Do you consider your coaching business or healing practice successful? Or is your small business causing your duress?

If it’s the latter, there are steps you can take to help you go from business duress to business success.

Last week I introduced 4 simple questions to help you start and grow your business. They are the same 4 questions I use with my clients every day. They’re purposefully simple. Yet behind their simplicity lies all the depth and detail you need to create a successful business. Answer these questions fully and you’ll be on your way.

So let’s review what the four questions are:

  1. Who you are?
  2. What you do?
  3. Who you do it for?
  4. Why do you do it?

Pretty simple, huh? Now answer them. Get our a piece of paper and write down your answer for each question. Go ahead. I’ve got time to wait for you while you do so.

Now, take a look at your answers and see what you’ve written. Is there a question you couldn’t easily answer? Is there a question that you couldn’t answer clearly at all? Be honest with yourself – your prospective clients will.

Now, let’s go a little deeper. Each of the four questions has layers – layers of detail, layers of information, and layers of complexity. Let’s break it down a bit:

Who You Are…?

First, as a human being. What are you talents, your gifts and your passions? What are your shortcomings? What areas of your life could you use some help with? What areas of your life do you want to hide from? How do each of these questions translate to your business?

For instance, if you believe you’re not a good writer, it’s good to know that so that you can do something about it. Perhaps you hire a copy editor or take a copy writing course. Either way, you need to know where your strengths and weaknesses are so you can either utilize them or get help.

Once you identify who you are as a person, as I mentioned above, you want to know how you – as a person – translate to a business owners. Are you organized? Do you use systems? Do you outsource any of your tasks? Do people tend to feel comfortable with you? Do you have any issues with selling (read: Hate Selling, Well You’re Doing It All The Time)? What knowledge do you have of using your website or social media to promote your business? How effective is your marketing strategy? The list goes on, really.

Ideally, you want to be asking yourself how you are with every aspect of owning, running, promoting and evaluating your business. And don’t worry if you don’t know something or have large gaps in your abilities. All you have to do is ask for help.

What You Do…?

The primary answer here, of course, has to do with what you do for a living. In other words, what are you in business to do?

But it goes deeper than that. You want to also consider what your service actually is and does. Meaning, you want to consider your business offerings from the stand point of what problems they solve for the people in your target audience. In essence, you’re not just providing a service but providing a way to solve problems in people’s lives.

For instance, let’s say you’re a life coach who helps women through career change. Your offer is likely so much more than just a career coach. You may have a background you can call on that gives you a market advantage. You may have gone through a career transition yourself. You may be able to provide emotional or psychological support in a different way than your peers. Whatever the offer you make, just be certain that you’re bringing your full self, with your complete background into play here. Just remember, what you do includes what you have done.

Who Do You Do It For…?

As with the previous question, this one helps you focus more precisely on what you actually have to offer. In this case, it’s not about the offer itself, but who you’re offering it to.

Who do you do it for asks you to go deeper than demographics. You don’t just serve, for instance, women between 45 & 60 who are looking for a second career. You want to narrow your focus down to a specific type of client who fits perfectly into your specific set of abilities.

And you want to think of what problems the people in your target audience are facing. What sort of stopping points are they hitting as they are, for instance, going through a career change? Speak directly to those in your marketing.

Ideally, who you do it for is one person. Just remember that there are 100’s if not 1000’s of that one person out there waiting to find you and your service. Make it easy on them by identifying exactly who you help.

Why Do You Do It…?

Ultimately, this may be the most important question of all to ask yourself. After years of working with hundreds of clients on their websites and coaching them on increasing their business, I’ve found that the most successful business people make meaning.

While making meaning may not be, in the short term, the more important than knowing what you do and who you do it for, eventually it will be. That’s because as business owners, we need to make meaning. It may sound airy-fairy, but it’s true. I’ve seen it with dozens of clients who are successful in one area but burn out because the business they made successful isn’t making the meaning they want in the world.

