Today, I want to share 10 questions every entrepreneur should ask themselves.
I’ve been fortunate to be in business just over 18-years now. Along the way, I’ve made lots of mistakes (more than most). I’ve done some things right and many things wrong. I’ve never been scared to fail and I always try to learn from each mistake I make, so I don’t repeat it. Looking back, I’ve learned some valuable lessons that would benefit any entrepreneur.
I believe every entrepreneur should step away from their business from time to time to analyze things and reflect. It’s so easy to be “working in” your business all of the time that you forget you should be doing the work of a CEO: working ON your business.
10 Questions Every Entrepreneur Should Ask Themselves
The questions you see below are questions every entrepreneur should ask themselves every 90-days, as I see it. Answering these questions honestly and objectively will allow you to evaluate your business, and find simple things you can do to improve your bottom line. I suggest you go somewhere quiet where you will not be interrupted. Good luck!
# 1: What can I do to be more profitable?
The purpose of every business is to make a profit. As the CEO, you should look for ways to increase revenue AND reduce expenses. Spend some time and evaluate each expense your business has. Determine which expenses can be eliminated or replaced with something that costs less.
Also, look at your revenue streams. Determine which products or services are your most profitable ones and try to find ways to sell more of those products. Also, look for products or services that produce little or nothing to your bottom line and find ways to get rid of them!
Finally, take a close look at your customers. Who are your best customers? How can you find more people like that? And, who are your worst customers? How can you get rid of those customers and replace them with more good customers?
Profitability is the primary goal of all business ventures. Without profitability the business will not survive in the long run. So measuring current and past profitability and projecting future profitability is very important.
# 2: How can I improve my business systems?
All successful businesses are systems based, not people based. What types of systems does your business have? Are they documented? If so, are they current? Can they be improved? Are your employees actually FOLLOWING the systems?
If you’re ever looking to sell your business one day, you need systems in place. No one wants to buy a business that is owner dependent. The system is the solution!
Systems allow your business to run like a well-oiled machine while making it more streamlined, more productive, and ultimately, more profitable.
When a huge portion of your business is running smoothly and with less supervision, you can step back and let the systems do the work for you, thereby making you a smarter business owner.
You’re then free to focus on more high-touch and profitable activities that are the best use of your time, energy, skills, and expertise, all while you generate more and more profits.
# 3: What makes my business unique?
Every business needs a unique selling proposition. What makes your business unique? Why should people do business with you and not your competitor? How are you different from every other business in your niche?
When the world was introduced to social media, there was a fundamental change in how we connect with our customers. Today, there are an infinite number of ways that people access information about products and services they wish to purchase. The challenge for businesses is to maintain a consistent unique selling proposition whether their messages are on television, in print or online. Your objective is to have all your customers using the same few words when describing your brand to other people.
Source: American Express
# 4: Am I spending my time wisely?
You probably know what you are doing wrong. But if you don’t know, ask your customers for input. Ask your spouse or employees. Find out what you are doing wrong and fix it immediately. Normally, most entrepreneurs do one thing wrong. They spend their $100 per hour time doing $10 per hour tasks. Don’t make the same mistake! Don’t try to be the CEO and janitor.
Next, make a list of everything you do each week. Once you do complete that list, circle everything on your list that you could pay someone minimum wage to do. Also, circle every task on your list that does not directly generate revenue for your business. Make it a point to delegate these tasks or eliminate them as quickly as possible.
Finally, what tasks in your business are you NOT doing, but should be doing? You want to make sure you have an active role in the sales and marketing in your business. You also want to keep a pulse on the financials, if you aren’t doing so already. However, you don’t want to micro-manage your employees or do things they should be doing.
Most people spend too much time in business on insignificant busy work; they don’t invest it in the actions that really make a lasting difference. Spending time insignificantly is like spending money frivolously. It’s spent and gone forever with no hope for a return. But investing time in work that literally shifts your business is all together different. It actually makes your time more valuable by creating momentum. The better you get at managing your time, the more quickly you get results, which is almost like creating more time. Time is not a replenishable resource; we can never get it back, but we can maximize our effectiveness and outcomes by refusing to run around in circles and call it progress.
