I Hate I Told Ya So(s): 8 Questions Business Owners Must Ask and Answer Every Day!

I’m usually inspired to blog when one of two things occur. Either when I’m on a super high from a remarkable day of coaching or when I’m disappointed in my ability to convey the importance of my message to a client and they don’t take immediate action. (I’m the coach. Their actions are reflections of my ability to communicate.)

And my blogs are always a bit, well, a lot lengthy. If you want to skip the story behind the questions I’ve listed them in simple bullet point at the end of this blog for those who just want to get straight to the questions.

Today’s blog is brought to you courtesy of a combination of both super high and disappointing moments.
My clients are all incredibly successful. Coaching these days is spent on increasing success, getting better, faster, stronger, rather than on surviving. So, it’s a lot of fun for me, and my clients.

My clients and their teams are knocking their goals out of the park. Their businesses are profitable, growing and expanding almost faster than we can keep up with. New jobs are being created every day. Employees are engaged and thriving, and customers have become raving fans. Owners and their employees are purchasing other businesses and creating multiple opportunities for additional passive income.

That’s a great day in the life of a coach! Today I had an “I told you so” moment. Not as in “see, this is awesome I told you so” moment. My client and I had a conversation years ago, a couple of times since then, and now again today. The difference? Today they had finally made the change. Today they also realized not making the change earlier had cost them over 6 figures just in the last 12 months. While many people love “I told ya so’s”. I’m never a fan. I much prefer “great work”!

So, what now? The change was made. We can recoup the 6 figures. I’m not sure if we’ll ever know what financial impact not making the change had on the company for the previous years. (If we can’t recoup it we won’t spend time looking for it.)

As I was driving home today, still on my combined high, I began to mull over the day, as I do every day after coaching. I decided that I needed to share what I believe every business owner needs to ask themselves every single day in order to be as successful as they can be in that moment and to become consistently more successful in the future. And avoid those uncomfortable costly “I told you so” moments.

The questions all begin the same:

What will I do today to:

1. Achieve my goal?
If you don’t have goals to work toward, to track, to test, to measure, what are you focusing on every day? Without goals most business owners just show up to work each day and do what they think needs to be done, getting stuck in the weeds and losing sight of the big picture. It’s a dangerous and usually fatal way to operate a business. So first set your goal. Then take action every day to achieving it. Not sure how to set the right goals? Click Here for simple steps!

2. Develop my skills and talents?
As a business owner you are ultimately responsible for the livelihood of your organization. You must develop your skills and your talents daily. Read a book. Take a class. Hire a coach. Get a mentor. Do something every day that gives you more knowledge, more ability, and ultimately more success.

3. Mitigate a risk?
Business ownership is risky business. There are always new risks at every stage of business. The key is uncovering them. Only then can you analyze the risk, and then mitigate them. Grab a few strategic partners. (People who have different talents than you do.) Ask them to dig up any risks they might see in your business. Hold those lists tight and then get to work to remove or reduce them. (I’ve seen businesses go out of businesses for no other reason than they didn’t see or address the risk, embezzlement, regulation change, competition, employee law suit, etc…)

4. Improve or create a system?
Your business should be completely systematized. Think about McDonald’s. You may not like their food, but you know that you can expect the same thing every single visit. Systems increase efficiency and productivity and they improve your employee and customer experience and create more value for your business. Write down everything that happens in your business from open to close. Start with the list. Then, one by one, create and document the system for it to happen successfully. If you already have systems in place review them. Ask you employees to review them and how you can improve them.

5. Improve my profitability?
Most small business owners tend to look for ways to reduce expenses. That’s great. It’s a good start. However, if you want more income, net income, not just revenue, you must look at the big picture and focus on how to improve things like profit margins, average dollar sale, number of transactions. Rather than cutting expenses, could you add value to a product or service and increase the price? Could you purchase in bulk giving you a better margin? Could you create a bonus structure that drives profitable sales? Could you give your customers the opportunity to buy more frequently? The possibilities are endless.

6. Develop my team?
Your employees are your greatest asset. While most business owners focus on the customer they’re missing their greatest driver of success or failure, their employees. Your profitability, productivity, and customer loyalty are the score card of the success or failure of your employees. Invest in the success of your team. Understand what their strengths are and develop them. People want to grow personally and professionally. Bring in experts to offer training and professional development. Give them learning opportunities. Create a culture where every employee has an opportunity to grow. Invest in your employees and you’ll gain one of the greatest ROI’s you could see in business ownership.

7. Get a new client?
Or several new clients? So often business owners and sales teams get caught up in the tasks that need to be accomplished throughout the day. I get it. We all have work to do. But if you need new clients every day, why wouldn’t you do something to get one every day? Hire a sales person. Send a newsletter. Send some emails. Make some phone calls. Run a campaign. Ask a client for a referral. I could go on and on. My point is if you did just one thing every single day, just one, to gain a new client, you may find yourself with a waiting list or the need to hire. Quality challenges, right?

8. Retain my existing clients?
Everyone knows it’s much less expensive and easier to keep an existing client than it is to gain a new one, right? Then why do most business owners focus on getting new clients (sales and marketing) rather than retaining their existing clients? Start with tracking your client retention. I’m sure that will be an eye opener for you. Then begin doing things to retain them. Become more than just a person who provides a product or service. Do you have other connections you could introduce them to? Could you become more of an advisor? Is there an additional service you could provide to them to add value to your relationship? Do you have a relationship? How could you establish a mutually beneficial relationship?

Imagine if you did something every day to achieve your goal, develop a skill or talent, mitigate a risk, create or improve a system, increase profitability, develop your team, get a new client, and retain your existing ones? Unstoppable comes to mind!

Sound overwhelming? It doesn’t have to be. Remember, find strategic partners, people who possess the talents to do what you don’t. Even if you’re still wearing many hats the day could look something like this:

1. Achieve my goal: Create steps with accomplish by dates to track success (30 minutes)
2. Develop my skill: Register for leadership seminar (20 minutes)
3. Mitigate a risk: Create list for checks and balances needs for finance team (1 hour)
4. Improve a system: Ask John to create application on line (20 minutes)
5. Improve profitability: Ask team how we can add more value (Schedule brain storming session) (20 minutes)
6. Develop my team: Schedule weekly coaching sessions with my team (1 hour)
7. Get a new client: Follow up with Dr. Smith (30 minutes)
8. Retain my existing clients: Create and send a one question survey to clients. “How could we add more value for you?” (1 hour)

Total time: 5 hours

This is just an example. Your steps to success may take more or less time than my example. The key is to stay focused and make progress ever day…and avoid those pesky “I told ya so’s”.

As promised here’s the shortcut for those who just want

The question list:

What will I do today to:
Develop my skills and talents?
Mitigate a risk?
Create or improve a system?
Improve profitability?
Develop my team?
Get a new client?
Retain my existing clients?