Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle: The What, The How and The Why

“People don’t buy what you do. They buy how you do it”

I watched an interesting talk by Simon Sinek on what makes certain companies or people achieve greatness. To explain his thesis, Sinek makes a very important distinction in defining what it takes to achieve entrepreneurial success: some people know “what” they do, some people know “how” they do it, but few people consider “why” they do it.

Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle theory

The “why” of a business venture, for Sinek, is not simply the act of making money; rather, it points more to a cause, vision or purpose.

He says most of us in our daily lives are pre-occupied by the “what” and the “how” – but are not driven by “the why.” I think Sinek’s correct – we spend much of our time just “getting work done” and don’t remind ourselves of “why” we even care to do it.

Sinek refers to the Wright Brothers, Martin Luther King and Apple Computer as having leaders that ask “why.” While these examples are humbling, I began to think about the purpose of my company, Firmex. What do we believe in? What is our cause?

To put it simply, we believe that the Internet has given software companies a tremendous distribution mechanism to provide niche technology globally, at little cost to both the developer and the end user. This revolution in technology development and distribution will change the world. We will be more productive and it will create prosperity as a result.

As a company, we challenge convention. For example, why do our competitors charge per virtual data room, or per page uploaded, or per gigabyte stored? It makes no sense in our new cloud computing paradigm, where storage is so cheap, it’s not material, and creating a deal room costs no money. Limiting how much our customers can utilize our product has its disadvantages. Clients would be less satisfied, less committed, and as a result we would have far fewer users and fewer referrals.

“How” our competition offers its services is based on a “financial printers” paradigm. The customer pays per page or per job. Then the sales rep gives the customer basketball tickets in return for costly services. But, we are not a printing company – we are a cloud-based software company and our “cause” is to develop and distribute mission critical software globally in a unique way.

While we faced some criticism for developing a business that “leaves money on the table” – we feel vindicated. We have experienced triple digit revenue growth year after year, which is now combined with the fact that 94% of our business comes from customers looking for us vs. us looking for customers.

View Simon Sinek’s speech – it should give you pause to think about your “why.”


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