December 22

What Is Your Why?

Tony Barrett

In an earlier article I discussed the 4 things you need to be a successful entrepreneur.

One of them was to have a strong ‘why’.

And it is so important that it deserves its own dedicated article.

What Exactly Is A ‘Why’?

We humans tend to do things for two core reasons.

To gain pleasure.

Or to avoid pain.

(Sometimes both.)

When the pleasure that we expect to gain, or the pain that we expect to avoid, is greater than the effort (or pain) that we expect to have to put in… that’s when we’re motivated to act.

Let’s look at an example.

Let’s say you’re offered $100 to go on national television and do 3 minutes of stand up comedy.

Some people would do that.

(Some may even do it for free… perhaps they fancy themselves as a comedian and the exposure may be just what they need to get their break)

But I’m betting most wouldn’t.

We’re not comedians, we don’t have a lot of jokes, and we’re certainly not going to embarrass ourselves on national television for 3 minutes for a measly $100.

In making that decision, we compare the pain of embarrassing ourselves on national television with the pleasure of receiving $100.

Notice also how the equation is different for every person…

For some people the embarrassment would be horrifying (apparently the only thing people fear more than death is public speaking... and then having to be funny on top of that...).

While for others it would be no problem… perhaps not embarrassing at all.

Similarly, for some people $100 is not much money, while for others it could make the difference between eating this week and not. If you’re in the latter camp, then you’re more likely to overcome the embarrassment and do it.

Now, what if the amount offered was $1,000? $100,000? $1 million?

Obviously a LOT more people would do it for a million dollars. Because we’ve ramped up the pleasure 10,000x.

Now, what if instead of being offered money we were told that the person we love most in the world - be it a spouse, child, parent, whatever - is being held hostage and unless we do the 3 minute comedy set they will be killed.

(Yes, yes, I know that is a bit far fetched, especially that any kidnapper would want you to do stand up comedy to release a hostage… but let’s run with it for the purposes of the example!)

I bet there are not many who would even think twice now.


Give me the microphone and let’s do this!

The pain of not doing it - losing a loved one - is much greater than the pain of being embarrassed on national television.

Relevance To Online Business

So what does all this have to do with starting an online business?

Well, when you start an online business, you presumably have a reason for doing it.

There must be some pleasure that you wish to gain, or some pain that you wish to avoid.

Maybe you hate your job and just want to do something different to earn money. So you’re avoiding the pain of your job and of not having any money.

Maybe you want more flexibility, so you can spend time with your family. So you want the pleasure of spending more time with your family (or to avoid the pain of NOT doing so).

Maybe you want to achieve financial freedom and live your life on your terms (this one is me).


Me living life on my terms... except I'm not a woman...
and I hate getting sand in the keyboard... but close enough!!

I’m aiming for the pleasure of having enough money to live the life I want to lead, without the pain of having to go to the office every day and work 50+ hours a week for someone else.

Of course, the additional benefits of the flexibility allowing me to spend more time with my family and travel more add to the anticipated pleasure.

Why Is This important?

Because this is entrepreneurship.

Building an online business is NOT easy.

Things are going to get hard.

There will be days when you don’t want to get out of bed.

Maybe your last product launch was a failure. Maybe your supplier sent out a bunch of defective products that has triggered a rush of returns. Maybe your latest funnel is a performing miserably. Maybe one (or more) of your ad accounts has been banned.

These… and many other things… can and will go wrong.

And when they do, will you keep going? Or will you give up and stay in bed?


This guy needs a hell of a good 'why' if he's going to get up...

Because if you’re going to give up, my advice would be to not even start. You are GUARANTEED to hit some challenges and roadblocks before you succeed, so if they’re going to stop you then you will have waited your time.

If you’re going to keep going… what is going to motivate you to do that?

Your why.

It is your why that will get you out of bed and back in front of your computer.

It is your why that will drive you to find another supplier, build another funnel, launch another product…

And keep going back again and again until you make it.

Because that’s what you’ll have to do.

No-one… and I mean no-one… succeeds in this game without failing first. And in most cases failing many times.

If your why is not strong enough to get you back on the horse when that happens to you…

Well then you’re doomed from the start.

OK, So How Do You Find Your ‘Why’?

Now that we’ve established what your ‘why’ is and why it is important to have a strong one…

Let’s talk about how to find it.

Some people will get to this point and already know… in their hearts… what their why is.

If that’s you, congrats!

Not only do you know what your why is… if it’s that obvious to you then it’s probably a pretty strong driver for you.

You’re in good shape.

But if you’re not sure… read on…

Finding your why is as simple as asking yourself these questions:

  • What are the biggest pain points in your career right now?
  • What are the biggest pain points in your life right now?
  • How could an online business change any of those things for you?
  • What makes you happy? How could an online business increase that for you?
  • Where could you be in 5 years time if your business is successful?
  • What if you had a 6 or even 7 figure business? What would change for you? What would change for your family? How would you spend your time?

If you answer these questions honestly… after giving them serious thought…


Yes, you want to give it at least THIS much thought!

Your ‘why’ will almost certainly be found in there somewhere.

Before you finalise it though, a couple of tips.

Tip #1: Make It Selfish

Maybe you want to change the world.

Or maybe you want to help those less fortunate than yourself.

Both are noble purposes. (noble purpii??)

But my advice is to make your why as selfish as you can.

We’re human beings, and human nature is to focus on ourselves.

So if you want your why to be as strong as possible, make it as personal as possible.

Make it about you, your life, or the lives of those close to you.

That doesn’t mean it can’t incorporate some altrustic outcomes… but if you explicitly call out the way that achieving those outcomes makes you feel, then that will help to strengthen them.

Tip #2: Pain Is Often Stronger Than Pleasure

I’m not going to get into the psychology here… that’s beyond the scope of this article…

But there is a lot of evidence to suggest that the avoidance of pain is a stronger motivator than the pursuit of pleasure.

That’s why more people would do the 3 minute comedy set I talked about earlier to stop a loved one being killed… than would do it for ANY amount of money.

Tip #3: Getting Rich Is Not Your Why

Making money or being rich is a weak why.

Money is a tool. An enabler.

Focus instead on what the money could do for you. For your family.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it.

I would strongly recommend going through the process of identifying your why before you go any further.

It’s THAT important.

I would also strongly recommend re-doing this exercise from time to time to make sure it is still the right ‘why’.

This will stand you in very good stead as you progress on your entrepreneurial journey.

Good luck!


entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, financial freedom, motivation, online business, purpose

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