I’ll be honest. At times, I’ve wished people would stop banging on about knowing and sharing your ‘why’.
Every marketing consultant, business coach, even your copywriter (yep – I do it too) will tell you your ‘why’ is at the heart of your brand. After all, it helps you identify key elements of your business like:
- your point of difference;
- your vision and mission;
- your brand values;
- your brand identity;
- your ideal client; and, so much more.
But I have a confession to make. This July WhizBang Writing turned one, and I’ve only just discovered the true ‘why’ behind my business.
It seems I had a fake, or at least inaccurate, ‘why’ throughout my first year.
And for someone with authenticity as one of my brand values – this was an uncomfortable discovery.
Isn’t your ‘why’ meant to be joyful?
All year, every business owner I met seemed to roll out a joyful ‘why’ with ease:
- ‘I wanted to follow my passion.’
- ‘I started a family and wanted a business that let me have time with my kids.’
- ‘I escaped the corporate grind, so I could use my writing skills to help not-for-profits.’
I wanted a joyful one too, but I couldn’t find the damn thing. So, I opted for practical instead of joyful, and settled on:
‘I want to make small business owners sound as good as they are.’
And why not? It was true.
In a world of rapidly-shortening attention spans, it doesn’t take much to send a reader bouncing off your website or newsletter onto your competitor’s.
I’d seen a lot of fantastic businesses produce ineffective copy, poorly-written content or posts full of typos. It distressed me to see them undermine their professionalism, dilute their message and erode their expertise.
So, ‘Making you sound as good as you are’ seemed like a valid ‘why’ to me.
Looking for ‘why’ in all the wrong places
As I prepared to take my copywriting and content creation business into its second year, I decided to get some help.
I learnt pretty quickly that if you choose to work with a perceptive business coach, you won’t get away with fluff.
⭐️ They don’t hand out answers. But they do help you find them.
⭐️ They support you on your journey, but they keep you accountable.
⭐️ And, sometimes, their feedback makes you swear…
‘That’s not your ‘why’. That’s what you do as a copywriter or content creator – not why you do it.’
Much silent cursing later (sorry, Lanna Hill ❤️), I realised she was spot on. I had only scraped the surface and I needed to keep digging.
I sought out a kindly kinesiologist to help me work on my mindset. I was amazed at how quickly I had a breakthrough. (Thank you, Rachel Dhanjal❤️)
I found my ‘why’. It definitely wasn’t joyful.
It was hiding deep inside a dark, painful place and I had to drag it kicking and screaming into the light.
Trigger warning: If you find references to suicide or mental health upsetting, please skip forward.
Turning lemons into lemonade
In 1991, I married my Aussie boyfriend and high-tailed it out of England for a life of adventure under the Australian sun. Or so I thought…
We settled in the northern beaches of Cairns. Well, I did. My happy-ever-after may have been short-lived, but my love affair with Australia had only just begun.
When my brother Tim, and his wife moved from the UK to Perth, I left my tropical lifestyle behind and headed west to be near them.
By 2004, life was good. I was newly married and living in my own home for the first time. My husband and I had started a residential building business. He’d been a builder forever, and my skill set was perfect for managing the office. We hit the ground running.
The year before, Tim had been in a head-on trail bike smash that left him in intensive care, battered and broken. His future had looked bleak. But, he went on to astound us all with the speed of his recovery.
He’d always been a tough cookie – we’d wrestled and rumbled our way through childhood. But, in our teenage years, with our parents as the common enemy, the dynamic shifted, and we grew close.
We could still wind each other up, of course. But we always had each other’s backs in a crisis, and no one could make me howl with laughter like he could.
In life’s lottery, not everything happens for a reason
I still don’t know when his struggle began. He fought hard to conceal it from those of us who loved him, and I was flat out running the business. I didn’t realise his mental health was declining until a weird phone call between us unsettled me.
I popped round to see him and was shocked, and a little bit terrified, to find him in a highly-distressed state. After a tough 24-hours, he admitted himself into hospital where he was diagnosed with severe depression.
He spent six tumultuous weeks in a mental health ward then, suddenly, he was free to leave.
I was so relieved; if the hospital was releasing him, he must be on the mend. We could all relax – he’d soon be himself again.
The next day, he took his life…
I felt as if, in my relief, I’d loosened my grip on his hand for a moment and he’d slipped through my fingers into the abyss. I was beyond devastated.
My loss was laced with the legacy of suicide – guilt. But there was little time to grieve. People were waiting for their houses. I had to push on with the business and block out the rest.
It worked for a while. Then one afternoon my phone rang, and all I could do was look at it. Suddenly, the simplest task was insurmountable – my body refused to function.
My husband bundled me off to the doctor, and I began my own mental health marathon.
When disaster strikes – build something new from the wreckage
I was lucky. I received fantastic professional help and, although not cured, I was able to function again.
Our business continued to dominate our lives. We won awards. Our projects got bigger and bigger. Our achievements were featured in the media. To the outside world, things looked fabulous.
We finally hired an admin team, and I exited the business in 2011. Within a few months, I felt better than I had in years. I had my life back, and I wanted to make it count – for me – and for Tim.
Brimming with optimism, I began a creative writing degree. But I didn’t get very far.
Mid-way through semester one, my husband broke the news that our business was in trouble. Bankruptcy was imminent.
It was terrifying. We lost everything.
Or did we?
So many times, we’d prioritised the demands of our business and neglected the people we loved. And yet, here they all were, unwavering in their support.
We brushed off the shame and disappointment of our failed enterprise and started again.
I quit Uni, we moved into a cosy rental, and we both found jobs. I held onto my writing dreams – but I tweaked them a little.
I started a Professional Writing degree and graduated, with Distinction, in 2016. A year later, WhizBang Writing Solutions was launched.
Finding your ‘why’ keeps you focused on your ‘what’
So, is there a moral to this turbulent tale?
But it’s at the heart of why I started my business.
Because ‘Making you sound as good as you are’ is embedded in my much deeper desire to help other businesses succeed.
I want to use my skill set to help small business owners avoid some of the pitfalls that can derail success.
And I want to make sure they don’t sell themselves short when they communicate with potential or existing clients.
Of course, I love to write. But my ‘why’ is about making sure your hard work as a small business owner counts.
I want to help you:
- authentically share your business story and grow your authority, so people trust what you have to offer
- Give your business the best chance to connect with your audience by showing them that your solution is the one they need
All of which results in, making you sound as good as you are!
From dark days to bright beginnings
As I enter my second year with WhizBang Writing, I now understand the reasons people bang on about the significance of your ‘why’.
I’m much more certain about my business direction, my goals and how I can help my clients with their content writing.
And, with the clarity that comes from knowing and understanding my ‘why’, comes the acceptance that, periodically, it might morph into something different.
So, if you feel a little lost or your business is lacking direction, take another look at your ‘why’.
Put it under the microscope, see whether it’s changed and above all, make sure it’s the genuine article. If not – get digging.