive Mental Attitude.” The tattoo is on his left wrist, underneath his watchband. He sees it each morning as he gets ready for work, and he’s reminded of his resolution intermittently throughout the day when his watch slides back on his arm.

My former client admitted that he doesn’t generally like tattoos. But he was pleasantly surprised and impressed by his son’s. The young man is starting a new profession that requires customer service and lots of contact with the public. The tattoo helps him remember that an upbeat and can-do approach will serve both him and his clients.

How can you remind yourself of the reason you started your business and what’s most important to you? Whether it’s your values, your goals, or your next big project, it’s crucial to put yourself in the right frame of mind to tackle each day by remembering why you’re doing what you’re doing.

Here are some tools that can help keep you connected to your why so you can live it throughout your day.

  • Public declarations: A tattoo is one way to let others know what you care about, but if you don’t want to get inked, you also can use a blog, a website, or marketing materials to state your intentions and keep yourself accountable.
  • Physical reminders: A meaningful piece of jewelry, a picture on your desk, or a piece of art or sculpture can symbolize your commitment.
  • Technology: Evernote, Google Tasks, and other apps can help keep you on track if you tend to get distracted and lose your momentum.
  • Daily rituals: Morning reading, meditation, prayer, breathing, and journaling can all train you to focus your mind at the start of each day, so you can keep your goals in sight.

And now here’s a simple 4-step process to help you remember your why. You can use this each morning, each evening, and even during the day when things get hectic.

  1. Become present. Pay attention to what’s happening at this moment.
  1. Use one of the above tools to remind you of what’s important to you.
  1. Ask yourself: what’s your intention for the day? What do you want to make happen?
  1. Decide how you want to show up. Identify the key behaviors you want to exhibit.

You can do this process in your head; you can carry an index card listing the steps; or you can make your vision public by sharing your why with others. If you’re the leader of a team, you can state your intention at the start of meetings and allow others to share their own whys. This could deepen the commitment for all of you.

Whatever tools or techniques you choose, remembering why you started your business each and every day will keep you focused, enthusiastic, and energized to make your dreams come to life.


Do you have a process that keeps you connected to your why? Please share it below, so we can learn from each other!