It’s All in the Asking

When a problem arises in business, we dive in and scramble around, looking for a solution.

We ask what the problem is; we identify it; we find a solution; we implement it.

That’s how it works.

At least, that’s how it should work, but you see, business isn’t always straightforward.

Sometimes, a solution that should work doesn’t, and leaves us scratching our heads — ‘Why didn’t it work? What’s going on?’

But what if it’s not about the solution? The devil is in the detail and it could well be the questions that are tripping you up.

Are you asking the right ones?

A crucial skill

Knowing how to ask the right questions in business is crucial. You’ll make informed decisions, implement the appropriate changes and shape your business strategy better, if you can.

Since you’ll have a better understanding of situations, you’ll be able to attack the real roots of a problem and devote time and resources more effectively.

You’ll also be able to prevent confusion, since your team will understand what they’ve got to do to keep things running smoothly. When they see the benefit of your decision, they’ll also trust you (even) more.

Harnessing the power of perspective

To ask the right questions, you’ve got to see the issues from a broad range of perspectives. If you have a sales problem, don’t just turn to your sales team for the answers. If you have an IT issue, don’t gather your IT team and brainstorm the solution with them only. Invite people from other teams, too.

Of course, it makes sense to speak to the relevant team, but why ask others?

It’s because the different experts will look at problems from different angles.

They’ll ask questions that dig deeper and can raise more forward-thinking questions. The right question could turn out not to be ‘Why aren’t I selling more of my products?’, for instance, and be ‘How do people prefer to shop these days?’ or ‘How can I adapt current systems to meet demand?’

Bringing more people into the brainstorming will increase your chances of asking the question that leads to the best solutions (and the best results).

It’s exactly how my Masterminds work; bringing in businesses from different sectors to tackle problems which may or may not be universal.

Framing the problem

Asking questions that really reach for answers sets you up to solve the problem. They provide a useful frame so that you focus your attention on the solution that exerts the biggest (positive) impact.

Don’t worry about questions that might not feel related to the topic you’re discussing. They could lead to further questions that will identify the real problem and let focus your time and resources accordingly.

Addressing the fundamentals

Naturally, if you’re going to address a problem, you need to consider the fundamentals.

That means going back to basics and looking at the five Ws:

  • What?
  • When?
  • Where?
  • Who?
  • Why?

This may take you back to the very start of your business journey.

Sometimes, as the business progresses, we lose sight of things such as why we started out on this amazing adventure in the first place, or whom we set out to serve.

Going back to these very simple questions can yield some surprising answers.

Have you lost sight of your target market, for instance?

Have you deviated from your original mission?

Being curious

Be curious and try to learn about anything and everything you can. Knowledge is power — and in this case, that power is the one to keep asking questions.

Don’t shy away from the new or the unfamiliar. Entrepreneurially, that’s fatal. Instead, embrace it all and make it part of your understanding.

As I say, curiosity empowers you to keep asking questions. And it’s only by asking ever more questions that, eventually, you’ll ask the right ones.

How do you know if it’s the right question? If it allows you to obtain the relevant information and work towards the solution that produces results, it’s the right one.

Analysing afresh

So, whenever you’re feeling stuck in business…. whenever you feel you’ve exhausted all the angles, consider the possibility that maybe you’ve been approaching your business problem(s) from the wrong angles.

That could be the very reason you’re not seeing the results you want.

Empower yourself with the ideas of others.

Empower yourself with curiosity.

Empower yourself with questions.

The solution is in your hands.

Incidentally, if your business problem is one of not earning as much as you’d like to earn, why not sign up for my FREE online training below?
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