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Many of you heard my last podcast episode and I’m happy to provide a written follow up on what 7 questions to ask as you build your strategy for the first, fifth or fiftieth time.

It can be kind of intimidating when you’re ready to (re)design your business strategy. Where do you start first? What do you evaluate? What’s the yardstick you use to measure your progress? It’s like a classic chicken-egg scenario. And, you can feel all alone no matter if you’re a startup, solopreneur or president of a company with dozens of people in your employ. Many choose not to do a business strategy (re)design because it seems like too much work. It’s just easier to stay the course which is like leaving money on the table.

When in elementary school, you’re taught what are called “question” words. These words help you get information to make a decision, get clarity among other things. In English, the most common question words are: Who, What, Which, Where, When, Why and How. We have all used these words before. And, it turns out, these question words can help you create or refine the building blocks of your business without resorting to fancy templates or business jargon.

Let’s see how this is done within the context of a business strategy.

Who do I serve? This question asks who your customers are. You may have an inkling of who they are based on past purchases and market research/validation for the type of business you run. They can be current customers and prospects equally. This question also helps you understand who your customer is not. Precision is key here because exact targeting makes for a more efficient business (both costs and revenue).

What is my customers’/prospects’ specific problem? This asks what their pain points are or what makes them unhappy with the current product or service offered by your competition. It also seeks to find out how bad the pain or level of dissatisfaction is. If not that painful, then it’s time to dig deeper to find the real issue. Similar to the precision point above, not understanding the problem can be an expensive mistake.

Which of my products is the best fit for my customers and prospects? One size doesn’t fit all. This question breaks down your understanding of how to match your product or service with the particular pain or need of your customer. If you sell the wrong product, you stand the risk of disappointing a customer (perhaps for life) and hits to your reputation. “Fit” can be lucrative or expensive depending on how attuned you are to your customers.

Where do I “meet” these customers or prospects? Also, where do I service them? This is initially asking about your sales and marketing channels but, importantly, it’s also asking about how you nurture the relationship. It’s more expensive to acquire customers than it is to retain them. Essentially: do you have a website, e-commerce, live salesforce, CRM, digital marketing strategy, customer service channel(s), lead generation strategy, etc? Also, do you understand what your channel efficiencies (e.g., customer acquisition cost, technology costs, etc.)?

When do I engage my customers or prospects and when do I stand aside? If they contact you, that’s an easy decision. But what if they are just browsing? Thanks to technology, it’s pretty easy to track the movements of customers in the sales process. There is art and science to making contact. If too soon, it looks pushy. If too late, you’re competing on pricing, features/benefits which means you’ve lost the chance to differentiate yourself from the competition.

Why am I the best fit? This is asking about your competitive advantage and unique value proposition. Essentially, this is the opportunity to show how your product/service in the best light: your offering isn’t easily copied and you demonstrate you are the best fit for your customers and prospects because you understand the pain points better than your competitors.

How do I measure success? This is asking you to consider what key metrics you use to evaluate the life and health of your business. Do you measure acquisition only (overall and by channel)? Do you measure retention (overall and by channel)? If you have multiple products, you could measure margin by product. If you have customer service reps, you can measure the number of customers they help per day or the number of products sold. This list is custom to your business.

These 7 questions can help form the building blocks for your business. Let’s review them together. Set up your free 30 minute phone consult to learn how our strategy consulting services may be helpful to you. Call us at 312.208.7329 or email