Good morning, fellow solopreneurs! I have a question for you: are you asking the right questions?
To keep a small business growing, you sometimes have to make some tough decisions. But often I’m not sure which problem to address first! I’ve narrowed it down to 5 questions to ask myself when I’m trying to get my company out of a rut – or when I need to make a plan for the future. See if these help you:
Am I focused on tomorrow?
- Everything I do today, whether it’s a designing a website or choosing a promotional products vendor, affects my business tomorrow (and beyond!).
- My customer relationships are an investment in the future of my business, so I need to engage with them and support them.
- Focusing on today’s issues only narrows my vision. I have to keep in mind that my goals extend beyond whatever current crisis!
Is there an outside threat to my business?
- Any factor can change at the drop of a hat: customer preference, supply issues, distribution problems, new employees, competitor prices.
- I need to stay on the ball and be conscious of changes throughout my industry – and especially in the area of my target markets.
- Using the web (this blog, Facebook, email newsletter, etc.) I can reach my customers directly to stay current on their needs/wants.
Am I attracting the best staff?
- I’m always conscious that quality people = quality business. I have a few contractors, and I’ve recently hired a part-time designer to work with me.
- The way my staff interacts with my customers reflects on my company and on me, from how the phone is answered to how an email is composed.
- I try to hire the right people, with the right attitude, and show them my appreciation for the great work they do. The key to having a great employee is keeping them!
Are any of my regulars becoming irregular?
- I work with a lot of other small businesses, so I understand that sometimes you have to forego any new projects because of financial issues.
- But there might be other factors that influence my customers, so I need to stay in touch to keep track of true impediments.
- Could my marketing be more effective? Is the promotional products vendor sending out quality items? Is my price point in the right place?
What “dead weight” can I eliminate?
- When your business depends on communicating with people, it can be hard to be the “bad guy.” But if you have a small company, you can’t afford low performance!
- What am I keeping that I could get rid of? Out-of-date product listings? Pricey vendors? Is my business philosophy current and realistic, or should I rewrite my plan?
- If I ever find something that needs to go, I don’t ever make it a personal issue. These are business decisions, handled professionally.
I’ve been in business for 12 years, and Redwood has grown and expanded in that time. We do everything now! So I sympathize with other small business owners (and solopreneurs!) who occasionally struggle with their plans.
It really all comes down to making the best decisions for your company. So use these 5 queries, and try to be as realistic and professional as possible with your answers: sometimes a muddy situation becomes clearer when you ask the right question.