Jason Cohen, founder of Smart Bear Software and publisher of an excellent blog call A Smart Bear published this list of 10 Questions You Should Ask Yourself Every Month. Actually it was in response to his previous post about Ditching Your Business Plan which I found thought provoking. I have a business plan that sits gathering dust and I rarely refer to it trusting my memory to keep on track and I don’t think I am much different than most business people.
When I read this blog post I realized that asking yourself these 10 questions was not only more effective than referring to a static plan, but it allowed you to react to current conditions. I wonder if there was a business plan written for 2009 that came even close to predicting the economic calamities of last year.
This list is the best way to work on your business once a month instead of only working in your business.
Here are John’s ten questions with my editorial. Please refer to his original article for more insight.
- In one sentence, what does your product (or service) do and who buys it?
- In one sentence, why does someone buy your product?
This can definitely change as the economy and competition change.
- What one thing is most responsible for preventing sales?
I think if you reflect back on lost sales over the past 30 days it is more relevant than asking this at the end of the year. Who can even remember. I had the situation where I would submit a proposal for a new website, receive a positive response, but getting the green light to start was taking too long. So I developed a simple Website Contract that I would email the prospect which would allow them to actually sign something to initiate the process.
- What’s one thing you could do to get more feedback from customers, potential customers, or sales you’ve lost? It is easy to focus so hard on your business that you stop to smell the roses or solicit feedback. Maybe what you are doing is not working
- If you had zero revenue from now on, on what date would you run out of money?
- If someone handed you $100,000 today, how would you spend it to maximize future profits? This is more difficult to answer than some people think as most businesses live within their means and don’t dream about what could be, but this is an important question to ask. It could be you only need $1,000 or $10,000.
- If you were forced to hire someone today, how would you define her job such that she would contribute enough revenue to cover her expense? I recently did this as my website work had increased rapidly and much of the work was administrative in nature which was holding me back from design and graphics etc. Now I bill my Client Services Manager out for work I had no time to complete.
- Which of your business operations do you hate? In the next month for me it would be invoicing and collections so this is the next thing I delegate.
- What initiatives could be done half-assed without significant impact? Sometimes I spend half an hour looking for the right image for my blog posts. I think they make a difference, but would I have fewer subscribers if I did not insert the perfect picture?
- If you could get one solid hour of advice from a guru you respect, what would you discuss and what would be the goal of the meeting?
These may not be the 10 questions for your business, but start thinking along these lines and your business can only prosper.
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