Why Does Your Bike Shop Exist? And Why Should Anyone Care?

As of December, 2013 Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk, How Great Leaders Inspire Action, was ranked number three of most watched Ted Talks with over fourteen million views. And deservingly so, many businesses have used Sinek’s talk to guide their strategies. The talk is referenced in dozens of books and Specialized, Trek, and Cannondale have all used the talk in presentations to their retailers. One of the reasons the video is so popular is because Sinek explains how inspired leaders and organizations think differently than everyone else. They do this by first defining why they do what they do. Then they say how they do it and finally, what they do. I will break that down a bit further.

The Golden Circle. Smart leaders and organizations work from the inside out. Starting with why. 

The Golden Circle. Smart leaders and organizations work from the inside out. Starting with why. 

What. Every bike retailer in the world knows what they do. These are the clearest definitions of their business and for many reading this book, the most common list of what bike retailers do:

  • Sell bicycles, equipment, and apparel
  • Repair bicycles
  • Fit bicycles
  • Coaching and/or consulting

How. Many bike retailers can even define how they do it. This is what many people in business refer to as their unique selling proposition, or USP. This is what makes doing business with one IBR better than shopping from their competition. Here are the most common answers I hear to how people do what they do.

  • Perfect location
  • Great selection
  • Experienced and highly trained staff
  • Family owned
  • Detail oriented
  • Fastest turn around
  • Competitive prices
  • Awesome shopping experience
  • No intimidation or pushy salespeople

Looking at this list, many retailers will agree that those are all things their business offers to their customers. That’s the catch, every IBR believes they offer these things and no owner or manager will say otherwise. No bike retailer in the country will tell their customers, “We have a crappy selection of bikes, moron employees, and we do really shitty work.” If everyone is offering the same thing, what makes anyone truly special, different, or unique?

Why. Where companies struggle is defining why they do what they do, and to quote Sinek “It is not to make a profit, that is a result and it is always a result. By why I mean, what is your purpose, your cause, or your belief?  Why does your organization exist? Why do you get out of bed every morning? And why should anyone care?” When retailers effectively define why they do what they do, they are speaking to the emotional center of their customers. Here are some of the best I have heard.

  • We live and breathe triathlon.
  • We believe you deserve the best cycling experience.
  • We believe the bike should never be an excuse.
  • We believe cycling will change your life.
  • We want to grow the Portland commuting scene.
  • We provide a service with a performance benefit.
  • We want more cyclists riding more often.
  • We are mountain bikers to the bone.

When retailers define why they do what you do, many of the day-to-day business choices become a lot easier. For example, let’s pretend a retailer has defined their why as, “We live and breathe triathlon.” What brands do they carry? They carry brands that have a dedicated focus to triathlon. What type of people do they hire? Triathletes, preferably people who live and breathe triathlon. What publications do they advertise in? They advertise in publications that triathletes read. What events do they sponsor? That’s easy, they sponsor triathlons. What would be the best way to grow their business? Possibly with swim and run gear. People do not buy from businesses that have what they need; people buy from businesses that believe what they believe. 

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