Growing a business from the ground up can be a frustrating ordeal, and you may occasionally ask yourself how you can finally break through and turn your company into the success it has the potential to be. If you do, that’s no bad thing – but there are other more specific questions that can help you on the path to achieving the sustainable growth you desire.
As the owner of The Wow Company, an accountancy firm for SMEs, Peter Czapp comes into regular contact with a number of businesses that are very much focused on growing – and some of his clients inevitably succeed in this endeavour from time to time. This has given Peter the opportunity to examine the factors that contribute to success, and he took the time to share what he’s learned about how asking questions can transform your company.
Watch the full interview here:
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Ask the right questions
Peter believes that the key to fast-tracking your growth is to ask tough questions. Some of the questions he encourages owners of small and growing firms to ask are:
- If you had to achieve your five-year plans in just one year, what would you do?
- If money were no object, what would you do to grow your business?
- What would you do if you had no money at all?
- What single thing will make the biggest difference to you achieving your growth plans?
For this method to work, you’ll really need to take the questions seriously – it may feel unrealistic, but you’ll get a lot out of looking at your organisation from a slightly different perspective, even if it’s a hypothetical one. Peter says that ‘what you’re trying to do is change your thinking – just set alight a spark that will bring about some creativity, a new way of thinking, a new way of solving a challenge’. For example, you might never be able to say for certain how you’d react to having limitless pots of money, but considering what you’d do in that situation could tell you a thing or two about your stance on certain ethical issues, or which aspects of your business truly motivate you.
Expand your thinking
On the surface, it might not seem useful to ask yourself questions about how you’d run your business if things changed in a way that will never realistically happen. By thinking about things differently though, you can learn a lot about the fundamentals of your business – what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, what’s important to you and what isn’t.
Asking questions can help you to develop new approaches to achieving your company goals. If you ponder Peter’s question about what you’d do if you only had a year to achieve your five-year targets for instance, you might just start to realise that some of the processes and activities that you’ve thus far considered important are less critical than you thought. In Peter’s words, ‘unless you change your thinking, you’re going to get the same results’.
Some of Peter’s questions might also help you to come up with creative ways to solve problems and expand your business that you wouldn’t otherwise think of. Returning to your marketing budget, however limited, could feel quite liberating and inspiring if you’ve just spent some time figuring out how to run your organisation without any financial resources whatsoever.
Focus on what matters
Peter says that the most important of his questions addresses what single thing you can do to grow your business. He expands on this question, saying: ‘What’s going to make the biggest difference today? What’s going to make the biggest difference next week, next month, for the year? If you can keep that focus, and keep doing the stuff that really, really matters, I promise you, good things will happen.’
This question is so valuable because it can help you maintain a focus on the key activities that will help you expand your company, whether in the short term or long term. If you constantly reconsider this from day to day as your business evolves, you’re likely to find success.
The next step
For a business owner, considering Peter’s questions is very useful, but this is really just a starting point. He recommends that you ask yourself these questions daily, regularly re-evaluating your perspective on the state of your company and how you can grow it.
There’s no reason that you can’t come up with your own questions that will be equally useful either – the trick is to create a hypothetical situation where your circumstances change, and then think about how you’d respond to that situation. Seeing things from this shifted perspective will force you to be more creative, which might just give rise to new realisations, mentalities, ideas or approaches that can be implemented in the here and now for the benefit of your business.