Small business owners face the unknown every day. There is an incredible amount of inherent risk involved in running your own business, and those risks can seem even more daunting from the viewpoint of a small business.
If you want to be successful, you need to be willing to face the unknown, but you also need to be able to come up with the answers you need. There are some questions that cannot be left unanswered if you want your business to be as successful as possible.
The first one is, perhaps, the most important. How committed are you? Running a small business takes an astronomical amount of commitment, with no promise of reward. If you don't honestly love what you do, it's going to be very hard to find the success you're looking for. You have to be passionate about it, or else you're going to have to work twice as hard to make a go of it (and the work will be only half as enjoyable).
The second question is nearly as important: How much is your product or service worth? We're not talking about just what you can sell your product for (although that's certainly important, too); what you need to know is what your product is worth in the market. Is it useful? Is it something that people will want? You can have the greatest product ever created, set a high sale price, and still not have it actually be worth anything. The perceived worth of your product is often more important than the actual price of your product.
That being said, you also need to worry about the practical side of selling. Why is your product or service different or better than similar offerings already in the market? If you can't be better than all of the similar items already being offered, then you need to focus on how you can be different. Can you market the same item to a different audience? Is your product an upgrade over what most people already have? Is the service you offer slightly (or vastly) different than what anyone else is currently offering? You need to either stand out in a crowd, or go to a less populated area if you want to be successful.
Are you outsourcing the right tasks? No one can do everything. Small businesses take a lot of know-how and time, and chances are that you don't know everything that you need to know. Even if you do, you probably don't have time to do everything that needs to be done. Outsourcing certain tasks can make your business more successful, as long as you're outsourcing the right things. You need to concentrate on what you do best, and accept the areas where you need more help. Maybe you love interacting with customers, but hate worrying about writing weekly blog posts or trying to make sense of the business's financial accounts. Outsourcing to professionals means that you have less to worry about. That means more time for the areas of your business that you are most passionate about.
Is your business moving in the right direction? If you're not steadily improving (more sales, more customer interest, better recognition, ect.), something has gone wrong. Take a step back to analyze where the problem is. The sooner you can catch the issue, the easier it will be to get things turned around. Have a clear idea of your goals, and create reasonable steps to reach them. If you're consistently falling short (or even moving in the opposite direction) you either have the wrong goals or the wrong plan for reaching them.
The final question is one that has only become relevant in the last several years. Are you making the most of current technology? Social media, SEO, blogging, websites, internet marketing; technology is constantly changing and growing, and your business needs to change and grow along with it if you want to be successful. If you're not making the most of social media, your website, or internet marketing, your business will never be as successful as it could be.
What other questions should small business owners know the answers to if they want to be more successful?