So your business, to be successful, needs to make meaning. And it needs to make meaning to one person – you. It doesn’t really matter what I think or anyone else. What matter is that your business makes meaning to you. In other words, you are contributing something important to you to the world.

Do you know what that is? Do you know what impact you have on the people you touch? Do you know how your offer is making meaning in the world? Take it deeper…

The key to a successful business is clarity

To create, grow and maintain a successful business you need one thing more than any other – and it’s not even talent. You need clarity! Clarity with your business will set you free from the confusion most small business owners face.

So why don’t more life coaches, holistic practitioners and other service-based business owners take the time to find clarity?

Lots of reasons, really. The biggest one is likely fear of something. Fear of hard work. Fear of not being able to do it. Fear of being boxed in by a vision and plan. Fear of putting in the effort to get clarity only to find that you have none. All these, and more, get in the way of you finding clarity and, hence, stop you from growing a successful business.

But you know the neat thing? You don’t have to get that complex. Fear is a complex thing. Fear is what makes the process bigger than it needs to be. All you have to do is begin by answer the three questions – who you are, what you do and who you do it for. That’s it. These are the seeds you need to plant, then nurture, so they can germinate and grow into a living, thriving business.

And let me know how it goes…

How well can you answer the 4 questions in your business?

Let’s talk about it.

(note:  image from  mikecogh on  Flickr,   some rights reserved)

Reader Interactions


  1. Barbara says

    This article suggests a valuable exercise for anyone to undertake. I will cause you to think through or re-think why you do what you do and it’s real value. Well worth the few minutes it will take out of your day to do.

  2. Leon Noone says

    G’Day Dawud,
    Couldn’t agree more. I have long believed that a narrow and crystal clear business focus and a very clearly defined target market are the foundations for business success–offline or online.
    I’m old enough to remember that wonderful old adage,”do only those things to which you bring a unique perspective. Buy everything else around the corner.”

    And, of course, make sure you have fun.



  3. Frank Web says

    This blog is somewhat related to the other blog you wrote about starting a business and making it grow. Well, there are four questions and it depends on how you answer them. But I would also like to add that would make you think if you succeed or not. How well do you handle your business? Has it been running for years that no matter how many times you failed, yet, you managed to get up and make is as successful as it is today?

  4. Ben says

    I like your questions and the deeper meaning behind them. Here is another question that I like to think about. What’s your value? As in what value do your services/products bring to your customers. How can our company be of value to them. The focus needs to stay on the customer and their needs/wants and problems.

    I also liked your point about needing clarity. Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed reading it.

  5. Sam @ become webcam performer says

    An interesting point about ‘making meaning’ – I’ve found that even if you can’t answer one of more of these questions clearly, with time the answer becomes clearer. The dots usually connect in retrospect.

  6. Stock Trading says

    These questions seem relatively simple, but the deeper meanings are quite interesting. You’re right that fear can get in the way of success – I sold one of my businesses far too early because I was scared of not getting my investment back. If I had kept at it for a few more months, I would have made substantially more money. I’m now building a business that I intend to keep and make profitable – I’m hoping that I’ll be able to stick at it this time!

  7. Virginia DUI Lawyer says

    I like your ideas about the four questions that you’ve posted. This is very informative for all of us who engage in the business. I believe that successful people vibrate at a different frequency than those who are not successful. Through the process of entrainment your frequency will entrain or equalize with theirs. This is also one of the reasons why your thoughts have such a profound effect on your life.

    Thanks allot for the Idea..I’ve learned from it.

  8. Sytek MN Directory says

    Starting and running and running a successful business can be rewarding and challenging. Success requires focus, discipline and perseverance. However, success will not come over night – it requires a long-term focus and that you remain consistent in challenging environments.

  9. Candida Pugliesi says

    I agree with your assessment that you need to determine in writing jsut waht it is that your business’s purpose is supposed to be, and then go for it. If your gaze is too wide, you’ll find yourself wondering why your’e not making any money as your focus is spread too thin.

