The What and The Why

Compared to a decade ago, it’s ridiculously easy to start a new web business these days. There are a number of platforms and free software that can be used to quickly create a piece of software without seeking any additional funding. But as Michael Gerber points out in the E-myth: just because one knows how to write software doesn’t mean one knows how to run a software business.

The software is the what, the business is the why.

In a world where it is easy to build a new software business, many are doing so. They have a great idea (the what), but when it meets the reality of people’s already oversubscribed attention, it fails to make a difference.

Many at this stage give up. They’ve got another great idea. Others start looking at the market and pivot their business as they figure out the why. Why are the 4 people who signed up using it? What is their problem? This painful learning process starts them on the path of actually making a genuine business (building a product or service people are willing to pay for). As they discover the why, they come to a much more in-depth understanding of what needs to be built. Even if others copy the new “what”, their understanding of the why is missing, which enables the real business to stay a step ahead.

It’s not enough for us to have a great idea and assume others will join. We must also understand why that issue is important to others, and then solve it FOR THEM (not for us).

Do you understand the why of your business?







2 responses to “The What and The Why”

  1. David Delp Avatar

    Perfect question. A client I work with uses “the seven why’s” to get to the ” real why.” It’s a scary question for a lot of engineers who tend to be okay at the “what” and better at the “how.” Maybe because it can be a soft answer. It requires an emotional connection to actual humans. I’m working with database designers. Their goal is to come up with a better way to edit and interrelate different objects. They’ll get to the “why” later.

  2. […] creating. My good friend and Entrepreneur, Matthew Michels, articulates the issue well in his post The What and the Why. A fellow User Experience Designer, Etay Gafni, told me just this week about a past client who […]

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