How I Found My Business "Why"

By Elliott Holt, an EO Nashville member and CEO of

Very few companies can clearly articulate WHY they do what they do. When I say WHY, I don’t mean to make money, I mean what is our purpose, cause or belief? WHY does our company exist? WHY do we get out of bed every morning?

I’m a product of hard-working parents, both entrepreneurs who also worked full-time jobs while running their own business. My father was a pressman, starting his printing business in the basement of our home when I was five. He delivered newspapers every morning, arriving at the Tennessean by 2:30 a.m. to roll out his papers. Many mornings I would go with him and help “throw papers.” In those years of going on his paper route and watching him take a 30-minute nap before going to his “8-5,” I saw the dedication to his family, which instilled a work ethic and values in me. I realized over time that helping my father was a simple metric in an equation that would produce a strong-willed, ethical businessman.

Another major part of the equation was my mom, who worked as a medical transcriptionist for most of my life. She would pick me up from school every afternoon and I would go back to work with her until the evenings. I was always the
student who got my work done before school was out, so that when I got out of school, it was MY time. I would use “my time” to help in the medical records department filing, organizing and pulling charts for appointments until the office manager finally put me on the payroll. I felt needed, I was accountable for my job duties and I was making money doing it.

How I Applied My WHY
Once I graduated, I found myself back in the orthopedic office where I had originally started. I successfully whipped our medical records department into shape, but still saw a weakness in our department. We used an outside service to release our medical records. The problem: We always had complaints from requestors saying that they never received records or that the turnaround time was too long. Being from my entrepreneurial family, I didn’t think twice about asking the administrator if I could just release the medical records myself and get rid of the current service. I knew I could do a more efficient job at processing the records with less complaints, and I was ready for whatever was thrown my way.

With US$50 in my checking account, my mom and I signed up for AOL Internet … she also gave me a US$500 gift card she let me use to buy my first copy machine. I used that same copy machine to scan the first 15 clients I had until I could afford to purchase more equipment and hire more staff. Fast forward 13 years, and I have invested all my profit back into my company, which has grown debt-free with zero investors.

Understanding My WHY
Who would have predicted that one of my main reasons for being on this earth would be to deliver information, even though I had so many signs before. I believe it was my destiny to do this, to make the delivery of information better in every way possible. With great influences like my parents, I was taught not to take anything for granted; when you deliver information, it should be the truth and in the most efficient way possible.

As my company continues to grow and evolve, I want all my employees to understand WHY we do what we do. It is my mission to instill the company’s core values within every employee and help drive them to be passionate in their work and anything else they do in their lives. To embrace your past and use it to make a better tomorrow.


Categories: Entrepreneurial Journey


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