Asking the Right Question

An shocking percentage of new businesses fail within their first year. Not all of them are the result of laziness or shoddy work on the part of the would-be businesspeople. In fact, many are founded by people who work hard and well in their chosen field, and genuinely try to give their customers the best they can.

Many well-intentioned people unwittingly set themselves up for failure when they start looking for ways to go into business for themselves. This is particularly true of people who enter such co-operative programs as franchises, affiliate arrangements and multi-level marketing systems.

What mistake do all of these people have in common? They all asked the wrong question.

A teacher once told me that, in order to obtain the right answer, you must first ask the right question. Otherwise, you will be looking at the problem from the wrong angle and overlooking important information that will enable you to solve it.

And that's exactly what's happening to these people. All too many would-be entreprenuers start looking at a business opportunity by asking what seems to be the obvious question, namely, "How much money will I be making?"

Bzzzt. Wrong question.

This is the employee's question, not the entreprenuer's. When you are working for someone else, you are being paid to do what they tell you, where and how they tell you. Since your employer is handling all those issues, you can focus on how much money you are going to get.

When you're working for yourself, you have to learn to think in different terms. You need to start with a different question, namely,:

What is my product?

Now that you know the right question to ask, what next?

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This page last modified May 12, 1999

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