One question that can change the way you do business

While I was a Lushin and Associates, the owner always asked me, “What’s next?” We would roll out great marketing strategies that would kill it, and he would say, “Good job! But what’s next?” At the time, it annoyed me because I wanted to bask in the glory of my success, not jump into another time-consuming marketing plan.

In retrospect, I realize he was teaching me a sales mentality. The “What’s next?” question instilled in me the thought process of never being satisfied, always keeping my head up, and focusing on the vision. It never allowed my work to stagnate.

Stagnation is deadly to business.
Stagnation is a momentum sucker. As a business owner, if you aren’t thinking about what’s next for your business you become vulnerable. But “What’s next?” can’t just be a question that you ask; it has to become a mentality for your whole company.

What’s next for the production team?
The production team needs to be thinking about how to improve the product. They should be asking, “What’s around the corner and how can we do it?”

What’s next for the sales team?
The sales team needs to be asking who they’re going to add to the call sheet. They can’t be content closing a big deal and putting their feet up. They should be asking, “Where else can we go? Who should I be talking to?”

What’s next for the marketing team?
The marketing team needs to be focused on the next campaign. If your latest one was a victory, why did it work? How much effort went into it? What’s the next avenue? How do you know if it’s successful?

Everyone in the company needs to be considering how they can help propel the business forward by asking “What’s next?” If they don’t, it’s hard to gain company wide momentum.

What’s next ≠ everything
Now what I’m NOT saying is that you should do every idea that pops into your head. You need to make calculated decisions after putting your idea through a process to vet it. If you don’t, you’ll get stuck doing everything, which is obviously not sustainable.

Regardless of your role, asking yourself “What’s next?” will keep you moving forward, which will keep you from becoming complacent. The question can help you keep your eyes focused on what’s coming down the pipeline so that it doesn’t have a chance to dry up. If it does, the rest of the business will be quick to follow.

Becoming proactive, not reactive
As a company, Hatchet works with a lot of companies that fear becoming stagnant. Their heads are down putting out fires for their business, which is keeping them in a reactive state. Being proactive would be lifting up their head to focus instead on their goals. Asking “What’s next?” will empower them to do that instead of getting caught up in the day-to-day junk.

We consider it our role to challenge business’ realities. We push companies outside of their comfort zones by enabling them to become proactive as a business, not reactive. We build clients’ strategies around “What’s next?” We look at the revenue-generating departments and ask, “What have you done? What are you doing now? And – most importantly – what’s next?” Then we build a process to accomplish it, which creates the momentum every successful business needs to continue.

All you have to do is start asking the question.