5 questions you must answer to plan your business' future
7 December 2016
Where are you going? 5 questions you must answer to plan the long-term direction of your business

There’s no denying that running your own business is tough, especially when you’re just starting out. But in the past year I’ve noticed a lot of business owners making it even tougher than it needs to be.

How? By not knowing what direction they want to take their business.

Rather than having a long-term goal for their business, they just focus on surviving another month (or in some cases another week). They’ve lost sight and they’ve lost direction. And in losing that they’re also losing customers.

Sound familiar?

To regain your focus and create a long-term plan for your business, you need to answer five important questions:

1. Who are your customers?

2. What issues do they have, and how do you solve them?

3. How do you deliver the solution?

4. Who do you need to operate the process?

5. How do you promote yourself to your customers?

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? But rather than basing your answers on where your business is now, you need to base your answers on where your business will be in three years’ time.

That’s right. Who will your customers be three years from now? What issues will they have? And how will you help solve them?

Yes, it makes answering the questions a lot tougher. But the answers could change the whole direction of your business. And if no-one else is bothering to answer them, you’ll be well placed to serve your customers’ needs when no-one else can.

1. Who are your customers?

I’m amazed at the number of businesses owners that don’t know who their customers are, or who only think of their ideal customer as “a good payer”. If you don’t know who your ideal customer is in terms of who they are, what they do and what they want, how can you possibly get their attention?

2. What issues do they have, and how do you solve them?

Most businesses try to sell their products by listing all their features. But here’s a better way to think about your products: What problems do they solve?

Not only will your products be more appealing to customers, you’ll also stand out in what may well be a crowded and competitive market.

We use a great tool called Features – Benefits – Benefits of Benefits, which helps you dig into the problems you can solve for your customer and better target ideal customers for your business.

3. How do you deliver the solution?

The best way to deliver your product or solution is to make it as smooth and seamless as possible. (I like the term frictionless.) Make your processes and communications as simple as possible for your customers so they consider it a pleasure dealing with you.

4. Who do you need to run the process?

One of the most important assets of any business is its employees. But they need to be the right employees. One bad egg can destroy your entire workplace culture.

Here at Advise we use Harrison Assessments as one of our tools for hiring team members. And over the years it’s proven to be invaluable. Find a tool or even a handful of questions to determine whether someone is the right fit for your business. Not only will your existing team members thank you for it, it will keep your workplace cohesion strong.

5. How do you promote your business to your customers?

As I said earlier, you should be promoting the benefits of your products, not their features. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s vital for the future of your business.

But where do you promote those benefits?

We believe the best platforms to promote businesses are Facebook and LinkedIn. I know one client who received $500k of work from a single LinkedIn post. And a recent business launch on Facebook has been hugely successful at getting exposure and new clients.

So, what happens when you answer all five questions and put your plan in place? Will the business become profitable? I certainly think so. After all, you’re now running a smarter business with a long-term focus. Better still you’re targeting the right customers and delivering outstanding products and services. How could your business be anything but profitable?

We’ve been helping businesses for a while now. And I’ve learned that giving them a guiding light on what’s critical today can help them to prepare and achieve long-term success.

Now it’s time to come up with your own answers to those five questions, find a new direction for your business, and create a plan for how to get it there.

And if we can help with any of these steps, don’t hesitate to get in touch.