One of the initial mistakes many entrepreneurs make is believing that they can achieve all of their goals without reflection. As mentioned in an earlier post, frequent journaling about your career, productivity, or business can help you achieve your goals. In order to improve the performance of my small business, I frequently ask myself the following questions to determine the strengths of my decisions, whether or not I need to revise my business strategies, and embrace my biggest fears in my business. Add this practice to your daily routine as an entrepreneur. My favorite questions are:
- What are the strengths in what I am doing as an entrepreneur, manager, or CEO? I’m a firm believer in working with and recognizing your strengths as a focal point of reflection. Acknowledging what you do well will help you address and face your weaknesses more effectively. Additionally, you need to address your different roles as an entrepreneur, manager of employees, and CEO. Where are you succeeding here?
- What opportunities spring from these strengths? Consider this a daily version of SWOT lite. You need to see the patterns and trends of what you can manipulate as an advantage in your business.
- What has become difficult and inefficient? This is a difficult question to answer. As entrepreneurs, we tend to create operating systems and methods that work for a period of time, yet fail to recognize when they have outlived their usefulness. It’s smarter to keep tabs on what’s not working on a daily basis as opposed to adhering to failing methods for weeks, months, and years.
- What can be done to make the company more efficient and effective? Start with the observations as initial insights, and reflect on comments from workers, customers, and vendors. How can you make the company more effective for the people you serve?
- If it is difficult and/or inefficient, should it be given to someone else(manager, employee, hire a service or contractor)? Perhaps one of the most difficult transitions from a startup entrepreneur to a settled corporation is the understanding that settled businesses need specialists to handle tasks. You may have handled many aspects of the business in the startup phase, but need to hire others to take care of those tasks now. Now it’s time to ask some tough questions.
- What did I accomplish today? Bragging rights! List all of your accomplishments, especially in each role you play in your corporation. What did you accomplish as a manager, business owner, coach? Write it down and be proud of what you’ve achieved.
- Are my goals and mission statements apt, timely, and relevant? As a coach, I have found that far too many business owners and managers simply set goals for the sake of having them. This unfortunately creates problems for employees and companies because they don’t see a firm direction for the corporation and/or department. Reflect on the 90 day, quarterly, and yearly goals you established in the past year. Are they still relevant? Are your daily actions and plans focused on your larger goals? If the answer is no, you need to spend some time adjusting your strategy.
- What lessons did I learn as a result of problems or setbacks today? Smart entrepreneurs see the opportunity in setbacks, whether it’s room to build a skill, acknowledge a flaw, or change course. Instead of looking at obstacles as permanent obstacles or indications of major character flaws, seek to learn and change from these issues.
- What should I spend more of my time? Let’s get real. We all know that part of your business that you’d rather get root canal than handle. It’s going to catch up with you. Eat the frog and prioritize more time doing the things you’d rather avoid.
- What are my biggest fears about my business, and what should I do about them? Starting a business isn’t for the faint of heart. Are you losing revenue, scared of new competition, or just burned out? Be honest here and start brainstorming ways to cope. If I notice a reoccurring theme in your fears, consider whether or not you need resources to address these problems. Creating a plan of action and investing in coaching, new services, or addressing these issues with staff can do a lot to alleviate these fears.
I use these questions to assess my business every workday, and it’s been instrumental in facilitating growth, strategies, and efficiency. While you don’t have to commit to all 10 questions every day, answering these questions at least once a week will make a huge difference in your business or department. Try it for 90 days and chart a new course!