If you need to evaluate your business practices, Jeffrey W. Hayzlett’s The Mirror Test: Is your Business Really Breathing? is probably the right book to pick up. A former chief marketing officer of Kodak, Hayzlett has 20 years of marketing and managing experience. He offers a range of advice on the marketing, management and sales techniques needed to redesign your business and do better. In the section titled “Win Before You Begin: My Ace Questions”, Hayzlett lists the top 20 questions to ask before you begin a new business. Edited excerpts:
• What are you selling?
Don’t jump at everything. Consider the product or service carefully.
• How much business/money is at stake?
What are the revenue and profit goals? Quantify and qualify.
• Is the process repeatable/scalable?
Does it have enough and can it add enough zeroes?
• What have you done to assure you can pull this off?
Do you have the cash/capital, people, and systems in place to succeed? Treat time as an inventory.
The Mirror Test: By Jeffrey W. Hayzlett, Business Plus/Hachette India, 244 pages, Rs 599.
• To whom are you selling?
Identify your customers—from age to sex to race to education to relationship status…anything that will help them feel a personal attachment to you/your business and your product/service.
• Are you selling to those customers in the right way?
Loyalties are fleeting, so consistently and fiercely assure you are connecting in the right way.
• Are you charging what you should charge?
Charge what you are worth—do not compete on price!
• Are you focused on quality?
Your value proposition is not connected to price.
• Can your target customers afford what you’re selling?
Your value proposition is moot if your customers cannot fit it into their budgets.
• What and how much analysis have you done to come to the conclusions and answers to the questions asked so far?
Now is not the time to assume anything or rely on your gut.
• What is your unique selling proposition (USP)?
What sets you apart or makes you stand out?
• What is your customers’ connection to this USP and what you are selling?
Value is an emotional connection—you need to satisfy a need or want with what you sell. What is it?
Be prepared: Anticipate what your competitors will do.
• How do you compare to the competition in terms of what you are selling?
Talk to former and current clients about them. See the job they are doing. Shop them. Call them up. Stalk them. Follow them. See how they react.
• What will the competition do and say when you begin?
Anticipate: What would you do if they launched something like this? Have five scenarios prepped and know what to do if each one came up.
• What will your customers and potential customers do or say when you begin?
What will their behaviour be and how can you capture it to your advantage? Will they understand immediately or need it sold to them over time? Look at past projects to help you understand.
• What will your team do or say when you begin?
Do you have the right team to represent you in the right way? Do you believe in what you are selling and how you are selling it?
• Have you given that team the tools they need to succeed?
They should be prepared and prepped to sell.
• What could go wrong and how have you prepared for that?
Don’t just prepare for the worst—play out the entire disaster on paper and see if there is any way to prevent the problems
• How will you measure your success?
Remember: You get what you measure.
• When will the needle start moving?
Patience may be a virtue, but you’ll drive yourself crazy waiting if you don’t have a sense of timing.
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