If you’re not familiar with Simon Sinek, you should drop what you’re doing to watch his famous TED Talk: “How Great Leaders Inspire Action.”
In his talk, he explores what made people like Martin Luther King Jr. and the Wright Brothers become the leaders they were.
And his infamous TED Talk is just a sample of his work. Sinek has dedicated his career to studying leaders of all fields to find patterns in their successes and to make that knowledge accessible to everyone who aspires to become a champion in their field.
Here are just a few slices of Sinek’s wisdom that will hopefully inspire you to innovate, improve and change your business to achieve better results.
“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”
Many companies are focused on selling the features and benefits of their products. In reality, what motivates people the most is your mission and vision of what you’re hoping to achieve with your business.
Apple isn’t about selling personal computers; it’s about ‘thinking different’ and challenging the status quo. Airbnb isn’t about short-term rentals. It’s about connecting people so that you can belong anywhere.
“Great companies don’t hire skilled people and motivate them; they hire already motivated people and inspire them.”
An ideal candidate is someone with an excellent attitude and a broad skill set. But in reality, you don’t always find these people, and you have to choose between skills and attitude.
And that’s where most companies get it wrong. They go for the skill. A leader, however, realizes a skill is something you can teach, but attitude won’t change.
In reality, a positive attitude and the right culture fit is much, much harder to find. Those are the people you want on your team.
“Let us all be the leaders we wish we had.”
This one is self-explanatory, isn’t it? As a small business owner, your team looks to you for guidance. Make sure you’re setting an example you’re proud of.
“Henry Ford summed it up best. ‘If I had asked people what they wanted,’ he said, ‘they would have said a faster horse.”
It’s fair to say this actually isn’t Simon Sinek’s quote but Henry Ford’s. Too many companies try to determine their product direction or create marketing messages based strictly on customer input.
With that mindset, you’ll never become a leader. When asked, most customers will only offer you a variation of something they already know.
In his book Nail It Then Scale It, Stanford Professor Nathan Furr states that “entrepreneurs innovate, customers validate.”
Ask customers about their pain points but come up with a solution yourself. Don’t ask them what to do. Execute, get feedback, listen, and adjust.
“When you compete against everyone else, no one wants to help you. But when you compete against yourself, everyone wants to help you.”
When you follow and react to your competition, you’re effectively a follower. Jeff Bezos of Amazon had a more solid advice topic: ‘If we can keep our competitors focused on us while we stay focused on our customer, effectively we’ll turn out alright.’
In other words, if you’re focused on your mission and your ‘why,’ you’re an innovator. If you’re truly innovating, you don’t have to worry about what your competitors do.
“The goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.”
In other words, if you’ll try to please everybody, you’ll please nobody. Great companies know exactly who their ideal buyer is and focus on doing business with them.
If you know who your ideal customers are, you’ll get much further than merely targeting a faceless mainstream audience.
Airbnb founder Brian Chesky said, ‘It’s better to have 1000 customers love you than millions kind of like you.”
If you can find people who will love what you have to offer, they will effectively become an advocate of your brand. It’s not surprising that companies like Uber or Airbnb got over 50% of their early growth solely from referrals.
“Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.”
Your employees are your greatest asset. They’re the soul of your small business, and their attitudes translate into the product, customer service, and marketing messages.
As the popular saying goes, ‘If you don’t love yourself, who else is going to?’ Employees are the company, and if your small business doesn’t love itself, no one else will either.
“If you can clearly articulate the dream or the goal, start.”
Your customers will love you for your mission and your values. But you must be able to effectively communicate them first.