By Johnna Dukes, ABOC

Do you want to be the boss? Do you want to do things your own way? Do you want to be the final decision maker? Do you have the intestinal fortitude to bear the weight of the consequences those decisions will bring? Did you answer “yes” to any or all of these questions? Great—settle in, let’s talk about business.

First, we need to be clear about a few things. Business ownership isn’t for the faint of heart. Being the boss ain’t all it’s cracked up to be all of the time. Sure it’s great to be able to say, “We’re doing this because I said so,” and to mean it because you’re the boss, but you must also be prepared to feel the weight of every single decision that needs to be made, and it can be much more pressure than you realize. At the end of the day if things don’t go absolutely perfectly with every dispense, it’s your name on the door, it’s your reputation, and it’s your problem. When things go amazingly (and that will happen too) it’s great to be able to sit back and take it all in and relish those moments where all of your hard work pays off. I like to say owning a business is a bit like raising a child. It’s fear and love and obligation and reward all wrapped up into one giant animal. But for those of us who understand the risks, the rewards (emotional and financial) can be pretty great.

If you’re still with me and you want to talk about owning your own business, let’s get right down to the nitty-gritty. Why do you want to do it? If you haven’t had the opportunity to really think this one through, it’s time to do just that. In my experience, knowing WHAT you do isn’t nearly as important as knowing WHY you do it. You see, it all comes down to motivation. “What” is an action; “Why” is the behavior that drives it. If your “Why” comes out before your “What,” you’re going to be amazingly successful in the business world. Have you seen the Ted Talk by Simon Sinek called “Start with Why”? If not, run, don’t walk, do it now. (Really, I’ll wait.) He talks about the fact that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. I think that is such a powerful message, and so many people haven’t identified the “Why,” only the “What.” Case in point, you know you want to open your own business, you just don’t have any idea about why you want to.

Do you think you can offer different products or services from what are currently being offered in your area? Do you think you are the best optician around, and that you can offer better service and knowledge than anyone around? Do you have an innovative idea about doing business that no one else is utilizing? I hope you said yes to all of these, because if you’re not solid on any of these answers, opening your own business will be a tricky endeavor. All of these questions are “Why” questions. My “Why” is that I have always believed that people should be encouraged to feel beautiful and to love their own reflections. Even though I am a fabulous optician, I have a skill in helping people see their own beauty. So the reason I wanted to open my own business was to educate patients about their gorgeous features so we can help craft eyewear that makes them feel beautiful.

There are millions of eyewear dispensaries who will all tell you they make eyewear. (In case you haven’t figured this out yet, making eyewear is your “What.”) And if you’re just another voice saying that you too, make eyewear, why will your customer choose you? If you haven’t told your customers why they should choose you, they won’t. So not only is identifying your “Why” important for you to understand, but it is vitally important for your customer to understand. Being able to deliver your “Why” to the public is the key role of marketing, and crafting this message will become one of the most important things you do as a business owner.

Here is where we start thinking like business owners—we start to think about messaging and about why your business is different from any others out there. And it all starts with understanding and identifying your “Why.”