The other day I read an article by Aron Brajtman on LinkedIn entitled: Are You Asking the Right Questions?. It was so pertinent to all of you starting and running a business that I asked if I could use it verbatim as a blog post. Aron generously agreed.
Business owners focus on the ongoing issues. They deal with problems, investment opportunities, and the creation of plans. Even their focus on growth is conducted in a similar manner. They ask questions and formulate answers to questions such as:
What is our market share?
What are our profits?
Are the sales up?
What is our employee turnover?
What’s our competition doing?
All of the above are legitimate questions and a necessary part of evaluating operational excellence. However to avoid being blindsided and to avoid a death blow to their business, that type of focus is necessary, but not sufficient. They also need to look around corners.
They have to ask:
- Who are we not serving and what services are they currently using?
- Who is providing those services?
- What do we not know about the consumers who are not buying from us?
- What is being invented/developed in other industries that may be a threat to us?
- What’s missing from the happy customer picture?
Those questions can reveal blind spots in your vision, and to eliminate these blind spots you need tools . Some of the tools include :
- Survey unhappy customers. Ask why they are unhappy.
- Find mavericks within your company and industry. They will often serve as an early warning system.
- Former customers; why did they leave and where did they go?
- Read blogs. They often reflect the pulse of the market.
- In general check the periphery of the industry for threats barely visible as yet.
- Measure the growth in your portion of the wallet share of a consumer; Is it growing or decreasing?
- Look for substitution potential for your service or product.
- Visualize the ideal future for your customers. What would they want if someone could give it to them?
- Where does friction occur currently between your business and your customers?
- Ask yourself; if we were starting from scratch, would we enter this business?
Your task: think about the things you should be asking your customers so that you don’t get blindsided.
Aron Brajtman owns an accounting firm whose mission is to revive “stuck” businesses and to turn them around.
For more information please go to www.abrajtman.com