Source: Black Enterprise
# 5: Am I happy?
Life is short to do something you don’t enjoy. Hopefully, you picked a business that you love. If you are unhappy with your business, you need to spend some time to figure out why! What is your major source of stress with the business and how can you eliminate that?
Remember, entrepreneurship is not a destination, it’s a journey. If you want to be happy throughout your course of business ownership, you’ll have to work to achieve that happiness. You’re in control, so don’t be afraid to make the changes you need to make to be satisfied. The only thing that can get in the way of your satisfaction is your willingness to change or lack thereof.
# 6: Should I keep my business, close it down, or sell it?
I believe this is one of the most important questions every entrepreneur should ask themselves every 90-days. What is your plan? Do you want to stay in business? Are you sick and tired of losing money or just scraping by? Are you sick and tired of working 80-100 hours per week? What are my different options? Should I sell it, keep it or close it down? Only you can decide what is best for you. You might even be at the point where you want someone else to run your business for you, such as hiring a General Manager.
Creating a strategic plan is hard work, but it’s essential if you want your business to thrive. As the old saying goes, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably end up somewhere else.”
# 7: What are my competitors doing?
Take some time every 90-days to study your competition. What are they doing that is working? What are they not doing, but should be doing? Are there any opportunities you can seize? Can you be better, faster, cheaper, have better customer service or something else that makes you different?
You should be very aware of your direct competitors—in many cases, you’ll know them by name and may even belong to the same business associations they do. If you don’t know much about their business operations now, make sure that you do soon. It’s to your advantage to know as much as you reasonably can about the details of their businesses. Study their ads, brochures, and promotional materials. Drive past their location (and if it’s a retail business, make some purchases there, incognito if necessary.) Talk to their customers and examine their pricing. Learn what are they doing well and what they are doing poorly.
# 8: What can I do to make my business worth more money and attractive to more buyers?
The ultimate goal of every entrepreneur should be to create a business that eventually (1) runs without them and (2) can be sold at a future date for a substantial profit. Spend some time and look at your business from a potential buyer’s perspective. What is attractive about your business? What isn’t? Focus on making your business more attractive to buyers.
Do everything in your power to absolutely delight your customer. Going above and beyond to deliver an amazing customer experience increases the chance of repeat bookings, and might inspire your customer to recommend your business. These are both positive levers on the unit economic model of a business.
# 9: Do I have the right advisors and protection?
Take some time and review your legal team, insurance team, accounts and advisors. Are you happy with them? Does your business have the right insurance and legal protection? If pertinent, are you products copyrighted or patented. Are you slogans trademarked? Is your intellectual property protected adequately?
Having access to legal, accounting and other expertise is important to help your business grow as rapidly and efficiently as possible. Given enough time, you may be able to master the intricacies of law and finance. But why bother? Hand these duties off to professional service providers. They can do them faster and more effectively than you ever could. Besides, your skills are needed in helping your business expand.
# 10: What is the one thing?
I saved this question for last. What is the one thing that would make the biggest difference in your business in the next 90-days? You probably already know the answer to this question. If you don’t know, your job is to figure it out. Brainstorm lots of ideas and come up with your top priority for the next 90-days!
So what does it take to get a breakthrough? Well, it doesn’t happen by luck or magically on its own. It happens through careful planning and dogged execution. It happens when you have a vision and a strategy, a focused plan written down, with ownership, commitment, and actions. This all creates intention and purpose around things that can make it happen.
My Test for You
My test for you is to write down these 10 questions every entrepreneur should ask themselves on a sheet of paper and spend 1-2 hours answering the questions. Try to come up with at least 3-5 ideas for each question. It is quite perhaps the best way to turn around your business and start getting better results right away.
As an entrepreneur, sometimes you need to step away from your business and look at it from the outside in. By answering these 10 questions every entrepreneur should ask themselves every 90-days, you will be well on your way. Whenever you face a problem or challenge in your business, write the problem down on a piece of paper and try to answer it objectively. Good luck!
What are your thoughts about these questions? Do you agree or disagree? Leave a comment below to let me know what you think.