By Chris Olsen
Since launching My Founder Story in 2018, I’ve led hundreds of women business owners in clarifying their WHY. The process involves exploring your upbringing, values, personality and strengths, along with key events and people, to determine what influenced the path you took and the person you are today. Reflecting on this information helps you pinpoint what motivates you and matters most to you. But it requires some work and an investment in time.
Inevitably, at the end of a workshop, as I give participants their homework, someone will say, “If I tell you about my business, will you tell me my WHY?” And I get it. Time is money for business owners. We may know we’re fueled by purpose. We may care about getting clear on our WHY. We may have a desire to share it with the world. But wouldn’t it be great if someone could save us some time, wave a magic wand, and simply tell us our WHY?
Spoiler alert: There is no magic wand. But I’ve created a few tools that might be the next best thing. It starts with developing a Tiny WHY Statement™ (TWS), which is part of the WHY Detector™ process outlined in my book, “Whyography: Building a Brand Fueled by Purpose.” A TWS is typically five to seven words. To develop your TWS, simply identify your power verb (PV) and your ideal customer (IC).
PV + IC = TWS
Your PV is a powerful descriptor that communicates action. It’s a single word that says a whole lot about you and your business. It helps to illustrate the impact you’re making (or hope to make) in the lives of others, and it provides a bit of insight about your personal strengths and values. Here’s a list of 20 of my favorite PVs:
- Advocates (for)
- Invests (in)
If you’re not clear on your IC, complete this exercise. What’s most important is narrowing down your audience to a specific person who benefits most from the product or service your business offers. The person whose problem you are truly solving. Resist the urge to cast a wide net and go with something like “people” or “individuals.”
Some examples of ICs include:
- Professional women
- Female founders
- Busy moms
- Underrepresented children
- Organic farmers
Now combine the two with your business name. Here are some examples of Tiny WHY Statements (business name + PV + IC):
- (Business name) mentors professional women.
- (Business name) empowers female founders.
- (Business name) supports busy moms.
- (Business name) invests in underrepresented children.
- (Business name) promotes organic farmers.
How can you be sure your Tiny WHY Statement clearly articulates your WHY? Asking yourself these questions can help:
- Does this statement reflect my personal values?
- Does this statement illustrate the personal strengths I bring to the table?
- Does this statement articulate a problem my business solves?
- Does this statement speak to something bigger than me?
Creating your TWS is a shortcut to articulating your WHY, but it’s just one part of the Whyography process. If you’re ready to dig into what motivates and matters most to you and to develop your purpose-driven brand story, check out My Founder Story’s virtual workshops and online programs.
About the author: Chris Olsen is a radio veteran turned communications consultant, educator and author of “Whyography: Building a Brand Fueled by Purpose”. Through her work as a consultant partnering with startups, Chris realized her WHY—to support women-owned businesses in confidently communicating their purpose and impact, setting them up for entrepreneurial success. She created My Founder Story as a platform for doing so.