It’s a pretty bold statement to make, but I can sum up the top two reasons why businesses fail or at least fail to thrive. These could also apply to friendships, marriages, personal growth, or a myriad of other circumstances, too. It’s because these are such tough questions to ask day in and day out and so difficult to take repeated, tireless action on, that I can say these are the over-arching reasons for failure to grow or thrive in a business setting. It’s because it has everything to do with how you weekly,
daily, hourly – regularly – ask and answer these two questions.
1. “What If?”
2. “And So?”
Knowing to ask the first question, what if, is only the starting point. You also have to ask the right “what if” question. Sometimes that’s hard to discern. For instance, “What if I begin using social media marketing?” is a pretty broad question. It may not lead you to the right answers. A better question would be, “What if I outsourced my social media marketing to someone who knows more about this than me so that I can focus on the things that I do well in my business?” (Clearly a perspective we would applaud!) Another example could be, “What if I made one new meaningful local contact every week to generate new business leads?”
Start by asking yourself, “What if I changed _______?” (fill in the blank)
But the trickier part is to ask and respond accordingly to the second question. “And so,” means that if something changed, it would do so because you have faced the obstacles in your way and attempted a solution. Not all of your solutions may work, but there will never be any results without the trying process. “And so” says that you are projecting the steps that need to happen and taking action on them. You won’t always anticipate each step perfectly, but in the process of taking action on as many of those steps as you can, you will undoubtedly begin to discover new ways to engage your business, new opportunities, and be inspired by new doors that open along the way. Each “what if” will inspire new “and so” possibilities, which by the way, will need to be asked anew on a regular basis.
Finish by asking yourself, “And so what do I need to do about that now?”
Back to the example of making new contacts every week…a new contact in an unrelated field may accomplish the checklist “to do” item, but it’s not meaningful to your business. To create a new meaningful contact every week, you might have to join a new networking group, take up public speaking, hire help to get you in front of new contacts, etc. And so if you want the new contacts to develop, you will begin the process of taking the right steps towards that goal.
A breakdown at any point in this two-step process represents a single failure – something that can be adjusted for on the next go-round, but failing to start this process at all will cause the business to fail. It really is that simple.