As we go through the days, weeks and months running a business it’s pretty easy to lose sight of the underlying reasons that make owning a business such a fulfilling experience.
Between the phone ringing, the network going down, and the shipment arriving late there’s the tiniest gap that we must stay connected to in order to build a business that serves our lives while providing a place for customers and staff to experience something remarkable.
I find that the following questions help me reconnect with that gap when it gets a little hard to see, feel, and hear.
1) Why are we doing this?
I wrote about doing work that serves a higher purpose last week and I think this is the question that helps stay connected to the greater reason for doing what you do. This can have a very practical branding application as well because if your business is driven by something very authentic – the manifestation of that can produce some very real branding elements. A business driven to serve, rather than simply sell a service, can wrap many messages and flourishes in that reason to serve.
2) What are we here to give?
I think this is the greatest question anyone who sells a product, service or idea can adopt. By placing your point of view on giving rather than getting, you will be more prepared to produce value for the customer and spot opportunities to produce innovations that could allow you to create even greater value. This ability to adapt to create value is one of the greatest natural advantages small businesses possess.
3) What do we want people to experience?
The rush to social media is really about the evolving trend towards greater customer engagement. Prospects and customers are growing to expect much more in terms of engagement. Organizations that spend as much time on creating a better, more engaging, customer experience as they do on generating new leads will soon find that all of their best leads are coming from existing customers. The key is to look at every aspect of your business from the eyes of a customer and intentionally design the exact experience, perception, or brand you plan for them to encounter.
4) What are we supposed to learn from this?
This one comes courtesy of the parent in me. When we meet challenges, some might call them failures, in business it’s quite natural for some to get caught up in what went wrong. The much more positive approach is to look at every turn in the road as a lesson. If you can start to wonder what you are to learn or determine how to make meaning from set backs you can drop the stress over things going bad and you just might get a glimpse of what you were really put here to do.
5) Who could do this better?
This last question always vexes me. I think I do a lot of things well. In fact, one the greatest skills and consequently weaknesses of many small business owners is the ability to adapt, figure things out on their own, and charge ahead. While we have many skills and talents there are usually only a handful of those skills and talents that can be leveraged to move the organization ahead and produce the greatest profit.
When you come to understand the work you should be focused on and start looking for partners, employees and collaborators who can do the other important, but not in your zone, work your business will change dramatically. Once again, from a practical standpoint you can often buy services far greater than you can actually do them half-baked yourself.
What questions drive you deeper into understanding how to build your business?
Image credit: wadem
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