  10. leather armchair says

    It is a great article but whenever I try to make business according to who I ‘am’, then I don’t really cater to the masses and hence there is little demand for my product. Right now, I am in despair and confused.

  11. Brian says

    This is surely an inspiration. We are just starting our first business as of this moment. i hope this will be a great inspiration for our new business. Thank you so much.

  12. Glenn Forrest says

    Like many others, I agree with what you’ve written here, and plan to put it into practice with my own endeavor. Thanks for sharing.

  13. bistro tables says

    I think you should expand this article and make a detailed blueprint as to how to ensure business success: at the moment it has some ideas but some concrete steps would be great for those of us who are in need of a step by step guide. Best Wishes, Selena.

  14. Lyan @ Artificial Hedges says

    The questions are asking how do you know yourself better than other people. And “Why” will always ask for explanation. Good thing that it’s in the last number. =)..These questions will help me in the future if I will build my own business. Thank you.

  15. Oil says

    I like your thought on “You need clarity”, but once you have it you must make sure to keep it. Business is confusion at times so its easy to lose ones clarity quickly. Focus on the clarity seems to be the ticket.

  16. custom headache racks says

    I think the most important one on your list is “why do you do it?” Passion in small business can be lacking sometimes. I am passionate about the products manufactured by the company I work for! It’s made all the difference.

  17. Casket Store says

    Clarity is definitely a key in my opinion as well. Information at often times can seem to clear in our heads but can result in ultimate confusion when it comes out of our mouths (or keyboards).

    An unclear message is as good as no message at all.

  18. George says

    that must mean that clarity AND a decent talent may make you unbeatable 🙂

    but i think if everyone works out well, you do not need too much clarity just go on and don’t think too much about it! just do it!

  19. copyright business says

    business is early of the turn or looking to catch up, small businesses on both sides of the track can discover from the success

  20. Calgary Escort says

    I’m planning to upgrade my business soon and the four questions you’ve posted will surely be my guidelines in analyzing my business strategies and objectives. I’m looking forward for your next post. Thanks a lot.

  21. SQL training says

    For a business to make sense, one should understand the reason behind his business and know how to take steps to make it betters, he must also chalk out his mistakes and then try to mend it.

  22. Edmonton Real Estate says

    Simple Questions but in Business World this is so challenging. In business sector you always have to stick to the plan. For a business to be successful risk is always the main thing you have to do. Most businesses starts from struggle to progress, we have to learn from that. Thanks for sharing your blog.

  23. Sarah | Google SEO says

    I couldn’t agree more regarding the discussion on clarity. When I started my first business I had real difficulties translating my ideas into an “elevator pitch.” In my head I knew exactly what my business was for and who would benefit from it but I was just unable to articulate this. It wasn’t until I invested time into refining how I would describe my business to others that I could really nail my marketing strategy.

  24. Barry says

    Your 4 questions are very simple but excellent. I think many small businesses fail because they forget about the basics and lose track of why they started a business to begin with.

  25. Business Logos says

    Fascinating article, however it doesn’t really seem to apply to the mid-size business unfortunatly… Thanks Though!

  26. Pittori Ritrattisti says

    Though simple, the questions are very significant in starting a business. Truly, putting up a business isn’t that easy, it takes a lot of risk and planning. Passion and expertise in a certain field is also a big advantage for the line of business you want to set up. One of a kind post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  27. Online Free Video Watch says

    or a business to make sense, one should understand the reason behind his business and know how to take steps to make it betters, he must also chalk out his mistakes and then try to mend it.

  28. Hans Georg says

    Thanks for the info. This is a good overview of where I can start to be thinking about my business Ideas. I have been trying to come up with something for a while and this definitely gets me going in the right direction.

  29. Auckland Lawyers says

    To be honest, the hardest question for me is #1 question, sometimes it could be so hard to identify yourself, and sometimes we need someone else to help us answer the question.

