Six questions every entrepreneur should ask themselves

Questions to ask yourself as an entrepreneur..

  1. Why am I not more successful?

It’s the question we’ve all asked ourselves at some point, and it’s hardly an unreasonable one.

After all, if we didn’t have the drive to achieve and succeed, we’d still be living in caves wishing someone would invent a nice circular object to roll things along on.

But too often, we don’t come up with any answers more helpful than “because life’s not fair”.

Here are our top five tips to help entrepreneurs be successful.

By cutting through all the demoralising noise, working out what you really want from your life in business and making it happen. You’re probably a lot further on than you think.

2.   What does success look like for you?

For some people, it looks like a big house with a swimming pool, a Lamborghini on the driveway and holidays in the Caribbean three times a year.

For others it looks less like earning big money and more about working less or more flexibly so they can spend time with their children.

And for others still, it looks simply like doing something they’re happy doing and which they believe makes a positive contribution to the world.

All these visions of success are equally valid – you just need to be clear on what yours is, and make sure that you are actually working towards it and not something else.

In the business world, ever-increasing profit can feel like the be-all and end-all – but that may not be what you want to focus on. Plenty of companies, from the Co-op to the Body Shop, have made ethics and social justice an integral part of their ethos – and been very successful doing so.

3.   What have I achieved so far?

Maybe you increased profit by ten per cent last year and persuaded a valuable client to stay with the company? Or maybe last week you took the time to listen to an employee who was feeling down and boosted their confidence when they needed it?

It’s important to give yourself credit not only for your big achievements but for the smaller day-to-day ones that are easier to overlook.

If you write down everything you’ve achieved at the end of each week, you’ll realise anew what you’re capable of, and will feel much better about taking on the next challenge.

Don’t forget achievements in your personal life too – you may be able to solve a workplace problem by thinking about how you tackled a tricky situation at home or with a friend.

Often we don’t realise just what we’re good at or how good at it we are – for example, you may tell yourself you don’t understand budgetingbut if you’ve been managing your household finances, we can promise you: you do.

Look at and update your list of achievements often and you’ll start to feel much more confident in what you can achieve.

And, though this may sound counter intuitive, it’s equally important to think about the things that haven’t gone so well and realise what you learned from them.

Perhaps you had misgivings about a contract but buried your doubts and signed anyway, only to have your doubts proved right. You’ll have learned to listen to your instinct next time, when it might be even more important.

4.   How can I get my name out there?

We know – it goes against the grain for self-deprecating Brits but unless you’re Natalie Portman – discovered by a modelling scout in a pizza parlour – you’re going to have to bite the bullet and sell yourself.
Look at it this way: if you believe that what you’re offering will benefit people, you’re doing them a favour by letting them know about it.

You’d be surprised at the number of businesses whose marketing and advertising campaigns don’t really get to the heart of how they can benefit their customers.

What value are you adding to your customers’ lives and why are you and your team the best people to do it? – those are the two questions you need to answer. In fact, they’re some of the most important questions any aspiring entrepreneur should ask before pursuing a venture.

Selling yourself to the right audience is crucial too: an advert for soya milk might not be best placed in Dairy Farmers’ Weekly. Or maybe it is – a dairy farmer is just as likely as anyone else to have a lactose-intolerant child who they need to provide with a healthy and enjoyable diet.

It’s about both the audience, and how you pitch the product.

5.   What is holding me back?

Running a business can be stressful and overwhelming, and at times can even feel hopeless and unrewarding. And if you’re the type of person who is prone to doubts, fears and insecurities, it can feel like it’s all one long losing battle and that you were a fool to ever think you could do it.

Don’t give up!

It’s so important to remember that everyone feels like this and that if they say they don’t, they’re lying, either to you or to themselves.

And to some extent those doubts are important: they’re what drives us to do our best.

After all, what kind of person would you be if you just assumed that you could do everything?

When insecurity stops spurring you on and starts standing in your way, it’s time to give yourself a good talking-to. Think of all the people who have succeeded against all the odds – J K Rowling’s first Harry Potter novel was rejected by 12 publishers before it was accepted.

Spend time with the people who value you, build you up and tell you your strengths – but who are honest about your weaknesses too, because if you don’t know what your weaknesses are, you can’t work on them.

Seek out mentors who can advise and guide you and don’t be shy about it – most people are delighted to be seen in that capacity.

6.   So how can I manage my time better?

That’s easy! just give us more of the boring tasks!

THP Chartered Accountants can help you with all the financial aspects of running a business, from bookkeeping and auditing to tax planning and shareholders’ agreements. So if you want an accountant who’s more than just a number cruncher, give us a call – we have six offices and provide accounting services in London, CheamChelmsfordWanstead and Saffron Walden.

Join The Conversation
ICAEW
Member of the Legal Services Guild
Sign up for our Newsletter