10 Questions You Should Be Able To Answer About Your Business

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One of the most important elements of being an entrepreneur, is being able to articulate key areas of your business. Whether you are talking to a potential customer, trying to differentiate yourself from other businesses, or seeking investment or capital, these are standard questions you should be able to answer.

  1. What do you do? This is the most common question that not only business owners get, but adults of all ages get. Can you simplify what you do to one word? One sentence? One “elevator pitch.” Simplification is important, because you want people to remember what you told them AND you want them to be able to share with others they may come in contact with.  My one word for Donda’s House is “access.” My one sentence is “We provide artist development and youth development.” My elevator pitch goes into more detail about what artist development and youth development is, and I also mention Dr. Donda West’s history.
  2. Who is your competition and how are you different or better? It is important to do your due diligence on companies or organizations that do similar work to you. Number one, you will often hear “Have you ever heard of x?” People may have an affinity for the brand or organization and they are curious to know your thoughts about it. Also, people think in patterns. If you can connect what you do to something they are already familiar with, it will be easier for them to digest (and remember) you. For the longest, people were describing their business as the “Uber of X.” You can even say like “The Boys & Girls Club, we do X, but we also do Y.” In business plans, this is called the competitive analysis. Subscribe to industry publications. Join industry membership organizations. Keep your eye on those who are top performers in your sector, and think constantly about how you can separate yourself from the pack.
  3. Who are your partners? Partners are key. Often, your partners will help to legitimize your company! Especially when you are new. Your partners include your collaborators, as well as your clients or recognizable contracts. Bonus points if you can reference any governmental agencies or institutions as partners. The most important thing you have as a business is your reputation. Partnerships help potential clients and partners to mitigate or reduce risk in doing business with you.
  4. Where can I purchase your products or services? This is super important if you sale goods or services. Most businesses are expected to have an online presence like a website, or a portfolio of some kind. Also, try not to make the spelling of your products or services to difficult, so that when people “google” you, they can find you! It is helpful to have something physical that you can leave with people like a sticker, or something else. Sometimes I don’t like to rely on the memory of a potential participant, I like to also collect their contact information and follow up.
  5. What is your plan for growth? If you don’t have a business plan or strategic plan, you should create one, otherwise it is like running a marathon without a finish line. You have to create milestones and checkpoints for your business so that you can measure growth and make adjustments as needed as you pursue your goals. At Donda’s House we are working off of a 10 year strategic plan that we wrote in 2014, that we are constantly adding ideas to. This is also important for potential investors!
  6. How can I help you? You should have 3 – 5 actions that people can do to support you. Do you need people to follow or share content on social media? Do you need people to test a product? Are you looking for case studies? Do you need legal support. Whatever those key priorities are, you should have ready to go, so that when you come across a supporter, you can provide them with the information or tools they need to help you. People are generally very generous with their time and with their network, but can’t help you if you don’t know how to ask for help.
  7. Who is your customer? Your business or service should solve a problem for a very specific customer profile. Who is your customer? Break down as much information as you can about their preferences, their spending habits and their demographics. If everyone is your customer… then no one is your customer. Really focus on developing this, and go find your people!
  8. What or who could threaten your business? You have to be proactive about the challenges and threats your business faces. If you would have told me 20 years ago that music would become digital and there’d be few physical records, I may have laughed in your face. Be mindful of what is happening in the world and in your sector and be prepared to embrace technology, policy (laws) and other external forces that could negatively (or positively) impact your business.
  9. How are you integrating choice into your business model? Even if it is a choice between (a) or (b), people often want choices. Think about how you are integrated choice into your business model.
  10. What is your marketing and outreach plan? You can have the best product or service in the world, but it won’t matter if people don’t know about you. How are you getting the word out about your business? What are you willing to invest (dollar wise) to help get the word out? Could you connect to another brand or business to help amplify the awareness of your business.

 

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