Does your business have a purposeYou’ve probably been asked what you do many times. By now, you’ve no doubt developed a pretty nifty answer to it. But what about the question “why do you do it?” You might wonder why that matters, but the point is that every business – no matter how small – needs a “why” as well as a “what”.

“You don’t just need an idea for a business – you need a purpose as well. What does your business stand for? Why does it exist? It’s got to have some core values or principles, as well as a good idea, to be successful,” Jon Pickering co-founder and Managing Director of Block Solutions told us. Right from the start, what set Block apart from other firms in its market were its people and their expertise, he says. While its rivals were focused on simply reselling IT systems, Block would seek to solve its customers’ problems.

Why does your business need a “why”? Because it’s very unlikely you operate in a market of one. It’s much more probable that you’re in a market in which a number of rivals offer very similar products or services. So where what you do can be pretty easily replicated, how you do it is what really sets you apart from the pack.

Also, knowing how and why your firm is different will give it a strong identity that helps to bind your team together through thick and thin. That identity can be better than any HR handbook, because your staff will understand almost instinctively “that is (or isn’t) how we do things here”.

This identity can be quite intangible, but don’t doubt its power. Many companies that lose their way have often lost their “why” also. They’ve done something to either dilute or undermine their identity to the extent that they no longer really know who they are or why they exist.

This identity is what marketing people would call your ‘brand’. It’s how your customers recognise you, and, in turn, how they identify with you. A successful brand is important, because, through it, consumers know what a company stands for and what they can expect from it.