5 questions every entrepreneur must ask themselves

Asking ‘why’ rather than ‘how’ is crucial for any SME owner, says Neil Francis

There are countless business books which ask and explain the “how” questions: how to write a business plan, how to run a social media campaign, how to win a pitch, and how to get extra investment into your business.

Whilst the “how” questions are important, it is asking and answering the “why” questions which leads to successful and sustainable entrepreneurship.

Why act with love?

Love is a word we don’t normally associate with entrepreneurship, apart from through the old adage “love what you do”. But love is crucial – think compassion and value. So, why is it so important for an entrepreneur to demonstrate love? Because the outcomes of doing so will make your entrepreneurial journey more meaningful and successful. If people who you work with [colleagues, clients, suppliers] genuinely believe that you care and value them, then they will go that extra mile for you.

Why do you need to fail?

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024

The experience and knowledge you gain when you encounter failure can be harnessed to help you succeed in the long term. Failure can be a brilliant teacher, building resilience. And to achieve great success, you need to be resilient because success rarely happens on the first attempt. Failure teaches you to value success. There is nothing better than succeeding if you’ve overcome failure to get there.

Why it is about ownership?

As an entrepreneur, everything you do – small or big – starts and finishes with “you.” If you try to pass the buck, or blame to others for your own bad decisions or mistakes, then you will be on the path to failure. However, if you take ownership of all the decisions you make, then you will be on the path to success. Blame will be gone – you will be calmer, more focused and more in control.

Why do you feel lonely?

There is a specific type of loneliness you will experience sometime in your entrepreneurial career. The accepted and expected “public face” of a successful entrepreneur should ooze confidence, control, decisiveness and direction. But, because you don’t want to appear vulnerable and weak, you won’t share your biggest problems, toughest challenges and deepest fears with key staff. This will lead to a feeling of isolation and it will be one of the biggest challenges you have to face.

Why do you need a moral compass?

The best compliment any entrepreneur can receive is not that you did a great job, but that people trust you: they see that you have integrity, are authentic and are consistent. And in part this comes from setting a line in terms of your values and principles which will determine what you will and will not do in business. Not crossing your line can help give you a strong feeling of meaning and purpose.

Neil Francis is the author of The Entrepreneur’s Book: The Crucial ‘Why’ Questions That Determine Success.

Neil will be given an entrepreneurial masterclass at My Chelsea hotel in London on Thursday, September 6 at 7pm.

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024