One of the best ways to find out where a small business is going is to ask its owner. So, get a mirror, sit down in front of it and start asking.
You’ll be amazed at how much this owner knows but just hasn’t taken the time to document. That’s what we’re going to do now.
John Dini is the president of Business Performance Network, Inc., and one of the best management minds I know. Recently, on my radio program, John revealed the best questions to ask as you conduct this exercise. Here are some of his questions, written as you should ask them, followed by my thoughts.
Question One: How much sales revenue do I plan to achieve next year?
The typical way to arrive at this number is to blend history with expectations, based on existing evidence and what you think about future conditions and organizational capability.
Question Two: What gross profit – the number and the percentage – do I need to achieve my sales revenue projection?
Gross profit is revenue minus cost-of-goods-sold. It’s the number from which you subtract operating expenses to determine net profit.
Once you’ve arrived at answers to these two questions, if you’re not happy with either one, ask the next question.
Question Three: What are the most important things I can do to achieve this performance?
Better marketing? More advertising? Better sales training? New products? Better online capability? Expand market penetration? Start with the one that delivers the most bang-for-the-buck.
Question Four: How will my personal role change by the end of the coming year?
Every year, business owners should fire themselves from jobs they no longer have to do and promote themselves to jobs only they can do. Delegation and professional growth is the key to management success.
Question Five: What is the most desirable personal goal I would like to make for myself?
If a Genie gave you one wish to make your personal life more fulfilling, what would it be? More family? More golf? More bridge? More fishing? More whatever-the-heck-I-want-to-do-whenever-I-want-to-do-it?
The reason the foregoing is long on questions and short on solutions is because only you have the correct answers. My job, and the purpose of this exercise, is to help you climb out of the trenches long enough to ask the owner of your business where it’s going.
Get that mirror, ask these questions, write down the answers and make it happen.
I talked with John recently on The Small Business Advocate Show about the steps you can take to successfully start your year - and it’s never too late to start! Take a few minutes to listen to our discussion and leave your comments. Listen or download.