The six most useful questions that you can ask of yourself

Simple – yes, easy – maybe, useful – you bet!!

The six most useful questions that you can ask of yourself, of the business and of the people in the business…

I was reminded of these yesterday by my good friend and mentor Peter Thomson.

These questions give structure to any reviews and planning that you are doing whether they are about your business, the business you work in, your role in the business, your personal and business development or anyone In the business.

They also give great structure for meetings with prospective and current clients. And could also be used as the basis of the structure for interviews, presentations, webinars and talks.


Seemingly simple questions but hey, do they get people to dig deep and really think about things because clarity is everything. We may not know all the solutions but that will come.

Health warning – be prepared to be open and honest when answering the questions otherwise you’ll still be seeing things through opaque glass.

For ease I’ve included business and personal sub questions/points but then you can’t divorce people and business; businesses only thrive and survive because of people so all are relevant.

Question 1: Where am I now? You could also consider this to be ‘where is the business now?’

  • What’s going one now in this moment?
  • What’s the state of the business?
  • What’s the current state of sales, marketing, leads and prospects?
  • What’s happening to cash flow?
  • What’s the health of the people in the business? What’s the health of the teams in the business (and by that I mean how well are they working together and working individually as well as considerations re personal health)
  • How healthy am I?
  • How well am I nurturing me?
  • How well is the business being nurtured?
  • Are goals being achieved?
  • Is everything being delivered on time and on budget?
  • What’s the efficiency and effectiveness of the delivery side of the business?
  • What’s the efficiency and effectiveness of the back office side of the business?

Question 2: How did I get here? How did the business get here?

  • Background of how got to where you now or where the business is now
  • Structure, development, adding teams and people
  • Adding products and services
  • Moving from bricks and mortar to online
  • Skills, knowledge, experience
  • Career path, personal development
  • Start up, fledgling business, established business
  • Impact of recessing, changes in the market, changes in customers’ market
  • The events and things that got you and or the business to where you are now

Question 3: Where are you going? Or where is the business going?

  • Aspiration, achievements and goals
  • Consider short, medium and long term
  • Structure and strategy
  • New ventures, new collaborations and partnerships, products and services
  • Customer avatar
  • Visions and values

Question 4: Why do I want to get there? Why does the business want to get there?

  • What is this going to give you and or the business?
  • What will it achieve?
  • And what else will it give you and what else will it achieve

Once you have answered the first 2 points keep asking what else, if I have or the business has a, b, c then what else will that give me and or the business. Keep asking the question if I have a, b, and c what does that give me and if I have a, b, c, and d what else does that give me or what else will I and or the business have achieved?

By going down through the ‘layers’ of what will be gained, achieved, have got then you’ll get beyond the things whatever they are to the underlying reasons, emotions and values. Even in business there’s still these things because the business is essentially people and there’s always something beyond just the numbers.

Then you’ll truly understand why you want to get there.

Question 5: What’s stopping you?

  • What are the gaps in skills and knowledge?
  • Is there sufficient or the right level or resources
  • Is there time available, if not how can that be created or released?
  • Is there sufficient cash available of not how can that be accessed?
  • The current health of the business and the people
  • A lone voice, need to motivate others
  • Sharing the in the vision and getting buy-in?
  • Have you and all those around you got the mindset and understanding you need?
  • What’s the risk?
  • What are the risks and the costs of not doing?

Question 6: What will you do about that?

Simply identifying what things that might stop you:

  • Gaps in skills, knowledge, understanding
  • Insufficient available resources
  • Blockages (, attitudes and behaviours

Some changes may be easy and others not so but if you really want it badly enough then you’ll do it whatever it takes.

Insufficient resources may mean that you have to change strategy and timing or look at how to get the resources needed more quickly.

Risks and probabilities are of course important but don’t forget to also consider what the risk of not doing something is going to be. It could be far greater than the risk of doing something. And planning and strategy can mitigate risk.

“Courage is the power to let go of the familiar”,
Raymond Lindquist

So you can see how this can be a very powerful set of seemingly simple questions that elicit a lot of information, and get right to the heart of the situation, the plans, the gaps, the wants and needs.

The question is do you want it badly enough? And what are you going to do about it? Remember like the elephant you can start with just one bite at a time…

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