Success/Failure — A Different Question

In 1 hour I can develop a framework, 3 days a blueprint, and numerous weeks, traction, revenue and success. So what is the single biggest differentiator for results? The right questions!

Thanks to Evan Kirstel for tweeting the above diagram by Mike Quindazzi — it motivated me to tweet and say a little more. We shouldn’t accept that success is 1 in 1,000 or even 1 in 100. I don’t! It’s not my experience and below I’ll talk about how asking different questions will take you off a course of failure, and point you down the road of success.

People and business exist in status quo with consistency and predictability at the foundation of our daily routines. Fair enough, life would be too hectic and too inefficient without some regularity and certainty.

Innovation and improvement doesn’t have to be a destructive force at odds with systems an known outcomes. These necessary elements of life and business are required to adjust where we are going and what we are doing — in direct correlation to the changing environment in which we live and exist.

So if we can accept that small, regular and incremental change is required to keep us on track, then we can keep an attitude of welcoming change. We can maintain a consistent approach to how we go about adopting change.

This will negate the need for last minute changes before going over a cliff, like a car that has run out of road and failed to change direction. It will also negate the wreckage and major overhaul from failure, because we didn’t heed the signs.

So if we can accept the above is how we should be acting and responding to our environment, then the other key piece to hold on to here is finding the right questions so you are getting the right information — this illuminates and interprets the signs around us and equips us with answers to take the best courses of action, towards success rather than failure.

Which Businesses Make It?

I have personally sat face to face with hundreds of business owners and entrepreneurs over the years, reviewed their businesses, structured investments and arranged finances for them. To get other people’s money behind you, all the elements need to be right — story and results!

I can tell you that every business that has it’s recipe right and gets funded, and is able to answer the key questions for their industry and business, that business is destined for success. There are potentially hundreds and thousands of these businesses all around us, not just 1 in a 1,000.

If you know the key questions for your industry then you can position your business — develop the right strategy, get the right advice, make the right purchasing and hiring decisions, tailor your marketing and sales for results, differentiate yourself against competitors, and trade successfully.

Example: Let’s Choose an Industry — Building Management

Many businesses operate out of some commercial or retail space, so I have chosen this example for broad application to readership.

Let’s Focus on One Aspect or Sub-Set — Building Maintenance

First impressions are important, so everyone should have a well presented reception, foyer, store or showroom. Most will likely have carpet, partially or predominately. To maintain this asset a maintenance plan should be in place, otherwise it will look un-kept and dirty.

So whoever is responsible for this will need to appoint someone to clean and maintain the area, attend to hard floors and carpet maintenance. This could be a combination of in-house staff and external contractors, either directly appointed, or perhaps via a building management company responsible for the whole site.

Either way, you are about to make a decision, and a decision requires information. I will assume that 99% of people won’t be an expert and that less that 20% have any real experience in this specific area of business.

What are Examples of the Right Questions to Ask in this Situation?

In a quest for information and the development of a process to appoint someone to the tasks required, most people will ask a friend, work colleague, or Google, read some articles or blogs, or read some marketing literature from people within this industry.

Based on responses to each, you can zero in on “industry best”, from a potential 100 or 1,000 candidates. So, if you can do this when seeking to appoint someone, how about doing it as an expert consultant for a business or as a business owner, and actually operate an “industry best” business?

Write down 5 questions of your own if you want an exercise, and let’s see how different they are to some examples of the “right questions” I’ve set out below. What would the secondary questions be?:

  1. How do you reduce re-soiling rates generally, but especially on this type of carpet?
  2. Please explain your process in detail, including how you have selected the chemicals and equipment technology you intend to use?
  3. Please explain your time allocation, tasks and frequency relating to a complete daily, weekly, monthly and annual program?
  4. What recommendations do you have in terms of our activities and purchases to support your recommended program?
  5. Could you provide full profile experience and security checks of your people, along with referral information of 3 customers, with similar installations and programs, for us to call and confirm their satisfaction with your services.

If You Don’t Know, How Do You Find Out What You Don’t Know?

As I mentioned with my opening comment, “ In 1 hour I can develop a framework”. I will zero in with my right questions, and I’ll watch your body language as I listen. I’ll have secondary questions, and I’ll see if the responses move to different people in the room, note their respective roles within the business, and I’ll promptly know what you know, and what you don’t know. I’ve come to uncover information, so I can read the signs.

Having broad exposure and interest to so many businesses and industries, it is possible to not only see similarities, but also the differences. So there are really experienced experts out around us who will see patterns and trends. They will be experienced at finding the right questions and answers, and reading the signs within your industry. These are the people you want to find and engage with.

People with experiential knowledge either possess the information or can find people with it! This is achieved by asking the right questions. Targeted questions will show what you know or don’t know, and the level of understanding and experience you have.

Being able to frame up the specific set of questions, just like I demonstrated above, is the outcome of uncovering expert knowledge that can section and categorize people, technologies, processes, strategies, and most things relating to business, so you can achieve success.

It’s Time to Stop Using Broken Old Models and Embrace Innovation

Failure is a journey down a wrong path, that is a series of poor or weak decisions and practices, based on a series of bad questions that DO NOT uncover the truth and challenge the status quo to undertake required change.

The reason the top illustration is representative of what happens around us is the adherence to old, broken models and approaches to business. It doesn’t have to be that way, and it shouldn’t be that way!

Did you know that our international accounting standards have NOT been developed to support our businesses, but to report for government taxation purposes?

With certainty, it is possible to frame, develop and implement a business and a plan that will succeed and will make money.

Your Takeaway Questions — Somethings to Think About?

We track and measure asset growth and revenue growth so that we can pay governments on annual earnings and the sale of assets. Is that a good enough standard?

Intangibles are the powerful assets within a business that create wealth and grow market share. Do you know what the intangibles are in your business that make you money? Which of your personnel hold the key ideas, relationships, and knowledge? Is any of this documented, corporate knowledge? When someone leaves your business, can you estimate what the contingent financial cost is that just hit your business? Do you know what I’m talking about? Did you know that your intangibles are likely to be worth 4 times the value of the tangibles in your financial accounts? Do you have a map, system, approach or valuation method to capture and monitor any of this information?

Powerful questions that can send your business rapidly towards the success you seek are an intangible asset you can buy or develop. Don’t settle for the status quo. Exist in it, but innovate so that your business doesn’t miss the signs of market changes — don’t head off a cliff as your market morphs and changes.

Executive Specialist Available for: USA Market Startup and Business Expansion. Advisor & Specialist. Banking & FinTech

Originally published at on April 11, 2017.