Questions Every Small Business Should Ask

Small businesses should always ask questions of themselves. You might ask how you can increase your profit margin. You might ask how you can communicate better with your customers. You may try to find new customers. There are always ways to boost the bottom line and asking questions about your goals, your customers and challenges your company faces is a great place to start.

What challenges are you facing?
With 4 out of 5 new businesses failing within the first 5 years, I think it’s safe to say that we all face challenges on a day-to-day basis. Major challenges many small businesses face include competing with large corporations, standing out from the competition and remaining profitable in a down economy. There are also smaller challenges businesses must overcome on a day-to-day basis like staffing the right number of workers, determining the most profitable hours of operation, keeping the right amount of product in stock, reducing overhead and increasing profits.

Truly understanding your customers and their buying behavior can help you with many of these challenges. By communicating with your customers you can find out what kinds of problems they have, what they think of your product, what they would like to see from you in the future, how often they buy your product and much more. Listening to your customers and learning from them can help make you one of the 1 in 5 that makes it.

What goals do you have?
Every business should set goals, especially for surviving your early years. You may want to establish a strong staff. You may want to expand into other states or countries. You may want to increase your product line. You may want to improve your customer rating. Think beyond just setting a dollar amount, but set goals to improve and grow your business that will actually help you achieve that dollar amount in the long run.

How can you stay fresh?
We all want to put more money in the bank. And with more and more products on the market every day, it’s important to stay up to date and fresh. You may try marketing a completely new product or simply an updated version. Either way it’s important to improve on past models. You might sell a candy with a nut in it instead of solid chocolate. You may design new computer cases that are more visually appealing. Or sometimes you don’t have to change the product at all. Sometimes simply changing the design, logo or packaging, like Coca-Cola has done over the years is enough to keep your product fresh.

How can you help customers?
The ultimate goal of any product or service is to solve a problem. You want to help your customers and become indispensable to them. Seth Godin, world famous marketer, always touts of how you should become indispensable to customers. If you are indispensable, you are worth more. Companies who give less value to customers do not survive economic downturns. Sony, for example, entertains customers with TVs and PlayStation and a variety of other electronics. IBM designs computers. Ford makes cars and trucks. Oil companies keep cars moving on the road. On the other hand, if 10 companies copied everything Ford or IBM did, the market would be glutted. The point is you have to be unique in what you do in some way. Even cookie companies find ways to differentiate themselves from others.

Can you expand?
Most small businesses want to expand, but the question is can you afford to. What will it really take? Think in terms of time and money. Will you need more space, more workers, additional stores or warehouses? Are you looking to expand into new regions, new states, new countries or are you looking to offer new products and services? What will you need and how will you accomplish these things? You will want to create leadership in your work force so you can focus on the bottom line.

Many of these questions are obvious ones. What is less obvious is the strategy needed behind them. In order to be successful, make it through the first few years or expand your business, you’ll need a unique marketing plan. Certain risks are of course involved; you just have to ask yourself, is it worth it in the long run and hopefully you will make it long enough to find out.

Comments

  1. L. says:

    This another question that I ask me every day: “Can I automate my bussines process?”

  2. A business has risks and with the ever changing technological landscape, a business owner should keep up with the new technology and the the generation of new customers.

    The questions above are helpful to assess ones strengths and weakness so you can compete with the market.

  3. Angela says:

    Being indispensable to the customer, being the one to solve their problems. Maintaining good relationships with customers, checking in with them from time to time, even after you have finished the job for them. Small Business is hard work but so worth it.

  4. Simon says:

    Brilliant post thanks, I couldn’t agree more the above points are so important to any small business. However one of the problems that I have found when dealing with new clients (many of which are small business) is they simply set their goals to high, which unfortunately this can be the down fall of many small business

  5. Hemang Dani says:

    Excellent share … I would as well add up 3 more points..

    1] How to balance growth and liquidity ?
    2] How to motivate employees towards goal ?.
    3] Should you have stringent policies or not ? In a small organization, There is more of a personal association then a corporate environment. Policies tend to get broken very frequently, Being Stringent can help ?

    Thanks Rob, It all helps.

    Good Day
    Hemang

  6. As an online entrepreneur myself, I think that the most important question is “How can you help customers?” because customers like when an entrepreneur takes care of them and demonstrates serious attitude to business, so my advice is – take care of your clients!

  7. Jerry Katz says:

    This post is very helpful for neophyte business owners who are just starting to setup their own business. Keep it up!

  8. paginas web says:

    I read through this article and found it to be very interesting. I think this can be a great way to improve small businesses. Internet marketing is a very good business to get into these days! Thanks so much for sharing this article!!

  9. A big reason why so many businesses fail is that they don’t concentrate on their current customers, rather they continue to go after new customers.

  10. A good few questions to ask yourself when setting up a new business. Thanks for the advice, much appreciated.

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