The Six Critical Questions for Every Entrepreneur

Great questions. They work for personal as well as corporate goals.

David Cummings on Startups

Over the years I’ve recommended Patrick Lencioni’s book The Advantage to hundreds of entrepreneurs. Generally, the idea is the health and clarity of the organization is one of the most important things the entrepreneur can control, yet many entrepreneurs believe it’s beneath them to spend time on it. Of course, entrepreneurs that embrace and focus on the culture and clarity in a company build great firms and achieve greater levels of success — it’s commonsense that the more employees believe in the business, the better the business will do.

From the book, there are six critical questions every entrepreneur needs to answer and ensure everyone in the company can answer in a consistent manner:

  1. Why do we exist?
  2. How do we behave?
  3. What do we do?
  4. How will we succeed?
  5. What is the most important, right now?
  6. Who must do what?

Entrepreneurs need to answer these questions now and re-answer…

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The one habit that leads to success

The hardest thing for most people to do is to stop defending their own actions and start looking for ways to act differently.  Whether your goal is financial, career, health/weight, spiritual or relationship, if you are not achieving your goals then you are one of the big obstacles to success.  You may not be the biggest obstacle, in your own mind at least, but you the one obstacle that you have total control over.

How many times have you heard someone who wasn’t achieving their own goals blame their lack of success on something outside of their control?  They blamed company policy, the economy, lack of support from their partner, etc.  Have you ever thought to yourself, “hey, you keep putting yourself into those situations.  Other people are successful under the very same situations.  They figured it out.  If you stopped complaining about it and put that much effort into being successful, then you would have done it by now.”  It is easy to see when someone else isn’t taking responsibility for their own success.  It is a bit harder to see when you aren’t taking responsibility for your success.  Ask yourself why you aren’t achieving your goals.  Keep asking until you answer something that is within your power to change.  Then change it.

Life coaches have a tool they use but you can use it on yourself.  Basically, they ask you on a scale 1 to 10 how satisfied or successful are you with a given component of your life.  What ever number you give (other than a 10), they then ask you what would it take to get that number to be one or two digits higher.  That is, what would it take to turn that three into a five or that 7 into an eight.  Small steps.  If your answer is something about outcomes instead of actions.  For example, you said that your satisfaction on your health would improve from an six to an eight when you lose ten more pounds.  Then they will ask you what you can do TODAY to start losing those pounds.  The keys are to get to actions you can control yourself, look for small improvements and start doing it today.

Mere Measurement Effect

The Mere Measurement Effect  describes the tendancy of asking someone’s intent to do something increases the likelihood of them doing it. For example, people were asked if they intended on purchasing a car in the next six month increased the likelyhood of actually buying a car by 35 percent. Asking someone if they intend to vote causes similar increases in actual voting participation. 
You can use this tendancy to your own benefit by asking yourself – and answering – do you really intend on doing what ever your goal is. For example, do you intend on losing weight. Do you intend on making the phone calls necessary to make your business successful. Simply ask yourself. 

Sell to yourself

A common sales technique is to answer every question with a question.  The concept is to keep the customer talking.  Pretty much in any conversation, the more you can keep the other person talking, the better they feel the conversation went.  Additionally, the salesperson is supposed to listen to their answers.  The more the salesperson learns, the better she will be able to assist the customer.

Typical question and answers would be something like:

“Do you have one in red?”

“Do you want one in red?” or “Why do you want one in red?”

“Does the house have a pool?”

“Do you want a house with pool?” or “How would you use a house with a pool?”

Now, practice doing this technique with your own self-talk.  When you say to yourself, “I want this job?” “Is this relationship healthy for me?” etc. ask yourself follow up questions.  Keep asking yourself questions until you run out of questions or answers.  Did you come up with something surprising?  Many times people will use this technique and are surprised about what they really want in life.  They can find different ways to satisfy their needs.