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Nearly every company starts the same way, with an idea.  An idea is fueled by passion, the kind of passion that leads us to do irrational things, like leaving a good-paying job, working incredibly long hours, and sacrificing stability and certainty.

Many small businesses fail because passion alone is not enough. That passion is their why, the purpose, cause or belief that defines them.  Passion needs structure to survive.  Businesses need structures and procedures, so their people know how to get things done, how to set and reach goals, how to do what needs to be done to produce and deliver the best products and services, how to reach the clients or customers that resonate with their why and believe as they believe.

Strangely enough, the biggest challenge a business may face is success.  With success, the company may forget about its why and only focus on how and what they do.  This can lead to disastrous results. Walmart started off as a company obsessed with serving the community and became obsessed with achieving its goals.

When a business is small, the founder relies on gut feelings, what feels right, to make decisions.  As the organization grows and becomes more successful, it’s not possible for one person to make all the decisions. Others must be trusted and relied upon to make all kinds of decisions, which may not be made in alignment with the Founder's why.

As the power base grows, the why becomes diluted, and the company experiences a split. Gut feelings are replaced by linear thinking and empirical data.  They are no longer inspired by a cause greater than themselves. They simply come to work, manage systems and work to reach certain preset goals.  The passion is gone, and inspiration fades away.


Manipulation starts to dominate how the company sells its products and services. Bonuses, promotions, stock options and overt or unspoken threats are used to hire and hold onto talent.  This is the state that most companies find themselves in today. It’s a major cause of stress, burnout. and work dissatisfaction.


Businesses that focus on what and how can reconnect with their why. Starting with Why is hopeful, it feels hopeful for business and the future. It’s the catalyst that can change how business is done and how the everyday man and woman, middle manager and top leaders enjoy and love work life.