Business owners have had a lot of questions on their mind recently, like how will Covid-19 impact my operation, when will we return to normal, and what should I be focusing on while the Australian economy is effectively in hiatus?

But the reality is, even in a normal business operating environment, enterprise owners should regularly ask questions, both of themselves and their business. Why? Because when we ask questions, we begin to better understand our business, our customer and ourselves.

Here are five of the top questions every business operator should regularly ask.

What business do I want to be in?

If you have an established business this might sound like a strange question, but it’s an important one that is worth revisiting regularly. Sometimes the business we operate isn’t the business we expected to be in at all, or the item we are actually selling is different to what we believe.

For example, the day-to-day life of a real estate agency might involve selling houses but the core proposition of that operation is actually trust.

So ask yourself, what business do you want to be in? Is it trust, convenience, time saving, aspiration, or lifestyle – is it something else?

When you know what business you are in, it helps you better understand the business proposition you are marketing, and assists in determining the products or services that fit that bill.

It also allows you to better embrace the right staff to represent your business and it helps answer the next question, which is…

Where to from here?

If you’re always looking in the rearview mirror, you don’t have full focus on the road ahead, which is why business owners should frequently ask themselves: where to from here? Where do I want to be in 12 months, five years and a decade? How will my business service those plans, and what do I need to do right now to achieve those goals.

Business planning (considering where to from here) is essential throughout the life of an operation – regardless of whether you’re in your first year of business or your fortieth.

Importantly, this question should take in your current business landscape, factoring in strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Is there a better way?

Whether it’s adopting technology, employing additional staff or running your business under management, asking yourself whether there’s a better way of doing business allows you to evaluate how you do business now and seek improvements for your products, your services and your bottom line.

It ensures you’re moving with the times and meeting your goals, by revisiting your systems, procedures and the day-to day operation of your business.

How are we doing?

This is a question to put to your customers, and it’s one that business owners fail to ask often enough. By seeking feedback from your clientele, you can identify areas in a business which fail to live up to expectation, where improvements can be made, and where product lines or services can potentially be developed.

Am I happy?

A business should facilitate your lifestyle not dictate it, which begs the question: are you happy? Do you find joy in your work, does it give you pride, does it provide the lifestyle you hoped for and does it meet the personal goals you set?

If the answer is no, that’s a clear sign you need to:

  1. Re-evaluate your business, look at the bottom line and consider how it services your lifestyle
  2. Reconsider your business plan and look at how it can get you where you want to be
  3. Revisit why you entered business in the first place, and look at whether it’s still a challenge you’re happy and enthused to meet. If not, what needs to change?

The value of questions

By regularly questioning the achievements of business, our role within it, and its role within our greater goals in life, we better understand what motivates and drives us, and the steps we need to take in order to succeed.

Questioning keeps business relevant and ensures business owners remain invested in their enterprise, because as Eugene Ionesco once said: “It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question.” 

If you find yourself without answers to the big questions of your business, I’m available to assist.

You can tap into the wealth of resources available by following my Business Conversations podcast or alternatively reach out directly to me here.