As someone who specializes in business and marketing strategy, and who coaches entrepreneurs on how they can overcome imposter syndrome and become successful through the application of effective strategies and mindset techniques, I often like to remind myself WHY it is I do what I do.
And this is something that I think will resonate with a lot of you soulful entrepreneurs out there – especially as we enter Banned Books Week in the States.
Just think for a moment – WHY do you do what you do? What drives you to run the business you run? The particular business and marketing strategies you employ? What keeps you going day in, day out, soulful entrepreneur, when you could just let it all go?
For some, this is an easy question. For example, I’d imagine – or I’d like to imagine – that for doctors this is an easy one: for them (presumably) it’s all about taking care of other people.
But what about for us entrepreneurs? Sometimes this can get a little muddy. In fact, I suggest this is why there’s so much stuff out there about identifying your ‘target audience’, or your ‘ideal customer avatar’. Working out who it is you’re talking to and, crucially, why.
Let’s face it – knowing your why is SUPER important. In case you haven’t seen Simon Sinek’s amazing TED Talk on this topic, I suggest you take a look. 😉
But if you can’t be bothered with that… here’s a quick TL;DR: most companies are aware of WHAT it is they do as well as HOW they do it; very few, however, are in touch with WHY.
And, of course, if the why is unclear at the senior management level, then it’s certainly not going to be cascading down to the company’s employees – with consequences potentially for that company’s motivation and output. This is why Apple’s been such a successful company over the years: at the heart of what they do is a clear understanding of WHY. Or so Sinek says!
Anyway, as you ponder the why of your own business, dear entrepreneur, I thought I’d share with you a little about the why behind Poppy Grove – why it is that I do what I do; what drives me – Lisa Avila.
Poppy Grove – The ‘Why’ Behind My Business & Strategy
When I started Poppy Grove, it was after an extended period of time working as a marketing strategist in the wine industry. I enjoyed what I did – even though, at times, I struggled with imposter syndrome (something I now help people overcome – try out my free 8-day imposter syndrome email sequence if this is something you’re also trying to beat). I learned a lot, especially about wine (which I love by the way!), business and marketing strategy, and what’s important when trying to make it as an entrepreneur.
But as my attention shifted away from wine and moved toward the world of education after completing a Master’s in TESOL… I realized what really mattered to me – those values that would ultimately determine how I would live my life but, more specifically, how I would conduct myself as an entrepreneur, from that moment forward.
My Turning Point as an Entrepreneur
It was during my work as English Language Development (ELD) specialist working with young kids that I started to see the true effects of educational disadvantage in the K-12 system. It troubled me – like, really troubled me – to see how kids attending the same school but with otherwise different starting points could end up with such wildly different outcomes later in life. Seeing this inequality – this inequity – was a big turning point for me, and something I knew I had to address.
And so, besides realizing that this was something I wanted to do professionally in my then-new capacity as a school advocate, it got me thinking about how I could help others as as an entrepreneur.
When I started Poppy Grove, yes, the intention was – and always has been – to support other entrepreneurs to develop their businesses through coaching that targets business and marketing strategy, imposter syndrome, intuition, and business systems and organization… But it’s also been about helping those same people to blossom into soulful entrepreneurs – namely, people who prioritize social impact and, in particular equity, as a key ingredient in the recipe for their business’s strategic growth.
Promoting Equity in Education & Business
It’s not something I talk about very often, but if I’m being honest, promoting equity (particularly in schools – through student, family, community, and curriculum support) is something I’m deeply passionate about – to the point that I could shout about it from the rooftops. For days. (Which, incidentally, is something I am doing as we head into Banned Books Week!).
Going back to Sinek, it’s the WHY at the centre of my Golden Circle, and of Poppy Grove’s.
Because, let’s face it, if I can simultaneously help people solve their business and marketing strategy problems and crises while inviting them to consider and develop their social impact in ways that helps buck the notorious trend among young people at the mercy of educational disadvantage – the one that stops them too becoming successful entrepreneurs and businesspeople like you and me – then I’m going to do it – period. What’s NOT to like, right?
And as I grow Poppy Grove, guess what? Not only am I going to dedicate more of my time and energy to this cause, but it’s also something I intend to invest my profits into in the future.
The Elusive Entrepreneurial ‘Why’
But, let’s make something clear. While some of you entrepreneurs may be reading this and thinking ‘Yes, I know my why: it’s XYZ’, there’ll be others of you who find it harder to put their finger on it – for whom the WHY is more elusive.
In fact, for some of you entrepreneurs, you may not be consciously aware of your deepest WHY, other than how it manifests in your day-to-day drive and determination – your sense of calling, or an inner intuition, if you will.
And so I invite you, soulful entrepreneur, to think beyond the WHAT and HOW of your business, and probe a little deeper. Because once you answer this question – the golden WHY of your business – you’ll be clearer on everything from the WHAT to the HOW of your business.
And that may even go for elements of your personal life too!
Who Inspires You, Soulful Entrepreneur?
As a starting point to help you clarify your WHY, here’s something I’ve found to be incredibly valuable.
Try thinking about those businesses, organizations, and individuals whose values you’ve been inspired by – those organizations you’ve consistently looked up to, admired, and that you yearn to emulate.
As an example of what I mean, here are three organizations that resonate with me and that help remind me why I do what I do at Poppy Grove.
Optimist is a non-profit organization that partners with other non-profits to make films that raise awareness for social issues – films that, to date, have helped an astonishing 389,000 people.
Optimist has also helped to provide food and water to communities in need in Guatemala and the US, as well as micro-loans to Guatemalan entrepreneurs, and teaching and educational resources to Guatemalans and Syrian refugees.
Not only do I love the idea of using storytelling to make a positive impact on the world, but I also deeply admire Optimist’s proactivity when it comes to raising people’s awareness of social issues, as well as getting them motivated to take action.
- Californians Together
A statewide advocacy coalition for English learners, Californians Together is committed to improving California’s schools and promoting equitable educational policy – something I’m sure you can guess by now speaks directly to my heart.
As a group of organizations from all segments of the education community, they work to ensure that all English learners have access to a high-quality education. When it comes to championing educational justice, their resolve fortifies my own – both as an advocate and an entrepreneur.
Starting out with socks and underwear, Bombas is a clothing company that donates one item for every item purchased. In 2021, they donated an incredible 100 million items of clothing.
Not only is Bombas’s clothing comfortable and durable, but they also donate their clothing to homeless shelters and other organizations that support people in need.
I love the sentiment behind Bombas – that you can be successful as a business while also being socially responsible and supporting people who’re facing real disadvantage. Their work reminds me to strive for better outcomes for my clients but also my community, by giving something back whenever I can.
I am grateful to these three businesses for their inspiration and leadership, and for demonstrating to the world that it is possible to do good while also doing well.
I hope that by sharing my own story and the stories of these three businesses, I’ve encouraged you to think about the WHY behind your decision to be an entrepreneur, and the business and marketing strategy decisions you make. What is it that drives you? What do you want to achieve?
Once you have a clear understanding of your WHY, you’ll be better equipped to make strategic decisions that are aligned with your values and goals. It may also help you overcome your imposter syndrome, if that too is something you’re struggling with.
So, take some time to think about the WHY of your business and its strategy. And if you’re still struggling, feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com and let’s talk about how I can help you and your business succeed.