The One Question You Need to Ask
* 3 Minute Read *
In 2017, I was naive and riding high on the excitement of starting another business. I thought I had a good plan but neglected to ask myself the one question that would have changed everything.
It was a huge mistake.
A lot of small businesses make this same mistake. It’s so simple that it often gets overlooked. Which is really unfortunate because it is so important. Asking it can be the difference between incredible success or crashing and burning.
You might even disregard it yourself. I can only hope that you don’t. Write it down. Put it on a post-it note and stick it on your computer or someplace you see every day. It’s not the kind of question you can answer in a minute or two, you need to absorb it.
In effect, it all starts with the problem.
The Right Problem
You could argue Starbucks or Jeggings don’t solve a problem, but I would argue that they do. If you look closely at any business, it solves a problem. Whether or not you believe in the problem, enough people do to make them profitable.
Most businesses start with a problem that their founder(s) are passionate about. When I started mine, it was because I saw a problem with small businesses struggling with growth. I saw my background in video production as the perfect solution.
From that point on, everything that I did was to prove my video production company was the perfect solution. There was only one issue, it wasn’t. No matter how good of a video I delivered, it would never be good enough.
You see, I never really understood my audience. The small businesses I wanted to serve needed more than just a video. They needed a marketing strategy. They needed tips to be more effective. They needed actionable information to help them market and grow their company before they even thought about video production.
I spent several years selling the wrong thing to the wrong audience and I could have avoided it all if I had just asked myself, “Is there a better solution?”
So simple and obvious, isn’t it? Except it wasn’t then.
The Wrong Solution
In 2017 I had convinced myself video was the perfect solution. There were some big biases keeping me from seeing clearly. One, my background was video, doing something else seemed like a waste of my education. I also wasn’t a writer, let alone an influencer. Who was I to consider myself one?
Three years later, here I am, starting over. It took a global pandemic for me to realize that there was a better solution and that I had to pivot.
After asking myself the right question would help me to see a gap between what small businesses needed and the educational content that was available. Much of it was overwhelming or too general to be useful for a small business owner. Small business owners needed concise and actionable tips to help them. Tips that didn’t require them to work an extra 40 hours a week or cost them thousands of dollars
It’s a little embarrassing to admit all of this in retrospect, but if it helps one person to reinvent their business, then it’s all worth it.
Don’t be like me. Don’t let self-doubt, your background or busyness, keep you stuck. Don’t stay in an industry because you feel you have to. Find the way to best serve people and commit to it.
Put yourself in the shoes of the person-with-the-problem every day and keep asking yourself, is this the best solution? Could it be better?
When you ask yourself that question consistently your mindset will change. You won’t just be a business owner, you’ll be a problem solver and it will transform your business in ways you could never imagine.