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Know Your Business! - 7 Key Questions You Must Ask

You need to know all that is going on around you to be successful in business, whatever the size of your organization. Yet how do you keep all those plates spinning? Here are just 7 quick and easy questions for your checklist - use them and they will serve you well. Use them and your business will develop and grow.

  • How am I Doing?
    Getting under your own skin is the first and most vital thing you should find out about. You are the bellweather of your business or team. If you are truly honest about how you are doing, then you will know -- you will really know, how everything else is. Checking the work you are doing fully aligns with your personal values will enable you to be committed, or not. If you are feeling down and unhappy, why is that? Is it fixable or not? If not, find something different. This is a one-off life you have. If it is fixable, you need to be very realistic, honest and focused about your actions to come. Your gut is a great measurement of your business.

  • How are My People?
    Finding ways to get deep with your own feelings first, then stimulates your own senses about the people around you. Ask them lots of open (what, who, how, where, when, why) questions and let them talk. Listen hard and follow-up. These people are vital to you, so find out about them, deep down. As you build relationships with them that are open and rewarding, they will start to help you more. Contribute more. The organization will evolve into a wonderful supportive, generative place.

  • What are my Standards?
    Every leader or manager needs to have clarity about what he is expecting from others in his or her organization. Working with your people to create an agreed set of standards for the way you work and the 'rules' within which you operate is vital. Deciding these by collaboration is even more exciting - everyone pulls together to get this clear. Even if you work mainly alone, what are your internal standards? Have you thought about creating them, as your own business working template?

  • How is our Performance?
    What measures have you to judge how well your business is doing? Who is doing the counting? Almost all meaningful performance measures can be calculated by numbers. It's called being SMART
    • Specific -- What is it we are reviewing here. Be very clear?
    • Measurable -- what are the numbers we can count?
    • Agreed -- is it something that everyone is signed up to in the organization?
    • Realistic -- is this a viable thing to be aiming for in the time we have?
    • Timescaled -- and what is the period of time over which we are checking?

  • What are the Competition Doing?
    The outside world will always impact on your place of business, wherever you are, real or virtual. Developing your senses to sniff out changes is a challenging quality. But it is learnable. Like the guy who buys a red car and then sees them everywhere, you too can spot the opportunities and threats to your business just about anywhere. Be open to the possibilities. Fine tune your senses. Talk to your people about it too - they multiply your radar many-fold.

  • Who are my Customers?
    Knowing all about your customers is a must. It's always a tough call as to whether customers or staff are the most important to a business. Truth is, they are both vital. Be with your customers, talk to them often. Get to know and understand them well. Again, develop your senses to 'smell out' things you need to understand better. Things you and your team need to evolve. Remember, the customers who talk to you are a fine asset. They are your telescope to what your business is all about. Use complaints as a celebration! With them you have the opportunity to make progress. They are a gift! Look at your business through the eyes and ears of your paying guests, your customers. What do you see? Is it good or otherwise. Be ruthlessly honest.

  • What's Next?
    Once you've answered everthing about now, what are your plans for the future? Where next for your business. The world is moving at a pace -- so what are you doing to not only keep ahead, but accelerate? What are the opportunities you've spotted? What is the process for taking things forwards?
    Here are just 7 little questions to get you started -- and a few more along the way ;-). This is a template for your success; your people's success and your business's success.

    Martin Haworth is a Business and Management Coach. He works worldwide, mainly by phone, with small business owners, managers and corporate leaders. He has hundreds of hints, tips and ideas at his website,

    ...helping you, to help your people, to help your business grow...

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