We’re beginning this series on the 23 Most Important Questions to ask according to a long-time writer for Forbes. I wanted to start this as our new series because I’ve read that about half of all new business fail within the first few years. This might be because we, as small business owners, are not asking ourselves and others around us the right questions. I want your business and mine to succeed and thrive, don’t you? If you have a small business in Colorado, you and I are in the same boat, so even if you’ve been in business for a while, these questions are a good refresher course!
We’ll take these 2 at a time:
- How committed am I?
I feel like this is a great place to start for a couple of reasons. First of all, we just finished off our last series by talking about the importance of having a “never quit” attitude during the first few years of business. And, secondly, I love this question because it requires brutal honesty, which is sort of my jam.
If you have a never quit attitude, you are – in a sense – committing to stay married to your business…at least for a while. It means you can’t just give up at the first sign of adversity. It means you DETERMINE that “quit” is a dirty word that you won’t even think about, much less speak or act on. If you’re not willing to put that kind of commitment forward for a set amount of time – let’s say 3 years – then maybe starting and owning your own business is not the right fit for you.
And that is the brutally honest truth that you’ll have to face. Dreaming about it, making plans for it, buying equipment for it – that’s all fun stuff that happens relatively fast. It’s when you’re sitting in your new fancy shop for DAYS waiting for just one human being to enter that tends to take the wind out of your sails. It’s when it’s been a year but you still only have 3 loyal customers – not enough to hire employees and not enough that you can quit your other part-time job - THAT’S when owners are tempted to quit. So, really count the cost – can you push through the mundane and financially strapped first few years? If you can give a definitive “yes” on that, congrats! You’re now an entrepreneur!
- What’s my value proposition?
This is a fancy way of saying “Why would anyone want to buy my product or service?” You need to be ready for an answer to this because if you really have a passion for a niche market like bible stories painted on seashells, but there’s not really much of a market for that, maybe that just needs to be your personal hobby – not a business. Or – maybe the market is flooded with something very common like toilet brushes and you come out with one that has a slightly different handle, but that’s it. Since you don’t differ much from your competition, it’s gonna be really hard to break into the toilet brush game, isn’t it?
There’s a thing that marketing gurus teach, called an elevator speech. If you have more time – like a 3 min presentation, the experts call for you to create an entire CFB speech. These are both ways of presenting in a way that answers the question – “Why should you buy this stuff from me?” If someone asks you what you do for a living and you say “I sell painted shells”, that’s a very shallow answer that doesn’t tell the whole story and DEFINITELY won’t convince anyone to buy from you. But if you can tell me WHY your painted shells are so unique and why I need/want one in my home, then I might want to buy from you. This is the reason why Apple was able to jump so far ahead of Windows in sales in the early 2000s – when Apple sold their products, their advertising was always based around a “why” – you need this because it will make you feel better/look better/act better/be better. Whereas Windows simply told you what their stuff was and how many gigs (GB) it could hold, along with all the other specs. People don’t need to know as much about WHAT you have as they do WHY it will help them.
So – work on that commitment level and work on answering that “why” question, and you’ll already be miles ahead of 50% of the other start-ups out there!
Need other Colorado small business assistance? Need to elevate yourself above your competition? We’re here to help! We can create and host your website, create a promo or event video for you, create print graphics to match your online presence theme, or help you with social media advertising. Yes, we sell our services to make money, but we also do this because we LOVE seeing happy clients as a result of us helping their business grow! So…how can we help you today?