Start your Business with Why

Start your Business with Why


17 AUGUST 2017

written by Mike




“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”

A well-known phrase from Simon Sinek’s book “Start with why”.

Sinek’s reasoning is that people buy stories, especially when they pay premium prices. Especially when it comes to luxury goods.

Why pay more for a bag? Watch? A piece of furniture?

These are just commodities; a cheap chair will have the same function as a designer chair. Same for any other luxury product. The same of course goes for the service. You can find freelancers that charge £10, £100 and even £1000 per hour.

Why such a difference in price? Is the quality of service that different?

Sometimes it is.

But more than often people shop for stories, stories that they can share with friends.

“He works with celebrities.”

“He trained with the best in the world.”

“She produced a well-known podcast.”

“She wrote a book.”

All of these make an interesting conversation, worth sharing with others. That’s why people who create a movement, rather than just a service are more in demand. Look at Casefile podcast, one of the most listened true crime shows.

Is the podcast revolutionary? Are the stories so much different from others?

Or maybe it’s not just about the technicalities. Maybe it’s about the why, the story, the motivation.

A story can be a powerful tool to drive your business, but it must not be hidden.


Take an honest look at your website, flyers, icons, social banners.

Do these convey your brand picture? Your narrative? Or are they just a templated, commonly used stock photos?

The design is often overlooked in most industries. Services, products, workshops usually take the first place. It’s all about sales.

The truth is, people don’t want to be sold to, they want to relate to your offerings. They want to feel like a part of a community, be involved in something more. People don’t like to be sold to, but they love to buy. Look at your favourite companies, check their mission, their vision.

Do they care only about sales, or they start with the vision for the brand?

Of course, sometimes it is hard to present the full story, your ‘why.’ But when you write it down, when you discover it during the strategy session it’s much easier to pass that information to your audience, your clients.

Let’s be honest; it’s not as easy as just posting your mission in the middle of the website. Technical aspects such as UX design, mobile responsive, layout are important. But why is your profile, website, logo designed they way it is? Is it just because everyone has a digital profile, so you do too?

Think about a story that your clients could tell their friends. If the only thing they can say is that your prices are low, then it’s going to be hard to survive, let alone for your business to thrive. But maybe there is something that you haven’t thought about before. Something that you always talk about with your clients, something that keeps them interested, keeps them coming back.

Use that, write it down in your brief, make it the centre of your business.

It can be a story, your ‘why’.

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Strategy and Podcasting

Strategy and Podcasting


11 AUGUST 2017

written by Mike




I talk a lot about the importance of the discovery and strategy session.

But what is it?

Do you need to invest in one?

And what does it have to do with podcasting?

Starting any venture, be it a business, a podcast or a website is a lot of work. Some time ago I read that it takes around 18 months for a business to be profitable, and that’s assuming everything goes well.

Even with Casefile, it took us well over a year before we had any income coming in, enough to cover the costs. Considering how much luck we had on the way it still meant working on the show every week for months without knowing if it was ever going to work.

Things like that are unique, we never intended it to be a business, we never intended for the podcast to make money but looking back I can see that we could avoid many mistakes if we had a strategy in place.

That’s when design-thinking comes in. Imagine starting a new business, let’s say a sound production practice. The cost of the project would start in thousands of pounds, sometimes more.

Would you risk it if you knew that there is a strong chance it’s not going to work?

Or would you try to manage the risk but assessing the challenges and writing down the vision for the project?

Big companies and corporations know about the discovery. Each decision they make cost a lot of money and effort, things like website rebranding or changing a logo it’s much more complicated for them than it is for you.

There is a lot of cash involved, and to get approval on the project the vision needs to be clear. Everyone from marketing to programming department must know what they are doing.

There is a lot of research and planning required. Hence sessions such as these cost thousands of pounds and are out of reach for the average person. But to be the best, we need to study the best and imitate them within our means.

A business requires focus, vision and a plan. A discovery session for your, often one woman/man business is as important as for a large company because numbers are arbitrary. For them spending 500k on a website is a lot of money, but so is 5k for you.

They need to know why and what are they buying, and so do you.



What I usually say to a client when they ask about discovery process is a simple doctor metaphor.

