Seven questions every business owner should be able to answer
From Northwoods Commerce magazine
By Scott Francis
In the heat of the battle it is easy to take your eye off of the ball. When you are putting out fires and trying to take on opportunities as they come, you can easily lose sight of the big picture. Periodically it is helpful to push back and reflect on some of the key success drivers for your organization that will really make a difference in its long-term success.
Here are seven important questions to ask:
Do you know what your unique selling/value proposition is?
What makes you unique and distinctive from all of the other companies competing in your market? What have you done to differentiate yourself from all the others in the pack? If all your competitors offer similar products at similar prices, what will make you stand out in your target customer’s mind? What is it that your organization does or offers that your competitors will not or cannot offer?
What do you really sell?
If you operate a bar, do you sell beer and liquor or are you really selling a place for customers to come relax and enjoy the company and conversation of, and opportunity to meet, other like-minded people? If you run a small grocery store, are you selling food or are you providing a convenient service that saves people time and makes their lives easier? If you sell tools, are you really selling drill bits or are you selling the solution to making holes faster, easier and more accurately?
What does your brand stand for?
What is your brand known for? Just like people, brands have personalities. Brands develop reputations over time that can be either good or bad. Since your brand’s reputation precedes your product offerings, what is it saying about your organization and products? Do you have the right reputation among the people and potential customers you care about the most? Do your potential customers even know anything about you or have any opinion of you?
Who are your best customers and what are they worth?
How often do your customers buy? How much do they buy when they do? How many customers do you have? What does a good customer generate in sales over the course of a year or lifetime? How are your best customers different from average customers and why? How many of your customers would recommend you to other prospective buyers?
What does it take (and cost) to get a new customer?
Where do your best leads come from? What does it cost to generate a lead? How many of your leads turn into sales? How many of your sales turn into repeat customers? Where is the best place for you to find new customers? What are your competitors doing to try to take your customers away?
Can you summarize what you do in one sentence?
Do you have the ability to communicate the value your organization offers in one or certainly in just a few sentences? Can everyone in your organization repeat the same mantra? Does everyone in your organization understand the value you offer to your customers? Do all of your communications reflect the same consistent message? Does this message reflect your unique selling proposition and what you really sell, and the personality of the brand?
How do you measure success?
If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. What metrics are you using to measure the key success drivers of your business? Are you just measuring results or the lack thereof after the fact, or do you have programs in place to measure the key drivers that help generate success for your business or organization? For example, if leads, sales presentations delivered and close rates determine sales success, are you measuring and do you know where you stand on those activities or are you just tracking sales?
Asking and answering these questions, then monitoring and improving how your organization stands in relation to your goals for these questions will help you keep an eye on what is really important for the success of your business. Obtaining internal consensus to the answers to these questions and sharing results openly on an ongoing basis with everyone in the organization will make your job easier and more productive.
About the author – Scott Francis is president of Topline Development LLC, a strategic marketing consulting group that helps companies determine how they can make the most amount of money with the least amount of resources. To learn more about Topline Development LLC, visit their website at ToplineDevelopment.com or contact Scott directly at Scott@ToplineDevelopment.com.