It’s the beginning of a new year: an exciting opportunity for new levels of growth and success for your company. But only if you know the right questions to ask- and answer- of course. Without further ado, here are the top 10 questions every business owner seeking growth should ask in 2014. The resulting self-examination will undoubtedly lead to big things for your business. Happy New Year!
1. Do you want a Maserati or Rolls Royce? (Just kidding, Mark!) What is your business going to look like three years from now?
2. What products or services should you focus on selling/offering?
3. Who will your customers be?
4. How will you successfully market yourself?
5. What are the unique attributes of your business? (How do you differentiate yourself?)
6. Where will you be located? (How many locations will you have?)
7. What will your profits be?
8. Will you expand nationally or internationally?
9. Will you grow your team?
10. Will you franchise, go public or sell?
The answers to these key questions depend on three critical factors:
• How fast is your company growing?
• How quickly is your industry evolving? (What is the state of your industry?)
• What is the current strategy of your competition?
Through this process of business self-analysis, you’ll be creating a Strategic Objective for your enterprise. I typically advise the business owners I work with to create (and revisit) this document every year. Doing this will ensure you’ll remain not only competitive but focused on your specific goals, and well equipped to reach them.
In essence, your Strategic Objective paints a clear picture of what your business will look like at a predetermined (by you) point in the future. It could be next year at this same time or three years down the road. Typically, it’s the end of a natural stage of development such as maximum growth in a facility, market domination in a specific area or the completion of a large, company-wide project. It shouldn’t point so far ahead that it’s “guessing” but rather be related to the measurable and identifiable answers to the questions above.
Keep in mind that a big part of your success in this process will be tied to your ability to clearly take stock of where your business is currently at. How well can you identify your strengths and weaknesses and the current ‘shape’ you’re in? How do you compare to your competition? What are your gross revenues? Profit margins? Do you have a useful set of key performance indicators? What is your market share? How can you improve your internal systems? Does your team understand and represent your brand?
Without a doubt, this is a significant undertaking! It requires a lot of foresight and – to be successful, here – a deep understanding of both your industry and your capabilities. I guarantee there isn’t a single more worthwhile way to start your 2014.