When you go to a doctor would you prefer to describe what you feel and what you think you need and just grab a prescription for medicine?

Or would you prefer to be checked, diagnosed and looked at by a professional before getting the prescription?

Even if you just want to start a podcast, not a full-size business.

What will be the look of the website? The logo? The name?

Do you have a target audience in mind?

What do you want to achieve with the show?

Discovery is a partnership between the members of the team. We sit down together; we talk about the business, we locate the problems and agree on solutions. The direction is clear; the goals are set, everyone is on the same page.

But what if it’s just you and the microphone?

Well, I assume you will still need help with other aspects of the show such as website, social presence, graphics.

Even if you want to do all by yourself, having a clear picture in mind will help you to focus, especially during the moments when you want to change it all up again. That’s most important aspect of the strategy session.

What most of us do, is to get excited about one thing then when the initial emotion passes we start to doubt our decision. We discover something new and pivot, to get a dose of that excitement again.

I see it over and over again with my partner’s work. Her main profession is graphic design, and most of her clients want to skip on the strategy when she mentions it. They want to get straight into the works, the graphics, the labour.

Then after weeks of back and forth, hundreds or thousands of dollars later, and multiple changes to the initial design they still can’t decide on the final product. What if the goals were aligned from the start?

What if every time they get excited about new feature or idea they could go back to the initial strategy document?

The focus is the only way to succeed in any venture. Focus and practice.

It’s like the famous quote goes

I fear not the man who has practised 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practised one kick 10,000 times.

Bruce Lee

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Should You Give a Free Advice?

Should You Give a Free Advice?


03 AUGUST 2017

written by Mike




Before we try to answer that, let’s look at where we are now.

We are entering the biggest revolution humanity had since industrial time – age of information. Thanks to the internet, all knowledge is here, and it’s free. We can have any question answered instantly, without going to the library and this is just the beginning. And the changes are seen everywhere.

For example?

The end of “faceless” companies and organisation. Thanks to social media, customers can now have a direct connection with their favourite brands. Audio companies, podcasters, producers. They all have (or some of them at least) Facebook pages; Twitter feeds, Instagram accounts.

We can follow them, ask them questions, comment on their content. “Behind the wall” secrecy is gone, IP laws are still in play but they are antiquated, and soon we will need new ways of doing business. Protectionism won’t work, people need and want transparency. Especially from professionals who help with subjects such as business and entrepreneurship.

Look at Pat Flynn, it’s the community that drives his business. The stories, financial reports, encouragement. If that was hidden from a public eye, I doubt he would enjoy the success he has.

So what should you do?



Let’s have a look at some thought leaders of our time.

On the front, you have people like Gary Vaynerchuk who in his work “Thank you economy.” explains the principle of reciprocity. Give people until they want to give back, and they will, it’s human nature. We don’t like the feeling of debt.

An example could be my friends, a yoga teacher. I told her she should be selling yoga mats and other accessories after her classes. I would rather buy a yoga mat from her than from a random shop online. She is an excellent teacher, and I want to support her business because when you add value to people’s lives, they want to give back.

Kevin Kelly in his books “New Rules of the New Economy” and the latest “Inevitable” writes about the same issues, but from a technology point of view. Everything will become cheaper, instantaneous and abundant. Attention becomes the currency of the future and to get the attention you need to offer value. Free advice, tips, and content that helps people, without any hidden agenda (we are savvy enough to see through it). As the information will surround us the answer to your business will be in providing the best experience – human experience.

So again, what should you do?

Go outside and start training people for free?

Well, not quite.

In his book, “Free” Chris Anderson gives many different business models based on advising for free. You could give an “evergreen” advice through videos, blog, and posts but charge for a personalised plan and “premium” content. Skype calls check-ups, weekly meeting. That could be built into a subscription model your business is based on. Online lectures could be free, with video recordings available for everyone. 

Maybe more insightful content, books and special events could be a premium that you charge for?

Every business is different; every customer is different. By looking where social media and the internet is going, we know one thing. Content is a gateway to your business. Building an audience and loyal customer base takes time and effort, asking for money upfront won’t work in the future, you need to offer something first.

Your neighbour is not the only competition you are facing now; it’s the whole world.

So better start now.

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