7 Questions A Small Business or Startup Should Ask Themselves Every DayFebruary 22nd, 2011 | KikScore & KikReport,Leadership,Online & Small Business Resources,Small Business Tips | No Comments »
I like to talk. I like to talk alot, especially when I have had a few really good margaritas. And my wife, my family and friends can all attest to that fact. That is all except for where I may have had too much to drink and then I have an uncanny tendency to just fall asleep in mid-sentence sometimes even at a restaurant booth (reference multiple experiences in Columbus, Ohio eating a Barnyard Buster and in Washington DC eating a jumbo slice at Pizza Mart).
Anyway so what is my point? Talking is not as good as everyone makes it seem for business. Instead asking questions is much more important. It really did not dawn on me, however, until I was reflecting back on conversations with mentors, business partners, and our own team that you really should be asking critical questions about your business almost on a daily basis. Those questions can help uncover critical gaps in strategy, planning and execution for your startup or small business. If you ask these questions, then you can increase your chances of addressing these gaps.
So here are a few questions that may help you with your business:
1. Distractions. Are you focusing your efforts on the right tasks for your business and avoiding distractions that take you away from meeting your overall goals?
We all know how bad distractions can be in business. Distractions can be one of the biggest impediments to building momentum for your business. The trick here is to make sure your business and your team is focused on what will move the business forward by continually weeding out distractions.
2. Customer Satisfaction. Are you doing everything to make your customers’ lives easier in some way through either using your product/service or helping educate them?
If your customers are not happy, then it will be nearly impossible to grow your business. So in everything you do you need to make sure the goal of the task is that you are helping your customers in some way. If not, then you should seriously consider abandoning those tasks that do not relate to helping current or potential customers.
3. Customer Value. How can you give your customers more reasons to keep buying from your business and not your competition?
Your customers are likely being bombarded by your competitors with tempting offers and reasons to buy from them instead of you. So you have to be relentless in making sure you give your customers reasons to remain loyal to you. Without investing the time to create that customer loyalty, your business will always be at risk of churning valuable customers to your competitors.
4. Facilitating Word of Mouth Marketing. How can you get more customers to refer their friends and contacts to use your product/service?
Word of Mouth Marketing is free. So all it costs you is the time and effort to give the customer a great experience, but also the means for that customer to spread the word about your business and the product/service that they love. So always be thinking about how can you arm your customers with information about your business value that you can provide the market. The best way to do that (and least selfish) is making sure the customer knows the value you have created for them. They can then go and spread the word for you!
5. Building Trust. Are you doing everything possible to ensure that your customers have confidence in your business, product or service and believe that you are reliable.
Customers know small businesses and startups come and go. There is a reason why buyers tend to prefer larger and more established brands. So one way to distinguish yourself is to make sure that everything that you do for your customers and for the public is viewed through the lens that you are trustworthy, reliable and your business delivers on its promises. That track record of delivering will help generate trust in your business. Heck, after all that is what KikScore was based on – allowing small businesses to show the world their track record of reliability and trustworthiness!
6. Your Team. Do you have the right team to succeed and grow your business and if not, should you bring in a new employee or a freelancer?
Businesses and startups can be just like my beloved Cleveland Browns. The Browns team has been terrible since 1999. Bad teams means lots of losses. So learn from the Browns and be like this year’s Packers (Collins will like this reference). The Packers built a great team, loaded it up with depth and even got people off the streets in some instances to fill in when key players were injured. The New Orleans Saints did the same last year on their way to winning a Super Bowl. As you evaluate your team, make sure you have depth, solid performers and cut the freeloaders as they are a drag on morale and overall team dynamics. Once you eliminate the underperformers then decide if you need a new employee or perhaps a freelancers that can step in and augment your existing team.
7. Your Money. What are areas of your business that you can manage your costs better?
Always be reviewing where your money is going. Even though it is sometimes easy to just say well those costs are ones that I can’t really control and I just have to suck it up and pay for them. NO! Call up that vendor and see what discounts that they can give you. Threaten to leave and go to their competitor. Also there may be particular functions at your small business or startup that you can get experts to help with instead of you having to spend extensive time on your own. Time is money so the value of your time may very well be better spent on your core business of serving your customers then performing back office functions or doing things like managing a marketing campaign.
These are just some of the questions that each small business or startup should be asking themselves. But just like too much talking, too many questions can send you down a spiral of too much analysis and confusion. Keep your daily self-analysis of your business to certain key questions that are fundamental to your business and watch and see if your perspective and approach changes.
What questions would you ask?
Photo from Flickr user Marco Bellucci, CC 2.0.