  30. Sports News says

    I totally agree with business logos, as for as the small businesses are concerned these tactics may not help.
    Anyways thanks for sharing.

  31. ManPuppyMen says

    It’s true; success is not always measured in dollar revenue. I’ve had jobs and businesses with MUCH higher incomes than I presently have, but if all that money just goes into vodka, does it really matter?

  32. Arnold Ramirez says

    For many entrepreneurs, particularly those selling products and services to other businesses, it’s important to go beyond standard sales calls and off-the-shelf marketing tools in order to build relationships with top customers or clients. When was the last time you spent hours, or even a full day, with a customer-not your sales staff, but you, the head of your company?

  33. Shanker Bakshi says

    Yes, this is very critical, clarity in your vision, otherwise it may drag you to a wrong track, one must be very clear in his vision and what he want to achieve.

    Thanks for sharing your Insight and forcing us to re-think on our strategy for success.

  34. Cathy Goodwin says

    You’re right – the toughest questions are deceptively simple! I also ask, “What makes you unique, i.e., what’s your ‘fab factor?'”

  35. bob richards says

    Making meaning should not have anything to do with the business product or service. Meaning to the truly successful is expressing a personal value, such as excellence. If I were a financial adviser or built nuclear reactors, the meaning would be the commitment to be an excellent financial adviser or building the safest nuclear reactor. Meaning transcends the product or service.

  36. Ashish Goel says

    Starting a new business involves total commitment, sheer hard work,ability to stand firm in times of setback and moreover a burning fire in the stomach to succeed at any cost. These is the only sure shot way starting a fresh business venture.

  37. Houston Criminal Attorney says

    Good one..Which makes other to think on our self, I’m impressed with your content and it is really too good!! Thanks for sharing this with all..

  38. Body Language says

    Very simple questions yet carries a big difference and full of essence. Yeah right, before digging in into business, you have to consider these important factors. From a simple questions, you can build great and successful business. Believing that you can do it will really help you to strive for more. Clear vision and mission for your business is a must. Anyway, thank you for sharing this astounding information with us.

  39. Translation agency says

    I agree with the commenter above. Passion for what you do is so important. It’s also the part that makes having your own business so reward. You might not get rich (immediately) but you still love it!

  40. Bulk Solid says

    Simple questions but means a lot especially to those who are planning to set up a new business. These questions can be a great guide in analyzing and formulating your business strategies and goals. Very informative post, thanks for sharing.

  41. Claire Gilbert says

    These 4 questions were good for thinking through and reevaluating what I do to help people and to make a living. With what I do as assistant to my husband who is a real estate agent, it has to be about helping people and liking to help people.

  42. buyingandsellingwebsites says

    The article is great. From my point of view, I think the entire article answers one basic question. From where you are standing at a given point in time, where do you really want to go. Answering the question would give someone a clearer picture of the present and the future of the business.

  43. Types of orchids says

    These questions are simple yet they are often most forgotten or rather neglected. We think about what we make out from it now without thinking too much in future perspective.

  44. jyoti says

    Thanks for sharing information for great guide in analyzing and formulating your business strategies and goals. Very informative post, thanks for sharing. I really impressed and want some more stuffs again for this post.
    blog post content

  45. success in business says

    Very useful questions in terms of speculating ourselves. Generally we do not care about these questions and also some time we overlooked these. I want to add here that it is not easy to answer such questions. People generally do not know the clear answers of such questions as they don’t have the clear mindset and they find themselves in a dilemma.

  46. Plumber Hertfordshire says

    No doubt these question matters a lot while doing any kind of business,you explained it very well and properly.

  47. Dubstep Contributors says

    Simplicity lies all the depth and detail need to create a successful business exactly right i totally agree with you.

  48. Consulmex Munich says

    This article suggests a valuable exercise for anyone to undertake. I will cause you to think through or re-think why you do what you do and it?s real value. Well worth the few minutes it will take out of your day to do.

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