The SINGLE, Most Important Question for the Small Business Owner


The SINGLE, Most Important Question for the Small Business OwnerSo, you are the entrepreneur and small business owner. Congratulations!


You have moved from concept and vision to rolling out your plan, then securing the space, meeting with numerous contractors, suppliers, and vendors. Passing the inspections, licensing and registration with the city, county, state and federal agencies, you, then, selected the right bank from which to operate the company funds. Like most entrepreneurs, you supplied your company with the needed upfront money in order to launch. After all that, the equipment, furnishings, decor, supplies and goods arrived. You put the shoulder to the wheel and arranged it all. Then you brought others on board and provided the training they needed in order to give your customers the very best in service and sales. You made sure that the grand opening and ribbon cutting event went especially well. The news began spreading and heralding the dawning day of your company!


You should NEVER forget to congratulate yourself on your creativity, resourcefulness, and leadership. Not too many people know what it is to "Sign the Front of the Paycheck!" Quite a thrilling experience, and you triumphed over enormous obstacles!


Here's a real important question, though. Actually I believe this question is the SINGLE, MOST IMPORTANT One you have to answer. Do you know why opened your company? There had to be something that compelled you to make all of the above happen. So, since things do not JUST happen without a reason, What was your reason for opening your business?

Frequent responses to that question:

To get and keep customers...

To provide for my family...

To be my own boss...

To be the decision-maker...

To provide stability lacking in previous employment...

To have opportunity for more income...

To have an income...

To get free from the daily grind...

To do the thing I really love doing!



All of these responses are good. However, they are answering a different question. They answer the "What-do-you-hope-to-get-out-of-having-your-own-business" question.


Businesses struggle mightily. Sometimes the company may go for several quarters without showing its owner any signs of hope for making those things happen consistently. Many businesses start well only to fail within the first 3 to 5 years. Unless the business is to become a quick, flash-in-the-pan, it will need to be able to stand up against the ravages of time and the growing and accelerating competition.


As the small business owner, you must have a sharper edge and know how to keep it sharp. So, in the difficult life of the struggling business, what keeps the business owner from throwing in the towel? You are the leader of your company. You are the one to inspire and to instill leadership and to have a clear vision for the direction of your company. That is why this is the single most important question that you will have to answer. That question is, "Why did you open your company?" If you do not know the reason, make it your highest priority find out and to put it in writing as soon as possible.


Several years ago, a young, business owner named John, gave me his very compelling answer. This is why he started his company:


"We are in business to provide our Customers and the Community things that they cannot get anywhere else. We have met the need that they have for our products and service, but that's only the beginning. If we stop there, competition can duplicate our accomplishments and beat us by lowering their price structure. So, we are here because I wanted every customer to feel like this is the ONLY place where they can come to get the better products, better service, and higher value for their hard-won dollars. However, I also want our customers to experience what genuine enthusiasm feels like. When we can see our customers enjoying that, it is inspirational, compelling, lasting, and it is FUN! That's why I opened this business."


When his business was performing as he intended, it gave its customers 1) better products and better service that could only be found at his business, 2) a consistent, easy and inspiring way to get these products and services, and 3) a premium experience that so impacted them, that his customers returned, told and brought others with them.


His reason was about what the customer would get for doing business at his company. He was able to focus his entire company on the one statement that showed the reason it existed. Everything it set about to do stemmed from that one reason. Because of this, his company became a highly valued asset to the customers and community it served. After operating his business very successfully for 9 years, he was able to sell it for--present day market value--$4,716,981.


Unintended consequences of not knowing the compelling reason for opening your company will show up in numerous ways. Worse case, your business will have a very short life. At best, it will struggle more for its survival, never achieve its true potential, and you will have done it a disservice.


If, on the other hand, you put in writing the compelling reason for why you are in business, you will have a company that takes on a persona of its own. What you want is to provide opportunities and not to provide just a job. If you answer this question in writing, you are making a Commitment to Succeed. Your company will have the clarity it very much needs. Once you do that, you can move to tangible, specific and attainable goals. You change from working in your business to working ON your business.


If this topic interests you, or if you have had an experience like this, we would appreciate your comments. Or if you have other comments, we'd love to know them as well. Contact us at AVWGRP@gmail.com