"Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers".
Tony Robbins

Three things that will save your business:

I keep a list of questions I ask myself on a weekly and monthly basis. I now have close to one hundred items on this list that have been compiled from books, friends, consultants, advisors, and other associates. All of these questions have purpose and have helped shape who I am as a leader, as well as the culture of my company elitefts™. I spend one to two days each month reviewing the questions and then select three each week to really focus on.

I think it would be overwhelming to list all one hundred, so I have randomly selected three that I will share with you in the hopes they will better develop your business or the role you fill in a business.

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1. Unprofitable Activities

How much time have I devoted to unprofitable activities that could have been spent elsewhere?

The first thing to do with this one is define “profit.” For this question I do not see this solely as income. I value the time I spend working with charity, learning, helping others, training and being with my family. These activities have a very large value to me; thus, they are profitable. I also see the net income of the business as profit. So when I look at this question I look at it from all angles.

Theunprofitable time is what needs to be defined, eliminated and spent doing profitable things. I suggest putting a lot of thought into this one and breaking it down as much as you can.

For example:

Are you really present when you’re with your family, or is your mind elsewhere? I list this as the first question because I’ve been guilty of this many times. Being a business owner, I’m at work 24/7 and as I’m sitting here writing this I can’t think of the last complete day I’ve had off work. I do know it was sometime back in 2007. I also know for a fact that during my last four vacations I had pressing work issues going on that required my attention via email and phone. I also know for a fact that I wasn’t “there” for my family because of these situations. True, this comes with the territory, but there has to be a point where we draw the line. I would love to sit here and say I have the answer to this but I haven’t found that line yet. This doesn’t mean I’m not looking for it.

Are you spending your money or investing it? It is no secret that our economy sucks right now. Regardless of who you feel is to blame, it all comes down to one thing: Money has been spent without considering what the long term return on investment (ROI) would be. If you have a business, everything you do should have a ROI. I would go as far to say everything should have a quantifiable ROI. Will this investment move you closer or further away from your investment?

Do you give back more than your receive? Do you expect the world to drop to your feet and give you everything because you have _____? If this is the case, you need to wake up fast because the world doesn’t work that way. If you give for the sake of expecting a return, you will be in for a rude awakening and are completely missing the reason for giving in the first place. Let me pose a question. If you give someone a coat for the winter and then find they sell this coat for a bottle of booze, should that matter? I will leave you to ponder this one.

If you are educating yourself to become better at business, is the material you are reading going to be implemented, filed or forgotten? If you find there isn’t any use for the material at this time, then sleeve it and find material you can use right now. You can always come back to this if you find you need it later, but if it’s not going to add to your bottom line right now, keep moving. You can spend hours reading material you will never use or you can spend a fraction of the time reading and actually using what you’ve learned to add to the bottom line. It is not what you know that matters—it’s how you use it that will make the difference.

"An education isn't how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It's being able to differentiate between what you know and what you don't."
- Antole France

These are just some questions to ask. I’m sure if you really think about it, you will think of a few more, but those really don’t matter. It what you do that will make the difference.

elitefts™ 2011 Strongman Product of the Year

2. Strategic Objectives

Have I obtained the objectives I established for this year? I’m one of those people who see goals as limitations. I think it is great to set forecasts and have strong desires to achieve but when things are moving forward, you need to smash the pedal to the floor and run it as hard as you can, because things will come to a halt sooner or later. To pull back on sales or business is a giant mistake, but you’d better have systems in place that enable you to operate at one or two levels above where you are. This will allow for growth without major growing pains.

To develop these systems you need to have set strategic objectives of where you are, where you will be in five years, and what you will do over the next quarter. I personally think the economy has become far too unstable to forecast past one quarter. If you are setting yearly objectives, and not quarterly ones, my words to you are…


In today’s market you can be out of business within two months. Most companies don’t have enough operating capital to last longer than four to six weeks without sales, but don’t have any type of downsize plan in place in case sales fall off. This is why I like to forecast out five years and then quarterly. This keeps the vision in place but allows for more flexibility because the marketplace is crazy right now. Trust me: things can and will hit you totally out of the blue that will completely change your entire operating objective.

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3. The Turn Around

If your business was failing and you hired an expert to come in and access and audit the entire company, what would they change? If you replaced yourself with someone else who has twice the experience and success in the exact same industry and gave them full control, what would be the first thing they would change? I’m willing to bet the first questions they would ask would be:

  1. What is working? They would look to see which items, services, systems and people are adding value to the bottom line of the company. After this is determined, they would use these things more than they are being used now.
  2. What isn’t working? They would look for those systems and people who are not working, items that are not selling and services that are not being offered effectively. Once those are determined, they would be cut or altered.

As a business owner you should already know the answers to these questions. The question then becomes what are you doing about them?

These are only three of many questions I revisit throughout each year. They may or may not help your business, but will at least give you some things to think about.

elitefts™ 2011 Book of the Year