The questions business owners should ask themselves can tell them all they need to know about whether their organization is healthy and prepared for growth, or whether they need to make changes to remove obstacles that are standing in their way.
Slow – or Grow? 5 Key Questions Business Owners Should Be Able to Answer
In a world where companies need to stay one step ahead of the competition to succeed, it’s important to ask yourself as a business owner “Am I obstructing or nurturing my business?” Here are five questions business owners should ask themselves, to find out whether they are helping or hurting their chances of business growth.
1. Does my business foster effective, open lines of customer communication?
Current and potential clients need more than just an option to comment on a social media post to voice their needs. Whether you’re a start-up or an established business, it’s important to both open up for discussion and listen to the conversations. Often times businesses fail because they do not listen to the needs of the customers not because they choose to ignore it, but because they never give themselves a chance to hear it.
A quote from the book Nail It then Scale It: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Creating and Managing Breakthrough Innovation, written by Nathan Furr and Paul Ahlstrom, asks: “Which would you rather do – talk to customers now and find out you were wrong, or talk to customers a year and thousands of dollars down the road and still find out you were wrong?”
2. Where are we headed next?
Complacency is something you can’t afford. In an ever-changing market place, no matter what your business is, anticipation is the key to success. As Helen Keller once said, “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”
Knowing where you want to go and knowing how to get there are two very different things. Certainly, without preparing for growth and setting goals you’re unlikely to reach your intended destination.
As a business owner, you certainly hope demand for your product and business will go up. It’s imperative to understand the projected need for your products as well as to answer the question ahead of time, “How will we meet this need?” Failure can sneak up on you quickly if you don’t have a plan. Depending on your business the plan will vary, but the basic idea to have in place is to set a goal, and draft out how to reach it.
You might also like: 6 Musts for a Business Year-End Checklist
3. Are we the Flintstones or the Jetsons?
Ok, so obviously no one is out there clocking into work using the tail of a colorful parrot after driving to work in their foot-pedaled stone age car, and certainly no one is flying in to work and dropping down through a tube into their desk chair. When deciding whether your company is more like the Flintstones or the Jetsons, the idea is to ask yourself, am I keeping up with the times to stay ahead, or am I making things painful for my clients and customers?
This is inclusive of all aspects of business including software programs, ways of communication, and most importantly technology. Not only does old technology drive people away (and not to mention sometimes insane), but it also leaves your business susceptible to viruses and being hacked. Keeping up with, or better yet, ahead of the times not only keeps your current clients stay satisfied, but also attracts new clients to your business.
One of the most important areas of technology to assess is your business’s POS (point of sale) process, whether this occurs online or off. Today’s customers anticipate seamless point of sale transactions that enable them to enroll in loyalty and rewards programs, set up or change account settings, automate payments for future purchases, generate automated responses such as downloads, send receipts directly to their email or mobile phone, and much more. A slow, complicated or clunky point of sale process can can dampen a customer’s enthusiasm for returning to your business in the future, cause them to abandon their cart before completing their purchase and even create sufficient frustration to result in a bad review for your business.
4. Are we connecting with our audience?
If you were a comedian, would you bust out a political commentary type of joke set about taking rifles away from cowboys for performances in the heart of Texas? Probably not. Plain and simple, the thing to remember in business is you can never forget who your audience is.
When asking yourself this question, make sure to evaluate if your message is too broad, too narrow, or just right. Yes, a broad message might reach more people, but it won’t resonate or be as effective as a narrow, targeted messaged that focuses on your main clientele. Especially if you have limited resources, focusing on getting your messages across in a streamlined fashion is a non-negotiable.
5. Is our ignorance really bliss?
They say if a tree falls in the forest it really does still make a sound. Well, as a business owner, you can’t really afford to test out that theory.
Listening to the pains of your customers might sound like a task easy to avoid, especially if business is booming. However, before you know it that boom could turn to bust if the needs of your clients are not addressed.
Understanding the needs and pains of your customers will help you reinvent your marketing and product strategy to ensure you are always making it happen for your clients, sometimes even before they even know they need it.
Is your company speeding up or slowing down? Status quo is a fallacy; you’re either gaining ground or losing it, every time you flip your sign from “Closed” to “Open” to start the day. Make sure you understand your goals and keep them in the forefront of even day to day operations.