Howard Lewinter is a business strategist and advisor to CEOs, presidents and business owners throughout the United States. Businesspeople seek Lewinter’s advice to solve problems, regarding everything from daily decisions to opportunities for more success, more profit and less stress. Visit talkbusinesswithhoward.com.
As a CEO, president or business owner, your business day goes by rather quickly, doesn’t it? You start your day early in the morning, sometimes before dawn. You hardly have time to think about what is for lunch. The next time you look up, it’s near dusk and time for you to call it a day. You bring work home to review before going to sleep.
Business never stops, so neither should business profits. You should always be thinking about how to improve business results at your company. You should be asking the right questions until you are satisfied with the answers and ready to make decisions with which you are comfortable. Look to the following 12 questions to help improve your business.
1. What is keeping my business from achieving more success?
It is important to understand how the business started, how you led the company in those early startup days and to acknowledge the success you have experienced. As the phrase goes, always remember where you came from, in order to understand where you are currently. Then ask, “What has changed?”
2. What is preventing better business results?
You need to understand what is holding you back as a business leader. What is no long working as it once did? Once you recognize the challenges of what has changed or is different in your business, you can begin to do something about it. But until it is defined, nothing can really happen. Successful CEOs, presidents and business owners don’t just do “stuff.” Take an action-oriented, strategic approach.
3. Am I open? Are you open to listening to what you need to hear?
A CEO was at a conference talking to another businessperson who asked him a question. The answer rocked him back on the heels of his shoes. Why? Because it gave him information that could help improve profits at his company. He wasn’t expecting what he heard, but he was open to the words presented to him. If he hadn’t been listening well, the information would have gone right by him. Business answers can show up when you least expect them, from anywhere and anyone.
4. How do I have a better business next year?
To have a better year and improve your business, start with changing the way you think about your business today. It is the key to more success, more profit and less stress. Make each day better than the previous one. The days and weeks turn into months. Build on the momentum of each day. If you have a bad day, get up the next morning and move forward.
5. How much revenue do I project bringing into the business?
You can’t just say, “I want to make a million dollars this year!” Break it down. What’s realistic? Work backwards. Start with the goal; start with a number. Then determine a plan to get there. Review and revise the numbers. Sometimes, it’s better to be more profitable and productive than to increase sales volume to unrealistic numbers that the company isn’t prepared to handle.
6. What is my business about?
Your business isn’t about you, although you may be its CEO, president or owner. It’s about your customers and your employees. Business is about people involved and the relationships you build with them. It is also about solving problems and helping others succeed.
7. What about my employees?
To improve your business, surround yourself with the best people. Hire first for attitude, then talent, skills and education. Hiring the right people will make your life less stressful. Reducing your stress levels will only benefit your business. Create a company culture in which people want to work with you as clients, employees, vendors and associates.
8. Who am I?
To improve your business results, you need to know who you are as a person and as a CEO, president or owner. Who are you to the people you work with every day? What do you represent to others? It is about your leadership skills. How do you lead your company to more success and more profit? Do you dodge the important issues, or do you put yourself in a position where you are right there to take care of whatever may arise?
9. What about my competition?
Business opportunities are vast. Keep your mind open to business possibilities. That is why it’s critical to know who you are as a businessperson and what your company represents to customers. Business success is about will, drive and determination. Being two steps ahead of the business competition is important, as is being aware of trends in your industry and marketplace. Business is often won by more than just price. What value does your product or service provide? Be proactive. If you are not, your business competition will be.
10. What am I missing in my business?
The answers are not always found at the surface, so you will often need to dig deeper to improve business results. Always be asking questions. If you’re not doing enough business, ask yourself why. If your company isn’t as productive as you would like, ask yourself why. If you have an especially successful customer account, ask yourself why. You will find the answers to the questions. Keep your mind open to the answers. If you don’t find the answers you are seeking, then find an expert who can help you. It could be someone inside or outside of your company, depending on the issue or question. It’s okay to ask for help, even as a business owner.
11. What did my company sell today?
Prospecting is everything. Having the targeted prospect to sell something to is everything. If you don’t have the right prospect and you are not creating new prospects consistently, you won’t sell enough just waiting for customers to come to you. In today’s marketplace, no matter how much business you have, you cannot wait for the customer to come to you. How are you going to stay in business long term? It’s about delivering the right message to the right prospect, at the right time. It doesn’t matter what your company sold yesterday, last week or last month. It only matters what is sold today.
12. What is my strategy to improve business profits?
You are in business to make a profit. It requires strategy to be successful in business. This includes actively thinking about sales, marketing, ongoing job projects, operations, accounting and hiring. All these specific strategies combine into an overall business plan. Remember to:
- Think through business strategies
- Keep an open mind to opportunities
- Strategies often need revisions to produce intended business results
- Consider about potential outcomes
- Your strategy is to make a business profit, make the company better, the customers happier and to reduce your stress levels
No matter how successful you are, you can be more successful. Use these 12 questions—and your answers to each of them—as a guide to continue to improve your business results and inspire what steps to take next. Most of all, believe in your potential.