Best Practices

NetWork Kansas: Why vs. What in Entrepreneurship

Published Nov 12, 2013 by



In my role as Director of Statewide Programs at NetWork Kansas, I am often invited to speak in front of lenders, community leaders, and entrepreneurs. I am currently working on a presentation I’ll make for an audience of business owners. I am a very conscientious person by nature and cannot help but wonder how I best motivate and inspire this audience.  


Too often, speakers "phone in" their remarks, quickly grabbing the last PowerPoint slide deck they have available, knowing they can talk through the bullet points without burning time preparing something more custom and meaningful to the audience. These presentations largely focus on the "what" of a program or organization - for example, a set of bullet points that outline the guidelines of a funding program. While this is potentially educational it is also boring and uninspiring. Would you voluntarily sign up to hear someone read you a list of guidelines? I wouldn't.

Simon Sinek, thought leader and TED Talk presenter, eloquently differentiated the inspiring from the uninspiring in one sentence: "People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it." How different would a presentation about an organization or program feel if the presenter spent time telling the audience why they do what they do? I'll admit I have not done this enough, even though I believe my story is compelling. 

I started my own business at the age of 24 and had no clue what I was doing. I didn't have the support of a resource group like NetWork Kansas to help me navigate the challenges. I lived the fear that comes with giving up your steady paycheck, financing your business on a credit card and praying that the local bank will send you an approval letter. I do what I do because I want to help people like the 2001 version of myself. I am also wired to pull for the underdog, and there is no bigger underdog in economic development than the startup entrepreneur!

If you are intrigued by the "what vs. why" concept, I encourage you to watch Simon Sinek's TED Talk - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-6WvFGVmQM


Here's to sharing our "whys" and moving people to action on the issues that matter to us!

Content contributed by Corey Mohn and Network Kansas.  Network Kansas is a proud affiliate of U.S. SourceLink, America's largest resource network for entrepreneurs.