Business owners often navigate uncharted territory, facing setbacks of many kinds. But have you noticed that some leaders grow from mistakes and challenges while others recede into the background? The questions you ask when you are faced with significant issues in your business can make all the difference.
Peter Irvine, Executive Coach to thousands of business owners and entrepreneurs will unpack the 7 key questions good leaders ask themselves to unlock the growth potential in their business during a period of disruption.
1. You Need To Talk To Yourself
Leadership is not easy, especially in a business climate that is constantly evolving. Rapid technological changes, new Government regulations and increased competition can all cloud our vision and make it difficult to forecast what lies ahead. As business owners, we often have a script that plays in our heads when things don’t go to plan. If we are not careful, we can start to operate in high alert mode and completely miss the opportunity to grow through the experience. It’s during times of testing that the words of famous UK Preacher Martyn Loyd-Jones ring true:
Rather than just accepting the circumstances as they appear, you need to ask yourself important questions to refocus your business and keep it in the right direction. For me, this is all about knowing how to keep a healthy distance from the wall of work in front of me so I can step back during critical times. I had to develop a habit to take time out and, working with a trusted business coach, ask myself these crucial questions to steer the business into fulfilling its higher purpose.
2. What Brings You Joy?
When you feel under siege in your business, it does not seem like a practical question to ask “What brings you joy?” Yet it is this exact type of personal reflection you need to undertake in the midst of a business difficulty.
By knowing what makes your heart sing, it can help motivate you to overcome the obstacles in your path. The author of the Book of Hebrews reminds a church-going through many setbacks that one of the keys to fulfilling their calling as a Christian community was to look to Jesus through difficulties. Jesus is our example of how to face temptations and trials of various kinds: from a position of joy and not of despair.
Christ now has all power, dominion and authority (Matthew 28:18, Ephesians 1:21). It is from this place of victory that we need to operate from as Christian business owners and entrepreneurs.
3. What Makes Me Cry?
Your heart needs to be in what you do, especially when the crunch time comes. Too often we separate our head and our heart when we are running a business. What touches your heart, serves as an indication for where you should be spending your energies as a business owner. It is the areas that you see in the world that give you great discomfort that provide you with the clarity you need during a business storm for where to invest your energies.
One of my favourite examples of a Christan-based enterprise that was birthed from a burden to correct an injustice is thank you. Reacting to the World Water Crisis, the first product was bottled water but has since expanded to 55 products. Dreamed by Daniel Flynn, the social enterprise commits 100% of profit to end global poverty.
Not without its challenges, Daniel and his team have been able to weather a number of storms because they knew what made them cry and it gave them the courage needed to withstand multiple business challenges like $250K in start-up expenses, two recalls, trouble with bottlers and distribution deals with several major retailers falling through. Today thankyou. through its operations, has contributed to hundreds and thousands of people obtaining access to safe water, toilets, child and maternal health programs.
4. What Makes Me Dream?
Submitting your thoughts and dreams to God can bring great renewal to your thinking and allow you to see the bigger picture. When you are putting out fires day in, day out, it can be easy to view God as a firefighter, where you are asking God for immediate help. But this short-sightedness is limiting God into our own goalposts. What if the trial before you is for a much greater purpose? Have you allowed yourself to dream with God, bringing your failures and brokenness in your business and giving Him room to turn your business mistakes into something that glorifies Him? The Book of James tells us that trials and temptations are to form in us greater depth of character:
Don’t let disappointment in the past dictate your future in business. By praying to God and submitting to His will, you can persevere through difficult times. You will grow in character and the disruption will prepare you for the next part of your life and business journey.
5. What is Uniqueness?
When new competition comes into the market, it’s very easy to lose your footing as a leader. You need to ask what makes your business unique from others in the market. Put another way, how does your organisation provide goods and services in a way that is not easily replicable to others? We are increasingly living in an automated world. Businesses that lose their human creativity and spark face being obsolete within a short window of time. An experienced business coach can draw out the gold from you and your business which is vital if you are to transcend new market conditions.
6. Is There a Simpler Way of Doing This?
Don’t become a victim of disruption in the market by doing nothing. When you are losing money and the bottom line isn’t looking as good as it did a few months ago, you should be asking yourself what you need to change in your business to cut back on costs.
We often adopt complicated processes and systems without being aware that there are far simpler solutions available. It can be difficult for us to implement new systems and processes if we haven’t set aside an adequate budget for training and development. There are coaching programs available that more than cover the initial cost of investment through providing guidance on the latest IT software that can reduce repetitive tasks and streamline projects.
7. What Can I Learn From This?
While no business owner or entrepreneur is a stranger to failure, even failure carries with it the seeds for future growth. Observing the lessons we learn from hard times, gives us fertile soil to grow new initiatives and strategies. Again, being able to step back and see where we may have gone wrong, better positions us to choose the right strategy moving forward. I’ve also relied on other business leaders that I respect to offer their perspectives on areas of my business that need reviving or are simply not working and need a completely different approach given the business environment. It makes all the difference in the world when you allow yourself to become vulnerable as a leader by discussing with respected business leaders the difficulties you face as a business. Their insights will motivate and encourage you, often because they have had to wrestle and overcome similar challenges.
You see better with a bird’s eye view
Seeing the bigger picture takes a commitment to setting aside the time to ask the right questions that will help shape your business into something far more sustainable and profitable in the long-run. Learning from trials and challenges is the only way to become empowered to address future challenges your business will face. It’s worth the time (and sometimes a bit of pain) to be as honest as you can so your enterprise can become the business it is called to be in God’s Kingdom economy.
About Peter Irvine
As Executive Coach of Business On Purpose (BOP), Peter Irvine trains business owners and entrepreneurs to learn the principles of self-reflection so they can catapult towards their business vision and come alive to the full purpose and potential God has for them in their life.