3 Simple questions to simplify success

1. What do you do (that gives you joy, because why bother if it doesn’t bring you joy)?
2. Who cares about what you do?
3. How do you get to who cares?

That’s it – three essential, monumental questions for every entrepreneur. Whether you’re a hairstylist or a blogger, a lawyer or a widget seller, it’s the simplest questions that will illuminate the way. I’ve been using this inquiry strategy for years to build businesses and it never fails to light up what the top priorities are.

Like most simple things, you have to examine each question from every angle to fully glean its elegance and power. No matter what stage of growth your company is in, the answers to these questions should drive your daily actions.

Let’s use a hairstylist for example. {I happen to think hair stylists are seriously powerful citizens. You want to firmly plant an idea in the minds of thousands of people? Tell a hairdresser. He or she has the rapt attention of dozens of people a week. Salons are hotbeds of news and inspiration.} Back to success…


YOUR PRODUCTS + SERVICES. Most entrepreneurs actually “do” more than they perceive. Examine the benefits and the unintended positive consequences of what you give or make. Look for the deeper meaning of the result of your work.

1. What do you do (that gives you joy)?
Stylist says: “I cut hair.”
Me: No, really, what do you do?
Stylist: “I make people feel beautiful.”
Me: Uh huh. You’re getting it.
Stylist: “I’m a healer who happens to give highlights.”
Me: If you say so, then BINGO!

YOUR MARKET. Pay careful attention to who you actually attract … how do the people who buy your services or use your content/product see the world, what do they read, where do they shop, who do they listen to, what are their values?

2. Who cares about what you do?
Stylist: “Humans with hair.”
Me: Could you be more specific?
Stylist: “Women…People who want to look great…Women between 20 and 50 who want the best possible cut and colour for under $100 … and like to talk about personal growth and baking.”
Me: Excellent. That is YOUR market. And the only market you need to care about is your own.

MARKETING TO YOUR MARKET. Effectively accessing your audience means that you’re reaching as much of your market with the least amount of effort. Quality + Quantity + Leverage. Repeat that to yourself before you spending a dime on marketing. Look for leverage points, vocalizers, mavens, influencers to spread the word for you … from the right trade show or celebrity, to the local socialite or class president.

3. How do you access who cares?
Stylist: “With business cards and an ad in the yellow pages.”
Me: Is that how the majority of YOUR market comes to you?
Stylist: “I get my very best clients by word of mouth referrals.”
Me: Whose word brings you YOUR market?
Stylist: “Becky the Realtor tells everyone. Janice is a total maven, she’s sent me at least ten clients. And Josie with the bakery and the flaming red bob … she’s so well connected.”
Me: Great. Give them each a free hair cut and a stack of business cards.

The formula for success is usually so simple it takes some time to really see it. The answers may take a while to find. Keep peeling back the layers until you come to the most elegant truth. Because the truth is what works. Simple.

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