I have recently been reflecting on the beginnings of my telecoms company NSN, and developing some coaching exercises for my business coaching clients based around how it went from nothing to something. Approximately a year before NSN launched I asked a previous employer and investor a cheeky question. “Any chance you can have my partner and I come and stay for Christmas at your place in the Caribbean?” A couple of weeks later we were on his boat heading out towards open water. Another question “I’ve always wanted to drive a speed boat – may I try?” And then I was bombing out into deeper waters and having an awesome experience. Later on during that trip, whilst sitting at a bar by gentle azure waters I asked some questions about a possible new business venture called New Star Networks (NSN).
Thinking back to creating my coaching exercises I wondered what if it was the very act of asking that invited an exchange of value? And what if that act of creating an exchange of value creates a bond of trust? And from a certain perspective could it not therefore be said that we build our lives on many levels of bonds of trust? What if nothing actually moves forward until a question gets asked? And so on and so forth until my coaching exercises began to focus acutely on the importance of asking questions. This article looks at examples of questions and scenarios that relate to waking up to our purpose in the business environment and how, through investing our time in asking a variety of questions, almost anything is possible.
Let us imagine you have found yourself to be a bit stuck, repeating experiences you don’t really want to have and little by little, losing sight of a way forward. Simply asking yourself some questions can be invaluable. For example if you were to ask yourself the question ‘what is really most important to me right now in my career?’ you might surprise yourself with the answer. You might further surprise yourself with how different your answer is from what you’re actually doing or what you are putting most of your energy into at this point in time.
Now what to do if the answer is something like ‘‘working on my business plan for a business I want to launch’’ when you are currently employed by someone else? Do you ignore your job and risk dropping the ball and losing your main source of income? Do you ignore your new business aspirations and lose the energy and drive that could well be all that’s keeping you energised about your professional life in general? Simply by asking yourself these questions and writing out your answers you will start to get closer to achieving what you want. All of this newly conscious information is vital in helping you to identify the resources you will need to make your next moves.
For example a question to ask yourself could be who do I know who has already done what I am trying to do? Can I identify others who have already made the jump from non-stakeholder employee to being the first employee of their own company? Doing this will eventually give you a valuable group of people to whom further questions can be directed. If you really look it won’t take long – and these kinds of people really do love real questions from driven individuals. Imagine then asking them how they shifted their centre of gravity from being an employee to a self-employed entrepreneur? And what happened next? And what was most important at each stage of the way? After 3 or 4 conversations like this you would most likely already be making the changes in your thinking that will lead to the changes in the real world that you were struggling to get your head around.
Now imagine you connect really well with one of these people and they like your ideas – how about asking them if they would consider benefiting from your new enterprise? Then perhaps ask yourself how much of this new venture do you really need to own in order to have meaningfully moved forward in your career as an entrepreneur? How much income can you survive on and for how long? Asking your new business partner how much of a stake they need in return for the level of funding you need will get you into the beginnings of a detailed business plan. Then, asking “if this business plan is acceptable to you will you invest?” will get you a final yes or no.. either way it’s all invaluable information and experience that will lead to eventually creating the right business plan to get started with the right business partner to get you further down the road than you previously imagined.
How much ground have you now covered from what could previously have been a dream displaced by your current duties and stifled by a lack of vital insights that could make all the difference? If this article connects with you then the number and variety of questions you ask should start to exponentially grow immediately, and so too will the insights and your vision of what really is most important to you right now in your career in business. Who knows where your next question will take you or how wonderful that next ride out into open waters will feel?