The Power of Smart Questions
I think questions dictate your answers and the more powerful questions you ask the better the answers are in life and business. One of the first questions I asked that had a dramatic impact on me was in 1999 before I started my online business.
Here’s what I asked:
“How can I create a fully automated web business, that makes me money while I sleep, and is an incredible value for people without being another ebook?”
It’s from that question, I sat-up bolt upright in bed at 3 o’clock in the morning with the idea for Instant Sales Letters. And then I did what most people probably wouldn’t: I hopped out of bed, registered the domain and got to work on it. By February 2000, with about $1,500 invested, I made my first $29.95 sale. It was one of the most amazing feelings in the world to take an idea and have it turn into cash. And the sales kept coming – about $1,800 the first month…then $3,400…then approx. $7,800.00 and roughly $9,400.00 the fourth month out of the gate. I was on track to hit six-figures with my very first site – and that’s when things really started exploding. Since then, it has my first million dollar product.
That’s why I love questions.
In Robert Kiyosaki’s best-selling, Rich Dad, Poor Dad series one of my favorite distinctions was revealing. Kiyosaki tells of his “Poor Dad” looking at a beautiful stretch of beach and saying, “I can never afford to live here.” And conversely his “Rich Dad” looking at the same stretch and saying, “How can I build something here?”
It’s the questions that open you up to all sorts of possibilities instead of simply saying “I can’t afford it” and closing down that conversation in your head. Our minds want to search for answers. In fact, I used a similar question when I wanted to fund my ticket for Virgin Galactic spaceflight. I asked “What kind of product or service can I create to pay for this?”
And that’s when the idea for one of my events came together that more than paid for my ticket from the event tickets and sales of the tapes afterwards.
I like writing down my question on the top of a piece of paper and then working on multiple answers. Most times the first answers you get will be pretty pedestrian and won’t have much creativity to them. Keep pushing yourself to come up with more distinctions and sometimes even wilder answers. Don’t censor yourself either – just write. Here’s an actual example of mine with the question – “How can I get my business ideas implemented quickly and easily without my direct, day-to-day involvement?”
Here are some of questions I frequently ask myself or clients:
Q: How can I create 10x – 100x in value for this product or service?
I love this question because one of my personal statements written in my planner is ‘I get rich by enriching others 10x – 100x what they pay me in return.’ I think the more value you can provide, the more rewards you’ll be provided. It’s simply a natural law and this is a great question to jumpstart the answers. You might be surprised at what you come up with too. This opens up the avenue of not only thinking about what you can add to a product or service yourself but if you think creatively about this question, you might consider other related products or services that would be provided as a bonus or you license, etc.
Q: How can I go the opposite direction of most of my competitors?
I’m a big fan of not following the pack. In fact, I think it’s a smart idea to create your own category of goods or services if possible. Taking a look at where most of your competitors are headed and then actively making a decision to do the opposite is enough, in many times, to set you apart and create a differentiation point in the marketplace.
Q: What’s the single, most powerful ultimate benefit my customers are looking for?
The answer to this question helps you frame your headline, your offer, your guarantee, etc. A whole lot comes out of this.
Q: Who else has more to gain than I do if this succeeds?
One of my favorite questions to ask when consulting with clients since it forces to think outside yourself. Many times there might be other companies or individuals who want you to succeed because it helps them succeed. You might be surprised at what those other individuals would provide to help you too. For example, from my father’s medical equipment business we were able to get co-op advertising money from manufacturers to sell their items but unless we asked we’d never know it was available.
Q: What businesses or services do my customers already use before they would come to me?
Another powerful question that starts you heading in the right direction for partners and possible affiliates. If you strategically step back and consider what a customer does before they come to you – you’ll find the perfect partners to promote your products or services. For instance, if was an email service provider like Aweber, you’d bet I’d be trying to talk to different domain companies because once someone registers a domain they might need our services.
My friend, Tony Hsieh, CEO of $1Billion eTailer, Zappos.com uses these questions in discussions:
- What stories do they (customers) tell their friends?
- How can culture create more stories and memories?
- What emotions do customers feel?
- What do customers actually experience?
- What do customers expect?
I asked my Twitter followers and via Facebook what their favorite business or life questions were, here are a few I got back:
“What do I love doing and who can I best serve?” – Kat Tepelyan
“What is the best use of my time right now?” – Rosalind Gardner
“What would have to be true to _______” i.e. “What would have to be true for me to sell my business for $50million?” – Derek Naylor
“Am I happier today than I was yesterday?” – Capt Rob Lee
“What does my client have to already believe in order for him to eventually believe what I need him to believe?” – Nicholas Neilson
“If I only accomplished one thing today, what should it be?” – Danny Welsh
“Do I really want to be THIS guy?” (I use it to determine whether an idea is worth pursuing.) – Mahesh Grossman
“What does my client want (VS what I have to offer)?” – Rebecca Trelfa
Let’s keep the conversation rolling and leave a comment with your favorite business or life question.