Some Questions For Small Business And Home Business Owners

If you own your own small business or any of the home businesses available today, you understand what it's like to be your own boss. You can't pass the buck any higher because you are it. You're in charge of your own design, creation, marketing and shipping. There may be a lot of pressure involved, but it's also a great joy to see what you make and what you offer being used and loved by others.

When you're in the middle of every facet of your business, though, it can often be a little overwhelming. You probably just need a way to get all your thoughts on paper and take an inventory of where you've been, how you're working now and what your plans are for the future.

What follows is a long list of questions to read, ask yourself and take some time to think about. Print it out and answer a few a day or copy and paste them into a word document on your computer. Then you can use it repeatedly as a benchmark for your future performance. However you choose to use it, this list can help you get on track - or stay on track - as you analyze your strengths and weaknesses, joys and fears.

Why do you do what you do?
Why do you want to sell your goods?
What are your monetary goals?
What does your idea of success look like?
How will you know when you've achieved it?
Do you have enough time to devote to selling?
Do you have the tools you need at hand to sell what you make?
Do you have a support system in place?
What are your biggest fears?
What excites you most about starting a business?

Does your workspace nurture creativity?
What inspires you? 
Are all of your creative senses being fed?
Are there other creatives you should be gathering with?

Who are your customers?
What's your message?
What's your look?

Are you able to manage your finances?
Can you quickly present your profits and expenditures for the past six months?
Do you need bookkeeping or accounting help?
How are you collecting money from your customers?
How are you pricing your work?
Are your prices competitive with similar sellers?

Are your business cards working for you?
Have your business cards been updated recently?
Are you handing out at least one a day?
What's your elevator speech?
Would postcards help you share more information?
Do you have a mailing list?
Do you have address labels?
Do your address labels promote your brand?
Do you have a marketing plan that details how you want to reach customers.

If you sell online, how are your photographs?
Are you using a light box?
Are you setting up your photos effectively?
Have you read your camera manual?

Are you part of an online community?
Does your community have a swap?

Are you advertising online?
Have you tried a podcast?
Have you joined a collective?
Does your email signature have info about your business?
Are you participating in message boards?
Have you figured out a way to be a walking advertisement?
Do you participate in fundraisers?
Where are you currently marketing online?
How can you promote yourself to local media?
Do you have a press kit handy?

How effectively are you using social media?
Have you moved beyond the norm to use YouTube, Flickr or Instagram?

If you're a craft business, are you participating in local craft fairs?
How often are you scheduling shows?
Is your booth layout updated and interesting?
Are you sharing your story with potential customers?
Should you start your own fair?

Is your online shop up to date?
Are your policies current and relevant?
Are your pictures pretty and interesting?
Do the descriptions do the piece justice?
Are your tags and title ready for SEO?

Is it time for a brick and mortar store?
Are there spaces available in a store that already exists?
Do you want to rent or sell on consignment?

Should you join a co-op?
Can you teach a class?
Have you tried a trunk show?
Are people interested in a house party?
Can you share patterns and kits?

What is your strongest creative skill?
What is your favorite thing to sell?
What is your most popular product?
What do people ask you for most?
What is your weakest skill?
What is your least favorite part of your business?
What do you love to make but hardly ever sell?

Do you have established goals for your business?
Are you stopping along the way to evaluate those goals?
Are your goals reasonable?
Do you have a business plan on paper?
Is your time management working for you?

Do you have a mentor?
Who do you go to when you have questions?
What areas do you still need help with?
Who has an established business that reflects your own goals?
Whose business do you admire?
What can you offer in return?

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