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365 Ways to Get Results: Day #47: The Seven Questions Essential for Business Strategy

Answer these seven simple questions and you will have a strategy that will not fail you.

1. What is the purpose of your business? You should be able to recite your purpose in one sentence. The purpose of your business should be personally rewarding to you. It should bind together all of your action plans and activities. It is a guide for when you may be slipping away from your core goals. It is the difference you make in the world. It is why you exist.

2. Who is your customer? Be specific. Who must your product or service satisfy to achieve results? Is it men or women? What is their age? Where do they live? What race? What professions or trades? Who do they trust? Where do they go for fun? What causes do they support? Where do they spend time? Who are their friends? What is their income? What is important to them? What are their immediate goals? What are their five and ten year goals?

3. What will prompt your customer to act? You must know what your customer cares about if you want to meet their needs. But just because they say they care does not mean they will be inspired to act. You have already defined who you think your customer is under #2. You have defined that by your estimation. But you cannot truly identify what they want until you ask them directly. Create a survey and ask them some non-threatening demographic questions to validate who they are but also, what they would like to see in your product or services. Frame the questions with action statements such as, “Would you purchase _______ if it did ________?”

Surveys can be given in your place of business, in the mail with a postage paid return envelope, through online posts and forums, via an email request, or via a free electronic survey on SurveyMonkey.com. After you do this you will better be able to identify new markets you might explore based on the demographics of your audience. If you find that your clients live in the suburbs, focus their time and energy on their children, and are mostly women, you might begin networking in women’s professional organizations, visiting online forums for women, giving free lectures in suburban communities on something that is of value to the family.

4. What is your niche? Why you and not your competitor? What do your customers or clients need more of in order to get/be something they desire: more money, more thin, more time, more freedom, more fulfillment, more customers, more business, more friends, more what? Who needs your product or service? Don’t look at your business in terms of features and benefits. Consider what would happen if your business did not exist. Will it matter? What will make your prospects turn only to you for your product or service?

5. How will you measure your success? Business plans, grant applications, and other financial qualifying documents require you to show exactly how you will measure your success for a reason. If you do not know what you are aiming for, how will you know you have made a difference in meeting your purpose? It must be quantifiable. Not “We will have succeeded if we have more business.” More like, “Within the three months periods we will track the number of overall customers, the number of new customers, the amount of overall business, and the amount of business from new customers.”

6. What are your goals and plan? If you have spent time on the above four questions, the answer to this question should be clear. Your goals should be in direct alignment with the purpose of your business, targeted to fill a need for your ideal customers, and evoking a call to action from your prospects so that the results are measurable. Your plan is the action you will take to meet your goals. Be flexible. The goals and plan should be able to be altered midstream depending on the results you encounter.

7. How will you celebrate? It is important for you and your team to celebrate your successes. This will instill the realization that strategy does pay off and that the experience of a well-designed and executed plan is worth repeating. Start now!

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Mary Lee Gannon is the president of StartingOverNow.com – Leading Productivity Solutions for People and Organizations. Mary Lee is a graduate of The Duquesne University Professional Coaching Program and an alumnus of the 2010 Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital Coaching in Medicine & Leadership Conference. Her personal turnaround came as a stay-at-home mother, with four children under seven-years-old, who endured a divorce that took she and the children from the country club life to public assistance from where within a short time she worked to the level of CEO. Services include: Workshops, Meeting Facilitation, Coaching, Webinars, Speaking and Management Consulting. Areas of Specialty: Strategic Planning / Board Development / Healthcare / Public Relations / Goal Setting / Meeting Facilitation / Acountability / Leadership / Time Management / Life/Career Transition. Her book “Starting Over – 25 Rules for When You’ve Bottomed Out” is available in bookstores or at Amazon. Get her FREE ebook – “Grow Productivity – A Leader’s Toolbox” on her web site at www.StartingOverNow.com.