Business Building Strategy: The most important question of all…

business-building-strategyWhen you’re building a business – there’s a lot of questions that need to be answered.  Dr. Jean Murray says there are 10,000 questions you’ll have to answer as you start your business.  While I never stopped to count them all – I think she’s definitely in the ball park with that estimate.

Some of those start up questions are easy – and when a question is easily answered it’s usually answered quickly.  Some questions are hard – and it takes time to discover the answer.

There is one word which can drive your business towards success more quickly than any other word.  While this word can stand alone as a question – when it’s part of larger question – it’s presence signals that the question at hand is one of the most important you’ll ask over the course of your business.

This powerful word is easy to say – and easy to spell.

This mystical magical word is the word – WHY.

Why ask why?

Why is a powerful question to answer as you build your business.  In Business Building Strategy: What will you do to get their money?, I talk about a common business problem – those idiot customers and their stupid requests.  (If you don’t know me or haven’t spoken with me – you might not know that my tongue is FIRMLY in my cheek when I wrote the previous sentence.)  Often – when you’re tempted to “label” a customer as “stupid” or an “idiot” – it’s often because you don’t understand thy “why” which is driving the customer’s behavior.

For example,  “Those idiot customers keep calling to get directions to our store, even though we have a map on our web site!”

Ask “why” and suddenly the view of the situation changes.  Asking why helps to move the view of  from a customer problem – to a web site problem.

When you apply the “why word” to the questions raised – the questions suddenly take on an elevated level of importance.  You can even add this mystical magical word to a simple statement to turn it into a thought provoking important business building question.

Take this “complaint” – “My [insert advertising media here] is driving visitors to my web site – but it isn’t generating any new business.”  Adding the word “why”takes a complaint and turns it into an essential business building question.

Sometimes  answering this question is easy.  Sometimes it’s hard – but the reason it’s hard is not that it’s like solving a complex math problem hard – but rather it’s a “we’re going to have to do something that’s outside of our comfort zone.”

“Because I said so” is a LOUSY answer when someone -anyone – asks you why.   If you’re tempted to give that answer – take a moment to think.  Often, that answer is often a sign that you just aren’t willing to dig in and answer the real question – “why?”

Asking why often leads to discovering business problems which lie outside of your comfort zone.  For that reason alone – knowing the answer to “why” is essential.  The “why” can help you take that first scary step through the Looking Glass – which is known in MBA speak as “thinking outside of the box”.


  1. We get so busy that we forget to stop and analyze WHY things are happening time and time again. This is a good reminder to stop and think beyond the initial reaction and problem solve.

  2. Good Point, Kathy. Asking “Why” often gives some interesting (and sometimes scary) answers. I think it’s important to constantly reassess and ask this important and simple question time and again.
    .-= Amelia Vargo´s last blog ..Caffeine launches after Christmas – How will this affect your SEO? =-.

  3. Frank – asking why is really just another “healthy” habit – like exercising. I know – UGH! Another “have to” that really gets easier the more you do it!

    Amelia – you’re so right – sometimes the answers to “why” can be scary but I agree – it’s worth the effort.

  4. Kathy — this is a really good post. Why? Because it reminds us to go deeper in our questioning to learn more about whatever the situation is.

    I know this is a bit off the subject, but I also loved your use of “mystical magical word.” It’s sort of rolls off the tongue. For some reason, it makes think of the Wizard of Oz when they’re all walking up the path singing with munchkins:~)
    .-= Sara´s last blog ..The Journey Begins: Part One =-.

  5. Thanks Sara.