Start with Why by Simon Sinek practically needs no introduction. A foundational text for so many managers, business owners and marketers, Start with Why was the natural choice to launch the new Calashock Book Club. Join us each month to discover insightful and inspirational books that every entrepreneur, and everyone working in ecommerce, should read.

In this month’s book, Simon Sinek, the globally recognised author and speaker explores the importance of a clear sense of purpose in long-term business success. Sinek illustrates his point with the Golden Circle. Explaining that most businesses work from the outside in, starting with what they do or what they sell and how they do or sell it. Only considering the reason for it, the “Why” as an afterthought. But if you begin with your purpose and build out from there, it is a recipe for success.

White the book does not contain ecommerce-specific strategies, the insights are equally valuable to anyone who owns a business or works in ecommerce.

three concentric circles. The innermost says WHY, the middle says HOW and the outer says WHAT  


Start with Why challenges conventional thinking by stating that successful businesses start with a clear sense of purpose or “Why”, rather than focusing solely on “What” or “How.” Sinek’s message boils down to “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”. And with iconic examples ranging from the Wright Brothers to Apple to Harley Davidson, he makes a compelling case.

It’s not that What you do and How you do it aren’t also important to the success of a business. Obviously you need to provide a clear product or service and provide it well in order to thrive. It’s just that understanding and clearly communicating “Why” enables companies to inspire both employees and customers. Inspired employees will stay with your company for longer and will work harder to help the business grow. Inspired customers will keep buying from you, even if your competitors offer better prices.


Key Takeaways

Creating an Inspiring Company Culture

Start with Why emphasises the role of leadership in moulding a purpose-driven culture within an organisation.

It’s important for ecommerce entrepreneurs to focus on shared values and a compelling vision. Keeping these values and vision in mind when hiring, training and nurturing team members will create an environment in which employees are motivated, engaged, and aligned with the company’s mission.

A purposeful culture not only attracts top talent but also encourages teamwork and productivity, contributing to the overall success of the business.


Communicating your “Why”

Knowing your Why isn’t enough. It needs to be communicated. Your team and your customers need to know it too. Sinek highlights the importance of effectively communicating the purpose of a business to inspire and engage customers. This is particularly crucial in the ecommerce landscape, where consumers are constantly bombarded with choices.

By sharing their “Why” through authentic brand narratives and compelling storytelling, ecommerce entrepreneurs can differentiate themselves from the competition, build emotional connections with their target audience, and create a loyal customer base.


Building Trust and Loyalty

Trust is key, particularly in ecommerce, where online interactions replace face-to-face encounters. It is vital to build trust with your customers through consistent messaging and actions which consistently align with the company’s purpose.

By consistently delivering on promises, maintaining transparency, and aligning your actions with your purpose, you will earn the trust and loyalty of your customers. Leading to repeat business and positive word-of-mouth.


The Limbic Brain and Bridging the Brand-Customer Disconnect

The basis for Sinek’s theory of the golden circle and Start with Why is the function of the limbic brain. The limbic brain is responsible for feelings and emotions. It is where your “gut feelings” originate.

The important point is that this part of the brain, the part that really understands and feels the “Why” has no capacity for language. As Sinke explains, it’s the reason we struggle to put into words why we married the person we married, for example. We know we love them, but we can’t articulate exactly why, we just feel it.

This is where a disconnect often occurs. Because your “How” is just so much easiest to explain than your “Why”. This is when brands start to use facts and figures to try to sell their products. Rather than a compelling narrative rooted in a true purpose.

For ecommerce entrepreneurs, understanding the limbic brain is crucial in creating effective brand messaging. By communicating your purpose and core values, you can tap into the emotional side of your customers’ decision-making process. In this way, you can bridge the brand-customer disconnect and establish meaningful relationships that drive loyalty and long-term success.



Start with Why by Simon Sinek may not provide specific strategies tailored to the ecommerce industry, but the emphasis on purpose, inspiration and effective communication, makes it a must-read for anyone working in ecommerce or owning their own business.

By embracing Sinek’s insights, ecommerce entrepreneurs can uncover and focus on their own “Why” to create purposeful cultures, differentiate their brands, build trust with customers, and bridge the gap between rationality and emotions. Resulting in sustainable success in the competitive ecommerce landscape.

by Verena