Ever thought about why you started your business?  Was it a family operation and you were the next in line to take the helm?  Or maybe the idea that starting your empire was burning inside you as a young person and you were encouraged to follow your dreams?  Maybe it started as a hobby and some well meaning family member talked you into turning ‘your spare time love’ into a going concern.  Whatever the reason, you now have the ultimate responsibility for producing your own paycheck, possibly a payroll and hopefully the profit needed to develop your business into something that will help you achieve your future financial goals. 

So was it a good business decision?  All you wanted was the opportunity to do it your way, right?  Just a little slice of that American dream you heard so much about.  No one told you about all the things you would have to know and do? (government regulations, IRS rules, accounting details and employee problems to say nothing of competition and market changes).  It’s enough to make you want to go back to work for someone else- well maybe not! 

Seventy percent of all jobs in this country are created by small businesses.  And yet, over 60% of small businesses go out of business within 4 years of operation.  By year 5, the closure rate has climbed to 85%!  Can you image what it’s like now after 3 years of recessionary cloud cover!

 The fact is the reason most people start or own their own businesses is contrary to what it takes to run a successful business.  Want to see how this works?  Ask yourself 3 questions:  I call it the ‘Why’ factor.

1.  Why did you decide to start this business?

2.  Why do you run this business the way you do?

3.  Why should customers buy what you have to sell?

Answers could vary widely but should fall into 2 groups; inside answers and outside answers.

Inside answers are responses directed towards your internal needs; your income, your idea, your business, your way, etc.  Answers like these suggest that your main reason for having a business is largely self-serving.  As long as you’re happy, the rest of the world can take it or leave it.  I was going to say ‘eat cake’ but that expression may not be recognizable to most people today.

Outside answers suggest your motives are directed towards something larger and more important than yourself; filling a consumer need, providing for an under-served segment of the population or following a passion to make other’s lives easier or more convenient.  Having a desire to support something greater than you can be a powerful motivator and commitment to succeed.


Take a look at some examples:

 Question #1:  Why did you decide to start this business?

Inside answer:  I couldn’t find a job and I needed to make some money.

Outside answer:  My friends and acquaintances keep asking me to provide (X) because they say they can’t find anyone who can do this.

Observation:  There is certainly more to evaluating the long term success of a business idea or your own personal skill at doing what others can’t find anywhere else.  If you charged your friends the going rate for your service, would they still ask?  Is the market viable; meaning is there enough of a market to build a business on?  Finally, do you like providing this thing you do to such an extent that you could do it all the time, everyday, all year long?


Question #2:   Why do you run this business the way you do?

Inside answer:  It’s convenient for me to operate this way and it doesn’t get in the way of my daily routine.

Outside answer:  I started quite differently but I kept listening to my customers and they told me what was best for them.

Observation:  As a small business owner, your number 1 role is to grow your new found business until it meets or exceeds all the goals you have for it- revenue, income, size, staff, facility, client count, equity value so you can eventually sell it.  Unless you want part time results, you’ll need to think about how to make your routine work with your business.  Good customers will be patient but not if they think you are not committed to their needs.


Question #3:  Why should customers buy what you have to sell?

Inside answer:  Everyone needs this.  I should have no trouble getting everyone I know to buy this!

Outside answer:  I’ve looked at how my competition delivers this service and I can add lots of value to my service so people will see the difference.

Observation:  This is the big question many new business owners never think about.  If you doubt me, ask someone at your next networking function why their product is different than other providers and see what response you get.  Consulmers have more choices about where they get products and services from than ever before so you must be able to demonstrate (and communicate) your value to prospective customers immediately.


Now try this yourself.  See what your responses are to these questions.  The answers will tell you allot about your motives and your eventual success.  To be sure, there are always exceptions to every trend, rule or best practice.  Are you the rare exception or are you one of the 60%+ who will be working for someone else within 4 years of your new venture’s birth?

Here’s my point.  Find a very successful business owner and you’re sure to find out that the thing that drove their success was the passion, the desire or the need to serve someone else.  If you keep this thought in mind and go back and ask yourself the three questions above, how different would the answers be?

Food for thought.  Cake, if you’re feeling nostalgic!


Additional resources to help you with this topic:

If you are on your way in your business but are concerned about what might be missing in your approach and want to find out from a professional coach who can give you some objective, candid feedback about what to do, visit my site at http://www.growthsourcecoaching.com/Need-Answers-Ask-Steve.html and ask your question.  I’ll give you some insights and ideas that will help you make better decisions and be able to move forward.

Originally posted 2015-08-29 22:05:43. Republished by Blog Post Promoter