If there is any single secret formula to being successful in business – it is simply this – Assume nothing and ask lots of questions.
This simple formula has made all the difference to many successful business owners. One of the main reasons small businesses fail to prosper is that the owners assume too much about too much.
We all do it! Often as business owners, we think we know more than we do. We know that we’re competent in the activity that generates our income, and we consequently think that we know everything there is to know about our business. As a result, we don’t ask enough questions.
Business owners are often so enthusiastic about their business that they do not take the time to stand back and identify any problem areas.
Enthusiasm in business is vital for its success, but this has to be tempered by a realistic assessment of every aspect of the business. Every facet should be examined to make sure nothing is overlooked. Question everything. Assume nothing. This way you will be prepared for most difficulties that could arise.
After all, think how often in life it is the unforeseen, or the unplanned event, that throws out all those carefully laid plans.
This, therefore, means that the most important thing you can ever do as a business owner is to continually ask yourself questions such as the following:
Who is going to buy your products?
Who is going to pay for this purchase?
Who is going to supply the working capital?
Who will be responsible for this task?
Who will he or she report to?
Who is going to take over when you’re gone?
Who will you turn to for help if you experience problems?
Who will you reward when this is done successfully?
Who is answerable if it isn’t?
Questions to ask yourself
Why are you doing this?
Why would someone buy from you?
Why is this deal structured like this?
Why do they want you and not someone else?
Why are you uncomfortable with this person?
Where is the money?
Where are you supposed to deliver?
Where will you be meeting?
When will you get paid?
When will they deliver?
When will you leave this business?
What are you expected to do?
What will happen if it goes wrong?
What can you do now to protect yourself?
What can you do to add more value to this sale?
What will happen if you do nothing?
What will happen if your partner dies/gets married/elopes/resigns/gets chicken pox?
How many people walk past this location that you are planning to rent?
How much will it really cost if you include all the hidden bits?
How can you do this with less risk?
How can you make more money doing this?
How can you increase the value your clients get?
How will you get out later if it goes wrong?
Difference between success and failure
The difference between people who are extremely successful and those who aren’t is simply this – the more questions they ask the more successful that person seems to be. In other words:
The less you assume, the more you are able to avoid disaster.
The less you assume, the less time you will spend in recovering from challenges.
The less you assume, the more you will ask.
And the more you ask, the more you will learn.
Assumption is the mother of disaster. Yet daily we make assumptions. We assume, for example, that the lawyer we consult is qualified to give us the best advice.
However, what’s the difference between a lawyer who passed their exams first time with 99%, and one who scraped by after four attempts? Who would you rather have representing your case?