Every business is different, but the foundations of every business are very similar. Answering these 6 seemingly simple questions should expose any weaknesses in the foundations of your business.
- Why should customers buy from me rather than my competitors? If you cannot answer this question from the perspective of your customers, is it any wonder you are awake? When your product is the same as everyone else’s, price is the only discriminator. So you need to find a combination of a market niche of some kind and a value proposition that your product delivers. The combination is sales fuel. Be different distinctive, remarkable.
- How do potential customers find me? Most marketers ask themselves, how do I find new customers, but the question is better asked as how do new customers find me, reverse engineer the journey a potential new customer goes through in their journey to find a product then insert yourself into the process. Again, another false assumption made by marketers is that the poor customer, when they see the ad, or read the social feed, will rush out to buy the product. Nonsense. Even the hottest of prospect has a process they go through that ends up at a point in time when they are ready to buy, and usually the marketer has little ability to influence them at that time, consumers make up their own minds, particularly now as they have access to all the information they need. Customers do not need marketers to give them the necessary information in the way they used to in the past. To be successful, you must have a process that brings in a consistent flow of good leads that can be converted into sales in a predictable manner.
- How am I spending my time? Time is the one non- renewable resource we all have, and it is limited. Every person on earth has the same 1,440 minutes available to them every day, it is how we use them that counts. Reviewing the expenditure of this time against your personal, professional and commercial objectives is a precondition to success in any of the three areas. Remember the old urgent but not important, important buy not urgent equation.
- How is what I am doing adding value? Adding value to someone, even if it is yourself when reading a book is what life is about. Are you expending enough effort during the time you spend on various activities, or are you just coasting. My daughter was an elite gymnast, one of the best few in the country, in an unforgiving sport. Part of what became her modus operandi is the capacity to concentrate with absolute intensity for periods, then relax, stretch and go again. I watched her while studying for her several degrees, her concentration would be absolute for 15 minutes, followed by 30 seconds of a lift of her head, stretch, then another 15 minutes, and this would go for 2 or three hours at a stretch then she would walk around, read a book, and really relax for a while before moving into the next thing.
- Are my stakeholders aligned? This question is usually limited to employees, but these days, you also have to consider contractors, financiers and suppliers. These latter stakeholders are as important as employees, and harder to align simply because you do not hold the power of ”employment’ over them, you usually need them more than they need you.
- How is my cash? Cash is business lifeblood, run out and you are dead. Make sure you do not run out, by forecasting the flow of your cash and managing operations appropriately.
When you can answer all these questions easily, you should be able to sleep well at night.