Why are you in business? Crystallising your core goals

07 April 2017

Setting up your own start-up business is a big deal. It's a life-changing experience that takes plenty of dedication, courage and gritty determination to make your business idea work. But have you stopped to really pin down the goals of the business?

Having put so much hard graft in, you want to be sure that your venture is a success, right? But if you don’t understand the forces that drove you to go into business, how are you going to make sure you achieve your goals?

In a nutshell, if you can understand what drove you to start a company in the first place, it will REALLY help you to focus on the right strategy for the business.

So, how do you crystallise your core goals?

Why am I in business?

Many sole traders, start-up owners and aspirational entrepreneurs find themselves at the wheel of a business through circumstance.

  • Maybe you were made redundant and thought now was the time to try going it alone.
  • Maybe you inherited the family business and found yourself MD almost by accident.
  • Maybe you had a great business idea and are fighting tooth and nail to bring it to market.
  • Maybe you spotted a potentially lucrative way to monetise an existing service in a new way – and you’re all about disrupting that traditional market.
  • Maybe you’ve had enough of working for ‘the man’, always wanted to work for yourself, and have seen the perfect opportunity to set up on your own.

But there’s one really important question that many business owners fail to ask themselves right from the very start:

‘Why am I in business?’

What are your underlying reasons for wanting to run this enterprise? And have you actually formalised these goals in any way?

Ask yourself 'What's my business FOR?' and define your core goals

What’s your business for?

Now this may seem like a dumb question to many people. A business is for making money, isn’t it? It’s an organised and systematic way to make profit from a product or service.

Yes. And no.

The process of making money is just that; a process. It’s not the fundamental end goal, though. Money, as we all know, is a means to an end – it’s the capital that allows us to do other things. The ‘for’ lies in the goals, values and vision of you, the business owner.

For example, Virgin is a massively successful global brand, but it’s core objective isn’t just to make profit. Wound up in the culture, brand and vision of Virgin is an end goal of providing the funding that allows Sir Richard Branson to live a life that meets his expectations.

So, if you take Virgin as your example, the business exists:

  • To allow Branson to own his own holiday island, have rest and relaxation in his own holiday home and to have the privacy he craves, away from the media.
  • To allow Branson and his friends to go on thrill-seeking journeys, by ground-breaking hot air balloon for example, and to have the adventures he craves as a person.
  • To provide the funds necessary to research, design and build the world’s first re-usable, commercial space plane.
  • To give large amounts of the business profits to charitable causes, social enterprise and to ‘give something back’ to the community.
  • And, of course, originally Virgin existed to release music by new recording artists (there might be no Virgin at all if Mike Oldfield’s ‘Tubular Bells’ hadn’t become a global hit).

To pin down your business goals, you need to ask the right questions

Ask yourself the right questions

Now, your business may not end up on the scale of Virgin (but then again it may… don’t set yourself any boundaries). But the fundamental questions you need to ask yourself are the same.

And the answers you get will help you to understand exactly WHY you’re running the business in the first place:

  • Is profit my key motivation?
  • Are you in it for the excitement?
  • Are you a craftsperson who just loves the work they do?
  • Do you love taking start-ups and making them grow and prosper?
  • Do you like being in charge of a team who share your vision?
  • Is there a charitable, social or philanthropic motivation?
  • Is it about work/life balance? Is your intention to only work half the year?
  • Do you need the flexibility of being your own boss? If so, is that about time, or control?

Answer the right questions and you’ll know the key drivers behind your business model

Crystallise your business model

So, you’ve sat down. You’ve had a think. And you’ve answered the important questions about what you feel your business is FOR.

It can be quite an illuminating process, revealing truths about yourself and the company that you may never have realised.

  • You may find you’re a profit-driven entrepreneur who loves the challenge of making a start-up into a success story, or a nationally recognised brand name.
  • You may find that you just love working with your customers and the pleasure comes from delivering a service to your local community.
  • You may find that this is a lifestyle business that you’re running. A stable, profitable enterprise that keeps you busy but exists to fund your holidays, your love of sailing and your children’s school fees.

But whatever kind of business owner you find you are, you’ve done something critical for the future success of your company – you’ve crystallised WHY you’re in business.

And this process of crystallising your goals and drivers down into a workable business models is key to how we provide business advice at FD Works.

Next time, we’ll be asking another much overlooked question, ‘Is my business roadworthy?’ and showing you the main ways to kick the tyres on your business model to make sure it’s ready for the next stage of the start-up journey.

Get a better handle on your business

We’ve hopefully made you step back and start thinking about the core objectives behind your business – and with any luck, you now have a few answers too!

But why stop there, eh?

Here to help

Here at FD Works our team of accountants and business advisors take a different approach to finance. We work with businesses across Bristol, Bath and the South West, offering hands-on finance support and FD-level strategic advice.

Let's define your core goals

We'd love to help you pin down what your business is for

Get in touch