10 Questions Every Business Owner Should Be Asking
The ability to reflect on business decisions, and then use these reflections to improve, should be two main goals for people who want to expand their business reach and refine their business skills. An important part of being able to reflect and improve is to question your current positions; are you doing well, what can you improve on, and where should you stay put for the betterment of your business?
If you want to succeed in business, there are a couple of questions that you should ask yourself every few months:
1. What’s my plan?
This might seem like a no-brainer, but a vast majority of small businesses lack a concrete 5-year plan for expansion. Take a weekend to think about the full extent of the goals you would like to set for your business over a few timed tiers (a good mark is to have weekly, monthly, three month, six month, and year-long goals at a minimum).
Make yourself a list with actionable goals on them, even if those goals are simple and incremental.
Let’s take an example. You’ve inherited a business which is profitable and on-track, but your employee retention is low enough that it’s hurting profits. By the end of a week, you might make it a goal to individually interview all of your employees about job satisfaction, by a month identify the main issues, and by a year raise employee satisfaction and retention to industry parity.
2. Why would a customer come to me?
Unless you’re the only purveyor of very specific items, you’re going to need a strong point of differentiation. What makes your cafe\store\handyman\interior decorating/\studio more desirable than literally any other option on the internet?
If you can’t answer that, you need to take a long look at your business. Differentiation can be a point on the quality of product, the style of the service, the market you cater to, or a million other factors. The point is, you have to have something, because otherwise anybody else in your sector who also has that point could potentially reel in anybody who is shopping around.
3. What problems are coming over the horizon?
Getting complacent isn’t a good business strategy. Whenever you think yourself to be doing well, remember that Blockbuster was once on the verge of buying Netflix, and is now out of business. Markets change!
Do market research, check out your competitors, and always (always!) be looking to the future. Stick to your five year plans, but deviate from the short or medium if there’s unavoidable shifting coming over the horizon.
4. Am I visible?
The next question is how people are finding your business. If you’re a cafe on Main Street you might not have much issue, but each business has to put themselves out there or risk stagnation.
If you’re an internet-based store front and your SEO isn’t up to scratch, you’re missing out on valuable customers who might not even know you exist (if you’ve never heard of SEO, then get started ASAP). Know your consumers’ habits at a demographic level, and reach out to them in the ways that are most likely to convert them to customers.
5. What’s my media strategy?
Piggybacking onto the last one; social media is important. It’s important enough to warrant it’s own point separate to traditional marketing, and it’s one of the biggest differentiation factors in business success (especially for niche industries).
If you don’t have a website, Google map location, Facebook, and mobile phone number, people will either see nothing when searching for stores in the area, or go to a third party site where your products could be misrepresented. Doing absolutely everything you can to be at the forefront of your target market’s mind is very important, and having a direct, clear and creative social media strategy is a great way to do this.
6. What’s not working?
While it’s hard to get rid of things you’ve sunk time and effort into, remember that eventually time and effort needs to be efficient. If you have things that aren’t working, consider reshaping, removing, or restructuring them until they do.
7. How is my business converting sales?
Upsales, loss leaders, and referrals are all things that you can do to increase your sales per customer. You can convert somebody who views your product into a customer through quality or through promotions, but ultimately, there must be one singular reason.
Try putting yourself into the shoes of a customer, and physically visit your storefront (or virtually visit your eCommerce store) and pretend to go through the motions of shopping. What stands out to you and what do you want to buy? What do you not want to buy that you thought was appealing from your own business perspective? Reflecting on why is the next vital step.
8. Do I need to grow?
There’s no comfortable middle ground for business size – either you have too many customers, or not enough. If you want to grow, you have to actively pursue growth. What are you doing to increase your customers, or, what are you doing to grow your potential to cater to more customers if you currently have too many to handle?
9. What am I doing right?
One of the hardest things to notice is what things are working extremely well, and when to not touch them. Things can always be improved, but attempting to innovate on a working concept might not work and could be costly in resources. Worse, it could be less successful with customers as a result! As the old saying goes, sometimes it’s better to not fix what isn’t broken.
10. Am I consistent?
Your entire customer experience should be consistent, from the second a customer notices you, to them paying for their purchases, whether this be in-store, online, or via invoice for a service. Your business model should reflect your user experience or interface, which should affect your marketing, which should affect your branding, your storefront, and even your colour scheme.
Put together a portfolio of precisely what you want a customer to experience, and begin immediately making sure that every single even minor thing reflects that.
Reflecting and taking steps to be a better business owner
Being a business owner is no easy task, and it’s vital to make sure you are always researching, reflecting, analysing and innovating methods for making your business better. Whether this be through streamlining delivery processes, making sure your marketing is consistent across all platforms, or knowing when to let a certain aspect of your business just run it’s course… Taking a step back and looking at your business from the bigger picture is a great first step to improvement and growth.
If you’re worried that your business is in trouble, contact the business finance experts at Australian Debt Solvers today for a free consultation and put your mind at ease for the future.
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