Dianne Campbell, Business Mastery Expert
No matter what stage your business is at there are 6 Important Questions that you must answer. It does not matter if you are in the idea stage and phase, if your doors have been open for eight or nine years or you are somewhere in between. These are the questions that define the foundation of all you are.
You see, the recipe for Entrepreneurship is the same. For EVERYONE. What makes the recipe unique is what you, the business owner, bring to the table. The 6 Most Important Questions are where you start, what centers you and acts as a guide to all you do moving forward in Marketing, Promoting, Networking and more. It shapes how you show up about your business and where you put your time and money into growing your business. Clients and students are both intrigued and laugh at this, but once we dive in, the awareness and the focus becomes personal and unique to each business owner.
At one of my very first Business Mastery Workshops I had two individuals attending who were both in the same industry, with the same title and in the same niche. They were both doing the exact same thing! I knew this was truly a test of my belief and concept and while hiding a bit of a sweaty brow and a quiver in my voice, I also was curious how it would play out. Happy to report, it was empowering. It was exhilarating and it was valuable to both those attendees. They each left with a completely different plan for how they would strategically move forward in their business.
It is all about the Foundation.
If you build a house and you do not make sure the foundation is solid, you know what happens as time passes. The house has issues! Not tiny little maintenance issues, but BIG Issues. It is the same in business and it does not matter what your business is. You have to establish a firm foundation! Most business owners think they have done this work, and to give credit, many have, but maybe not deep enough or maybe something has shifted and changed and there is a need to answer the questions again.
Entrepreneurs are very aware that writing a Business Plan is a priority and a prerequisite for success. It is a necessity if you are seeking any kind of lending or funding. In today’s world, we have a wealth of resources and information available at our fingertips, but it can get confusing! Writing a Business Plan is intense and to be honest, it can be a tedious undertaking. Many have tried to write a plan on their own and many have failed. However, a Business Plan is your foundation!
Do you know if you answer each of these questions in depth, you have crafted the most important components of your Business Plan? It is why I take this approach – it makes it easier, it is less tedious, and it is a more personal approach! Ready to dive in?
QUESTION 1: WHO ARE YOU?
I know this sounds pretty basic and simple, but I want you to think about the last time you had a chance to network and promote your business – how did you answer that question?
Did you offer a solid, short, concise and intriguing answer? That is what you want… and you want to take the time to craft it, write it out, edit and tweak it. By defining WHO you are in this way your answer is automatic, authentic and fits into any situation.
This is important because as entrepreneurs we are always presenting our business – it is our passion and it is top of mind for all of us. Right? Making sure you know WHO you are and how to share it authentically, concisely and offering some intrigue is super important. It helps avoid sounding sales-ey!
QUESTION 2: WHAT DO YOU DO?
I love this question. This question is your time to shine and let your proud peacock feathers fan out! But what often happens is business owners stumble, trip over their lips OR go too deep into Sales Mode.
Again, your answer to this should be short and succinct. Can you share it in just 5 or 7 words? That is an exercise I do with clients so we get to the point and really answer the question. Try it!
When you have that answer, you can then easily move into conversation; maybe asking a question or making a second statement that creates curiosity. In person it is always emotional – you want to impact and ‘reach’ the person(s) you are talking with. In printed form this is much more static and educational, but also still offering emotion.
QUESTION 3: WHAT PROBLEM DO YOU SOLVE?
Every business solves a problem – it is why we have clients, customers and partnerships. YOU offer something that is needed. This is why you created your business, why you started and what you are really all about! Your business IS a solution and to more than one problem.
You should have 3-5 sentences written out and memorized that answer this question. Do you?
If not, please stop right here and take the time to answer this question.
QUESTION 4: WHO DO YOU SOLVE IT FOR?
This is your PERFECT AVATAR! THIS is you perfect client, your dream customer!
When you take the time to really define this, you are doing something magical. You are defining the audience you want, need and the people who have a problem that you solve. This puts you not only into business thinking, but service thinking! You are here to help – these are the people who need you and these are the people you get the greatest satisfaction working with!
Can you have more than one? Yes, but it is recommended that the fewer the better, especially if you are in business ideation and launch phase. Keep it to the lowest common denominator before spreading your wings – your mental intelligence and your pocketbook will thank you!
There are exceptions and some business models do have more than one Avatar. Let’s say your business is educational programs for youth. The youth are your client that you speak to and they have a problem you offer a solution for, BUT the parent or guardian is the BUYER! You are helping them also, but often need to speak to it in a much different way – focus on their outcomes as well and yes, they are a Perfect Avatar too.
QUESTION 5: HOW DO YOU SOLVE THE PROBLEM?
I hope you expected this question and were ready and waiting for it!
This is your business and you should have the following key points clearly defined. They should be written out and they should make sense and be in totally synchronicity with all your other answers. What is your product, service, solution? What are the OUTCOMES for your client? What PAIN are your addressing and getting rid of?
How or what makes you unique – what is your Unique Value Proposition?
It is my hope that you are seeing why these questions are the MOST IMPORTANT QUESTIONS every business must answer. These answers give you posture. Going deep determines your direction, your how to and where to for marketing and promoting. Without answering these questions, your marketing strategies will not have the focused direction they should.
Answering these questions IS how you create a strong foundation.
A strong foundation saves you time. Saves you money. You move forward with less overwhelm and take consistent, quality action steps. You are able to work ON your business instead of constantly working IN your business. For many, it is the answer to falling in love with their business all over again!
BUT what happened to Question #6?
QUESTION 6: WHAT IS YOUR EXIT STRATEGY?
I hear you and your thoughts are saying, but wait! I am launching, scaling and have years before….
And I ask you, “Before what??”
Before you retire? Before you hand the business down to your children? Before you franchise it out? Before you sell it off? Before you simply just close the door?
By answering this question at the start of your business or when planning how to grow and scale, your answer brings an enormous amount of value to the plan! What is your long term vision for your business? How will that happen? By asking and defining this, you set the course for strategic planning and marketing that works – reaching for your ultimate goal.
Your business touches people. How does your Exit Strategy affect them? Where will they go? Maybe that is not super important at this stage, but it is something to consider and it leads to another bigger, more important question.
WHAT happens to your business IF SOMETHING HAPPENS TO YOU?
Who can step right in and keep your business going, address your clients, manage your staff, control the flow of production, pay the bills?
Who is your trusted person in the event of an emergency that leaves you incapable, or even dead? I apologize for my bluntness, but we never address this and none of us knows, do we? And we need to. It is important. It is smart. And it offers peace of mind.
That is it! The final and 6th Most Important Business Question EVERY business should answer!
I have just one last thing to share and clarify for you.
Your Business Plan is not your Marketing and Strategic Plan. They are two very separate documents that many small business owners and entrepreneurs believe are one and the same. They are not. I will dive into that in another (much shorter) article…
Warmly and with great respect to you, the Small Business Owner,
Dianne works with small business owners ensuring the foundation of the business is strong, the pillars for success are defined and that all marketing and strategic planning has flow and productivity. Dianne believes small business is the cornerstone to our world and has a passion for seeing neighborhoods, communities and people find each other again.
Dianne consults, teaches and speaks. In her spare time she can be found diving into her other passions learning and exploring Human Design and the mindset/empowerment tools that benefit small business owners. She is a Disc “Editor-Stabilizer”, A Myers Briggs “INFJ”, an Enneagram “Creative” and a Human Design “Manifestor.” She is focused, intuitive, perceptive and her greatest joy is seeing others succeed.