Ask the Right Questions: How to Effectively Analyze Your Business
Whether your business is successful or not, it’s a good idea to regularly analyze your business and see where there is room for improvement. Many companies will hire an outside consultant to address this process, but if you’re a small business owner or you like to review things personally and regularly, it’s possible to use a simple, three-step process for generating the right questions.
By defining your business, researching your business, and comparing the research and your definition, you will actually see that the right questions generate themselves.
Define Your Business
What are the goals of your business? Who are your clients and what do they value? These are some of the general, goal-oriented questions that you can later hold up against the actual feedback you collect.
Create a flowchart of your business process, and a scope study to clearly define the role of every participant. Look over financial statements and specific analysis of different departments.
Imagine yourself creating an encyclopedia entry for your business. Condensing your business vision will help you pick up on recurring themes and solidify your goals.
Research All Angles
If you’re not sure what questions to ask, have other people generate those questions for you! Consider gleaning feedback from your workers about their views, and ask them to identify their roles and how they fit into the bigger picture. Collect client feedback about your product or service and its implementation.
Also consider asking the opinion of ancillary participants in your business, such as accountants and suppliers—even friends or acquaintances you’ve discussed your business with. Sometimes you’ll find a gem of wisdom in the most unexpected place.
Analyze the Results and Create a Plan
Once you have tangible research, compare that to the flowcharts, scope studies, mission statements, and financial analysis you assembled before. Ask yourself two basic questions: (1) are the goals and results matching up and (2) why or why not? This is a good opportunity to spot problematic areas of transition in the business process, or determine if employees do not understand their role.
Assemble the disparities into a report; consider generating a discussion with your board members and/or advisors about how to make a plan of action that can address these questions and steer your business back on course toward your desired goals. In order to allow for progressive improvement, also consider asking where you envision your business in one year, five years, and ten years.