In order to be successful as a small business owner, you need to check in with yourself from time-to-time to really access where your business is.  This is really the first step to making any type of change to your business.  If you don’t know where you are currently at, it’s almost impossible to get where you want to go!  So, here are 5 key questions that you need to ask yourself to access where you are at now, and determine where you want to go:

Key Question #1 – What business are you really in?

This question provides a great starting point.  In order to identify where you want to take your business, you really need to know what business you are really in.  What do I mean by that?  As an example, some people would say that Starbuck’s is in the coffee business.  In reality though, Starbuck’s is in the business of providing a place where people can work, greet and meet each other.  Knowing what business you are really in can make a big difference in your strategy moving forward.

Key Question #2 – Why did you get in this business in the first place, and why are you in it now?

Understanding why you started your business in the first place, and why you are in the business now are really important questions to answer.  The answer to these questions helps you to determine what your purpose is, which is the number one reason you will achieve, or won’t achieve, your goals.

You should have a powerful reason (or reasons) why you do what you do.  This will give you the drive and passion to run your business.   Furthermore, you should also know what your exit strategy is.  If you don’t have one, you really don’t have a business.

Key Question #3 – Who are you?

You may be wondering what this question is all about.  Understanding who you are and what your natural gifts and talents are will help you determine what role you should be playing in your business, and who to surround yourself with to have the success you want.

Key Question #4 – Where are you?

It’s imperative to have a firm grasp of where your business is at.  If you don’t know where you are, then you have no hope of getting where you want to go.  As an example, if you want to go to Miami on vacation, but don’t know your current location, then there is no way to figure out how to get there.  The same holds true of your business.  Having a firm understanding of where your business is at in its lifecycle is crucial to your planning and future success!

Key Question #5 – What’s next?

Once you understand where you are with your business, and answer the other questions above, it’s time to determine where you want to go.  If you want to be really successful, you need to have a strategy for where you are going.  Without one, you’ll end up as one of the 96% of all businesses that fail during the first 10 years of their lifecycle.

A solid strategy is not about having a mission, tactics, or execution.  It’s about having a plan that will give you an advantage over your competition and will take advantage of upcoming changes and shifts in the market, or new and unforeseen opportunities with your customer base.

By answering the 5 questions above, you’ll improve your chances for success!

Reprinted with permission.

Tom Kelly is a Professional Business Coach that specializes in working with small business owners, entrepreneurs, and salespeople. He can be reached at (773) 907-0921, or at

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