My good friend Andrew Griffiths is a goldmine of useful information on business success.
He's written 11 best-selling books on small business which have been read in over 50 countries.
A tool that Andrew has used for many years is a simple "success" checklist that he uses once a week, normally on a Friday morning as he reviews the week that was.
By asking himself 10 very specific questions, he gets a snap shot of his business on a particular day.
Andrew gives himself a score out of ten for each of the questions, so he can get an ongoing evaluation on how his business is travelling and most importantly
what actions he needs to take.
Here are the questions Andrew asks every week:
Q1 - Am I focused on where my business is heading?
Andrew notices that most entrepreneurs are easily distracted to run after the newest opportunity or idea that happens to flutter by.
So be focused on your core business and stay focused.
Q2 - How have I made my business better this week than it was last week?
It might be better organised, it might be a new coat of paint, it might be a new marketing campaign, a website update or a new relationship who can refer customers to you.
Q3 - Am I on top of money that I am owed?
Andrew sees more businesses go broke because they don't control their receivables than just about any other reason.
One of the best ways to monitor this is to watch your average length of receivables.
Act on slow paying customers quickly, but nicely, and draw a line in the sand on when you will get them off from getting more of your time or your products.
Q4 - How have I marketed my business in the last week?
Successful businesses never stop marketing. When times are good they market, when times are tough they market even more.
Q5 - What were my sales last week (and am I charging enough)?
From Andrew's experience many businesses simply don't charge enough.
This is generally due to their state of mind around self-worth.
One way to benchmark your charge out rates is by how many job you win. If you get every job you quote on, you are too cheap. If you get less than a third, you are probably too expensive.
Andrew likes to sit somewhere in the middle, around the sixty percent mark, he knows then that his charges are about right.
Q6 - Did I get word of mouth referrals in the last week?
If you are not getting referrals there could be a problem.
Q7 - Have I spent time researching trends within my industry?
Andrew spends at least an hour a day researching online to see what people are doing in the entrepreneurial space.
It is the best hour of his day and it has huge returns.
Q8 - How did I invest in my team and myself?
To put it simply, if you're not growing, you're dying.
Andrew notes that successful entrepreneurs always invest in growing their own skills and knowledge and they do the same with their staff.
Q9 - How have I contributed to my community?
Now more than ever, businesses are under scrutiny to show that they play an active role in the communities where they operate.
This means stepping up and giving time and money (if you can) for good causes.
Q10 - Am I taking care of myself?
There's no two ways about it, being a workaholic may bring short-term success, but it is not sustainable or enjoyable.
We need to have a very clear life outside of our business, one where we do the things we really enjoy doing and that recharge our batteries.
We also need to make sure we are eating well, exercising, and spending time with family and friends and enjoying the rewards of having our own business.
Increase your chances of success by asking better questions, more often, and you might just be surprised at the results you get.
"Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers." - Tony Robbins
Try asking some of Andrew's questions in your own business.