1. Why are we in business?
Are you laying bricks or building a cathedral? The end result might seem the same, however it’s fundamentally different. Companies with a great vision will always do better than companies without one. A greater purpose is essential to not only inspire yourself, but your employees and customers too. People want to be part of something bigger and work towards a goal and a lack of vision or a goal will make your business less attractive to those around you and most importantly you and reflect in your results.
2. Do you have the right skill and mindset?
You need an education to become a doctor, nurse, lawyer and plumber. You need to pass a minimum standard to be allowed to practice in these fields, yet anyone can go ahead and open a business, with no questions asked at all. Opening and running a successful business is a skill and a complex skill set is needed to succeed. Working in a job and jumping into our own business are two separate skill sets. So don’t get dishonest with yourself. Be brutal and ask yourself are you qualified to be in business. If so your chances are success improve dramatically.
3. What value are you offering the world?
Consumers don’t care about you, your company, your dream or your profits or lack of it. They are about what you can do for them to make their lives better, easier or richer in some way. So answer this question why should they buy from you? And if your answer is’ better quality’ or ‘better service’, you are in serious trouble. Believe me the world does not need just another plumber, doctor, lawyer. The world needs a doctor who can cure cancer, treat Alzheimer’s and reverse strokes. Not a doctor who offers better service but offers no answers or solutions. The world does not need another lawyer or plumber. It needs a lawyer who will guarantee to win your case, or a plumber who arrives on time or you don’t pay. Get the picture?
4. Are your products world class?
Developing a product that is not only good but also far superior is not essential but critical in today’s competitive world. Not everyone can build a Rolls Royce but everyone can build a product that is better than average and strive to be the worlds best in its category or niche. Steve Jobs showed us how with the Apple iPhone and iPad. These products were so innovative that they have not only revolutionized Apple as a company but change the way people behave forever. Follow this example. Start with your product and ask yourself does this product sell itself it is so good. If not then it’s time to go back to the drawing board. Poor products are the number one reason businesses find marketing them so difficult. Sound obvious but look around and 99% of companies fail in this arena.
5. Are you tinkering or truly innovating?
Basic, I know but do you do this? You cannot, not afford to do this. Apple knows within months their competition will be copying their product innovations, so they innovate fast and have the Apple iPhone 5,6, and 7 well underway by the time they have launched the Apple 4 iPhone. If Apple knows this and they are a multi-billion dollar company then there a reason for it and you should too.
6. Are you a selling or relationship building organisation?
Consumers hate being sold to. They have seen it all and have inbuilt radar to run away from anyone who tries any of those old worn out sales and advertising techniques. People hate to be sold to yet love to buy. The only thing they love to do more than buy is buying from someone they like and trust. So develop all your marketing strategies around creating the preconditions for building systems that make it so consumer gravitates toward you and your business naturally through not only employing the above strategies but also not making selling your prime goal. Relationship building must be your priority and so build systems to automate this. Sales can then happen effortlessly. The best companies in the world do this without you, the consumer, even being aware of it. There are a thousand ways to do this, but the best way is to look for your customer and nurture them way before you intend to sell them anything at all.
7. Are you a one-night stand business?
Never build your business around a single transaction or single product. If you do this then business long-term success becomes impossible. Think about natural consumer behaviour. Normally one purchase leads to another. Are you ready to help your customer with the next natural purchase? How many times have you been into a business when you say to yourself, these people should also offer xx or yy. Its obvious but many businesses miss this completely and lose multiple profit opportunities.
8. Is your business your laboratory?
Often I get asked will this product or advert campaign work. Answer = no one knows for sure and sometimes common sense dos not prevail. Many great products or services were turned down or rejected by common sense yet turned out to be a blockbuster in the real market. A small relatively inexpensive test will do amazing things. It allows you with complete freedom to try some new things take some risks and succeed or fail fast and learn from it. Its through failure we find success. This is as true in marketing as it is in science. It’s a legitimate scientific approach to finding breakthroughs. Whatever marketing decision you are contemplating, test them and those that fail discard, those that work expand rapidly and then innovate and tests again.
9. Are your business projections realistic?
Sounds obvious again I know but I have seen so many business plans and models that just are doomed before the start. Business owners/managers make unrealistic projections and assumptions, based on what they think is possible, not what I is actually possible. This is like setting out to sea without a proper map and rations to sustain life. Why this happens is due to not enough research and testing of assumptions prior to using these assumptions to move forward with a project. This is fatal. If you see a failed business its almost guaranteed the assumptions made in the first place were over estimated.
10. Is your organisational marketing skill cutting edge?
I don’t care what business you are in, unless you contain or acquire first rate marketing skills with the organisation, you will under perform or simply fail to keep up with your competition. The world is an ever rapidly changing place and knowing how to adjust and move with these changes will keep you alive and strong as business organism but it requires a very strong marketing focus.
Best Business Coaching Questions by Brian Sher