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  • Business Development: 9 Questions You Should Never Stop Asking as a Business Owner

    Brian Tracy, Business Development: 9 Questions You Should Never Stop Asking as a Business Owner

    As a business owner, here are some questions that you need to ask over and over, as your the market evolves and your strategic plan changes. Very often, the answers to these business development questions will change in response to evolving conditions. It is important that you change as well when it is necessary.

    1. What business are you in? What business are you really in?

    A typical business owner will answer this question by explaining the product or service that they sell. But this is not the business that you are in. The business that you are in is customer satisfaction. As a business owner, you must always define your business in terms of what your products or service does to improve the life or work of your customers.

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    You don’t sell life insurance; you sell peace of mind. You don’t sell cars; you sell safe, dependable transportation. You don’t sell houses; you sell safe, comfortable homes for families.

    In order to implement successful business development for your company, you must realize that customers’ wants, needs, desires, hopes and expectations are constantly changing, and you must change with them, or your sales, cash flow and profitability will suffer.
    2. What business will you be in the future, based on current trends?

    In business, the trends are everything. Which way is the market going for you today, and what changes do you need to make in your strategic plan to move with the market?

    What business could you be in if you were to change your product or service offerings in some way? What business should you be in if you want to be among the most successful and profitable businesses in your industry?

    Imagine that could wave a magic wand and make your business perfect in every way. What would it look like? Especially, how would it be different from today? These are questions that you must answer over and over again as a business owner. If you are wrong in any of these answers, your business can go sideways and your plan for business development could fail.
    3. Who is your customer? Your ideal customer? Your perfect customer for what you sell?

    You can’t hit a target that you can’t see. As the market changes, your ideal customer profile changes as well. You can tell if you have properly identified the ideal customer for what you sell if you have high sales, cash flow and profitability. If you do not, for any reason, you need to revisit this question. Who is my ideal customer?
    4. What does your customer consider as value?

    What does your customer want to enjoy or receive from your product or service more than anything else? What must your customer be convinced of in order to buy your product or service rather than that of someone else? The answer to this question is the core of your strategic plan for business development. It is the core of all of your marketing, advertising and selling activities.
    5. What do you do especially well?

    In what areas do you excel? What is your competitive advantage? What makes your product or service superior to that of any other competitive product being offered in your marketplace?

    As Jack Welch said, “If you don’t have competitive advantage, don’t compete.” As a business owner, your first responsibility when you start your business, and throughout your business life, is to develop and maintain a competitive advantage, an area of excellence in comparison with your competitors that your ideal customers want, need and will pay for. What is yours?
    6. What are your goals?

    You know the importance of detailed, business development planning 12-18-24 months ahead. Before you create a strategic plan of action, you must know the answers to the following questions: What are your sales goals for the next year, broken down by month, or even week and day? What are your goals for profitability? How much do you need or want to earn from your business activities? What are your growth goals? What percentage of market do you want to capture? The more specific and clear you are about your goals, the more likely it is that you will achieve them.

    Most of all, does everyone in your business who is responsible for achieving those goals know exactly what those goals are?
    7. What are the constraints on your business today?

    What is holding you back from achieving your goals of sales, cash flow, and profitability?

    Of all the factors that are holding you back from achieving successful business development, what is the biggest single factor, and what could you do to alleviate this constraint?

    In every business, there are limiting factors that determine the speed at which you achieve your goals. You must be absolutely clear about these constraints or limiting factors, and work continually to remove them. Sometimes the constraint can be a lack of sales. Sometimes it is the lack of skilled, qualified people. Sometimes it is the lack of capital for growth or expansion, or even operations.

    Here is one of those “brutal questions” that Jim Collins talks about: Why isn’t your business already as profitable as you want it to be? What’s the reason? Of all the reasons, what is the biggest single reason? Sometimes, asking and answering this question can be the push you need to trigger business development success.
    8. What are the 20% of your activities that can account for 80% of your results?

    What are the 20% of your prospects that can account for 80% of your sales? What are the 20% of your customers that account for 80% of your business? What are the 20% of things that you can do personally that can account for 80% of your results?

    You will always have limited resources of time, money and people. You must therefore allocate these resources carefully in order to get greatest return on your investment.
    9.  Based on your answers to above questions, what strategic plan of action should you take immediately? What should you do now?

    What should you stop doing? What should you discontinue altogether so that you have more time to work on those few things that can make an enormous difference in your business?

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