To Grow Your Business, Ask Questions First

by francine Hardaway on September 2, 2008

Tomorrow I leave the Bay Area with its plethora of innovators, resources, early adopters and smart people and travel back to reality.My thoughts are drifting back to the entrepreneurs I deal with in Arizona, who are trying to survive, thrive and grow in a difficult environment.

The environment is partly a reflection of outside events, partly a mental state, and partly a true shortage of capital.

The angels have gone away, slapped down by the real estate crisis and their own illiquid assets. The banks are burdened by their bad loans. And most companies I coach are either not ready for VC money or will never be in a space that interests a VC.

So the entrepreneurs are stuck, aren’t they? If they want to grow, or even to stay in business, they have to get serious about marketing. Now’s the time to ask yourself whether you have a product or service
the market even WANTS, and then how to reach that idea universe of
customers. Because you aren’t going to do it without customers.

Props to Aaron Bare from Career Tours, one of our Fasttrac volunteer resources, who sent me the correct list of questions to ask yourself if you are a small business looking to get into or grow a market.

1.What is your value proposition?

2. What is your target market?

3. What sales channels can you tap into?

4. Do you have an online marketing plan? (SEO + SEM)

5. How do you enable PR, word of mouth and guerrilla marketing?

6. How can I use partnership opportunities to help both my company and the partner?

7. Is there a joint venture opportunity somewhere?

8. What is my plan for growth?

These are the right questions. We will spend the next ten weeks helping companies ask them.

Why won’t we just skip right to helping them answer the questions? Because you can’t answer them until you ask them, and many companies don’t devote the time to learning what to ask themselves before looking for answers. That’s why companies ask marketing providers for “a brochure” a “web site,” “a blog,” without knowing what they are going to do with these tools.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Allan Himmelstein September 2, 2008 at 5:03 pm

This is an excellent post. I also am in Arizona and deal with small business owners, who do not ask enough questions. I recently wrote a Blog on Effective Listening. You have to know the right questions to effectively listen. Keep up the good work. Never ever stop asking the questions.

Michael VanDervort September 2, 2008 at 6:30 pm

Nice post Francine,

Have you ever considered doing distance coaching, webinars, etc? — Michael

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