The Deputy First Minister, speaking in Glasgow, said deciding yes or no on whether you felt Scottish or British was not as important as what kind of future you want for Scotland.
Ms Sturgeon said a desire for social justice and not identity politics was what led her to join the SNP and that the belief a Scotland without independence lacked the tools to deliver those aims meant she did not join the Labour Party.
She praised Donald Dewar for the Scotland Act in 1998 that led to the Scottish Parliament but said it was never an end in itself, and claimed with independence Scots would no longer have a government at Westminster that a majority did not choose.
Her speech, in her role as the Scottish Government's 'Yes Minister' in charge of the referendum focused on independence as a means to an end an not an end in itself for the sake of national identity.
She said:"My conviction that Scotland should be independent stems from the principles, not of identity or nationality, but of democracy and social justice. You cannot guarantee social justice unless you are in control of the delivery.
"And that is my central argument to you today. Not just that independence is more than an end in itself. But that it is only by bringing the powers home, by being independent, that we can build the better nation we all want.
"And I ask you, as you make up your minds over these next two years, to base your decision not on how Scottish or British you feel, but on what kind of country you want Scotland to be and how best you think that can be achieved."
The Glasgow Southside MSP spoke to business leaders at the Barony Hall in Strathclyde University.
She said Scotland was already on the road to independence and was not creating a new state from nothing.
She added: "Let's never forget how far along the road to independence Scotland already is. We are not starting from scratch.
"Donald Dewar's Scotland Act of 1998 may come to be seen as one the finest pieces of legislation ever. It set up a parliament which was fit for the 21st century, we are already governing in a manner which is light years from the UK."