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10 Smart and Savvy Small Business Questions for 2011
By A. Michelle Blakeley
Before you start the New Year, make a quick analysis of your current business condition so that you can make the appropriate adjustments. Review every aspect of your business so that you are clear about your position, how and why you got here and where you should go from there.
1. Where have you been? Before you can look forward, you have to look back. Good or bad, history tends to repeat itself. Sometimes the old adage is true, if you keep doing what you've been doing, you'll keep getting what you've been getting. However, when you are not prepared to adjust to change, you get left behind. Get clear about what your priorities and objectives are, know where it is you need to be and how to get there.
2. Who or what received most of your time, energy and resources? Have you been busy or productive? There is a difference. Busy work simply passes time. Productive work generates results.
3. Have you allowed individuals or clients to deter you from your goals, objectives and priorities? Take the time to cut the fat and work on establishing a pattern of discipline and correct poor business habits.
4. What are your clients' current needs? In the small business world, things change fast and the only thing clients are loyal to is ensuring their needs are met. How are you keeping up with the changing needs of your clients? When is the last time you asked your clients "How can I help you take your business the next level?" or "How can I be of better service to you?" or "What am I doing really well at?" or "What can I improve on?"
5. Who can help you get to the next level? Real conversations cultivate real relationships. Developing a solid foundation of powerful connections can grow your business fast and effectively. Know how and when to ask for help. Social media is only a means for introductions. You have to put forth the effort to turn those introductions into relationships and then into opportunities. Everyone is only 6 degrees of separation away from the one person who can turn their business around.
6. What received the least amount of your time, energy and resources? Avoiding those things that you don't want to know, do, admit to or need to change can stifle and eventually destroy your business. Not to mention you are missing out on a golden opportunity to LEARN. The wisdom is in the journey. With each dreaded task or fear you face, you empower yourself to be stronger and more confident to face the next one.
7. How can you make better business decisions? Decision paralysis and information overload plagues many small business owners. However, overcoming them is not as hard as you would think. Knowing your purpose, your priorities, your ideal client and your capacity keeps you armed and prepared to make quick judgments on how new ideas, thoughts, etc. fit into your bigger picture.
8. What facet can I improve? How are you honing your business skills? Are you seeking wise counsel, attending workshops and conferences, reading business books, acquiring professional certifications, etc. You can only rely on your current knowledge for so long. Keep your skill set, your awareness and principles current and up to date. Commit to improvement and never be satisfied with your current level of knowledge.
9. How will I measure progress? You won't know how far you've come until you know where you've been. How will and do you measure success and progress? Be specific and realistic. Lofty goals can be burdensome just thinking of them. Make sure your goals are measurable and check your progress at least once per month so that you can make adjustments and changes where needed.
10. How can you be prepared for being in the right place at the right time? Plan appropriately and allow for flexibility. Practice business discipline. Be consistent. Be clear and concise. Your power is not in the number of connections, but in your relationships. Never be afraid to ask for help.
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About the Author
For over 18 years, Simplicity Mastered™ founder and CEO A. Michelle Blakeley has owned or managed small businesses and nonprofit organizations. Expert in her field, Blakeley personally guides her clients out of their Business Brain Freeze™ to streamline operations, increase return on investment, and attain quantifiable results. Forbes.comand FinancialPost.com each recommended her as one of 30 Women Entrepreneurs to Follow on Twitter, joining the experts who know that Blakeley is a master at growing small businesses...and doing it with "Simplicity."
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