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Small Business

Manage Your Business

3 questions every business owner should ask themselves

Help grow your business, deal with roadblocks and see beyond the horizon

Mel Robbins is a motivational speaker and third generation entrepreneur who's launched and sold two companies and currently owns and operates a multi-million dollar publishing and speaking business. Best known for delivering one of the most popular TEDxTalk's in the world: "How To Stop Screwing Yourself Over," she is also the best-selling author of "Stop Saying You're Fine" and her newest book "The 5 Second Rule." Mel is on a mission to help people reach their maximum potential at work and in life.

As a third generation entrepreneur, I understand that owning and operating your business is deeply personal. You started your company for personal reasons. You run your company based on your personal style. And, like it or not, your success or failures often hinge on the decisions you personally make.

Like you, my biggest challenges are managing the pace of change, technology innovations and the day-to-day pull between "working in my business" while trying to "work on it."

Over the years and after hundreds of conversations with fellow entrepreneurs, I've developed three questions that help me focus on growth, lead with confidence and make clear decisions. I use them every single day.

Mel Robbins

1. What must happen today?

Discipline and focus are critical for business growth. This question, "What must happen today?" is so obvious it's often overlooked. As soon as you wake up and before you pick up your phone and check emails, ask yourself this question. Write the answer down, then pick up your phone.

As Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, said, "the key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities."

To achieve your goals, you must set them. And you must do it every single day. The days I forget to ask myself this question are the ones spent hijacked by phone calls, meetings, putting out fires and other people's priorities.

2. So what?

You've mastered your market, hired the right people and worked tirelessly to make your dreams come true. But what happens when there's a setback? What if your best employee quits because your communication style is falling flat, your restaurant is robbed or the competition is the new hot thing in town? In these moments, it's critical to get strategic, not emotional. If you are rattled, everyone else will be. And, you'll miss the opportunity inside the setback.

Ask yourself, "So what?" That question will stop you from going down an emotional rabbit hole, help you cut your losses and spot opportunity. And that's critical. One of the most destructive decisions organizations make are due to the "sunk cost bias"—a scientifically proven tendency to continue an endeavor once an investment has been made in an attempt to justify "sunk" irrecoverable costs.

If you've never experienced sunk cost in a business endeavor (congrats!), you've most likely experienced it in a relationship of some sort. You keep a friend or partner around that doesn't bring value to your life for too long—that's the perfect example of sticking to something solely because of time, not because it pays off in your business or life.

Mel Robbins

3. What's next?

This final question will help you move beyond a setback and help you disrupt your business before someone else does. Ask yourself, "What's next?"

In businesses large and small, there are examples of this everywhere.

In virtually every industry we utilize today, the innovators who constantly look ahead for what's next are the ones who win. Whether that's making taxis mobile, movies downloadable, or cameras digital, asking yourself what's next is a critical gut check for your business, yourself and your industry overall.

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