Readers Respond: Questions to Ask About Your Business
Recently, I wrote about various questions to keep asking your business, and asked my readers for their take on the questions, and suggestions for additional questions. Here is an extract of what they had to say. The list was actually a fair bit longer, with over 30 additional questions. What I provide here is a sampling of those answers, grouped by focus point.
Customers and Clients
- How do I win more customers? (James Wilson) This is one of the biggest questions to be asking yourself, because your existing customers can only bring you so far, and if you want your business to grow, you will need to find new customers.
- What is the profile of my best customers? (Mike McRitchie) In order to attract new customers, you need to know what kind of customer is ideal for your business.
- Am I looking after my existing customers? (Michael Greenwood) We are often sidetracked by growth, and forget to take care of those who made the growth possible. Don’t forget about your current clients when searching for new clients.
Products and Services
- How do I create excitement for my product? (Dave Maskin) If your product is boring, you’ll have a hard time selling it. Make sure that you know how to spin your product or service so that it looks interesting and exciting.
- Are we delivering value consistently? (John Cameron) Make sure that as your company grows, you continue to deliver the same or better quality that your customers have come to expect from you.
- How should I price products? (James Wilson) Profits are a function of having the right price and keeping your expenses down. Make sure that you spend enough time figuring out the right price, and that you adjust for changes in your costs on a regular basis.
- What are my benchmarks and how do I actually stack up against them? (Shelly Searcy) How do you measure your success, or advances? Where do you stand at any given point in time?
- How do my numbers stack up to the past and others in my industry? (Mike McRitchie) It’s important to know where you stand in terms of your history and your competition. This information can help you plan for growth, and to determine how best to capture more of your market segment.
Growth and Goals
- Am I really being realistic in each of my business assumptions? (Wallace Jackson) You can only grow if you are honest and truthful with yourself. Make sure that any assumptions made about your business are as accurate as possible.
- Are the values and purpose and vision clear for my business? (Steve Rucinski) Your business will grow in the direction you desire only if all the people involved understand what it is your business stands for.
- Where and to whom can we profitably deliver more value? (John Cameron) Growth is done by expanding either your services or products, or by expanding the size of your portion of the market. Do you know what your options are?
- How much growth can my cash handle? (Mike McRitchie) The most limiting factor to growth is likely the money you have on hand. Make sure you know how much cash you have available, and what your options are for acquiring more cash, either via an investment or as a loan.
- What is keeping us from achieving our most ambitious goals? (Adrienne Creger Jandler) You haven’t yet reached your goals, but if you understand what it will take to reach those goals, then you can and will succeed.
In summary, you can reduce all these questions to just four, as phrased by Karen Sherr:
- What am I doing that I should be doing?
- What am I doing that I shouldn’t be doing?
- What am I not doing that I should be doing?
- What am I not doing that I shouldn’t be doing?
All the questions about your business come down to those four, to ensure that you’re doing the right things, none of the wrong things, and you haven’t missed anything. The rest is just details.