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Utah Business

Back in the game, bolder than ever: 21 questions for a 21st century restart

We are coming out of the woods this spring of 2021 to get back in the game and to positively transform our socio-economic outlook as we have done before. There is pent-up demand for many products and services and there are new opportunities to broaden our horizons, lift our spirits, and pave the way for American inclusiveness and prosperity. The economy is the engine.  

Your top-of-the-mind recognition in business begins with your local marketplace and with your already-loyal customers who will help you create the word of mouth that will make you grow, grow some more, and find yourself ready to revitalize your world.  

This article is not about writing business plans or obtaining funds for business expansion. It is not about marketing wizardry or technology. It is about YOU. It is about being BOLD. Say the word. Contemplate the word. Do not be intimidated by it. Let the energy out. 

The purpose of this article is to prepare you to do a bold and astonishing job of winning the commitment of your team members and the loyalty of your customers. Their combined loyalty is the bedrock foundation upon which you build your bold and booming business enterprise. Your solid base of customers and their brand loyalty will be the platform from which you boldly leverage the future. The challenge for you at this moment is to set your sights more firmly on the future than ever. Get your team together. Answer the following 21 questions to stimulate your creativity and rev up your engines. I am in the business of helping you move beyond mere customer service to achieve Customer Astonishment, which is “to strike with awe and wonder” It is about the Power in Wow. It is bold!  

Power up / creativity on / boldly forward

  1. Be Different. How will you be different? How will you be different from all the others so that your customers SEE you in the crowd, HEAR you above all the noise, and REMEMBER you above all the others, so that you will come to the top of their minds often and whenever they need you or their friends need you? This is the BIG−very BIG−question that should be at the top of your mind. The goal is to distinguish your business with distinctive products and services and to be different.
  2. Reinvent. What is the greatest potential factor for causing what you currently sell or do to become obsolete? Get over it. Get past it. What will you do to reinvent your product line, your business, yourself?
  3. Think Global. What foreign market clearly needs or would be intrigued with your product or service? Why? As such an expansion makes sense or as you dare to cross the oceans or venture beyond your borders, what international leverage will you seek?
  4. Join Forces. If your product is a standardized commodity, with what other product or service could it be “embedded” or included? What is your head start on such a partnership? Nothing is impossible with the right partners.
  5. Retire Your Reliance. Which of your old products or old ways should you retire early so that this reliance does not blind-side you and distract you from investing in the next generation of products and services?
  6. Govern Boldly. If you serve in government, how would your agency transform and perform differently as a “private sector” enterprise? Be the efficient business as you enhance your vital public trust? Innovate. Govern to streamline and to facilitate the American Dream!  
  7. Set the Standard. What is it about your organization that makes your competition worry? What makes them laugh? How can you intensify their worries and silence the laughter? It is okay to be competitive. Focus your energy on beating “your previous best,” not on beating them. What standard will you set that will become the product/service standard to beat in your industry or community?
  8. Be a Household Word. How could your product become a product for every person—a household word such as Tide or Egg McMuffin? What is your plan to win the neighborhood first and then conquer your world?  
  9. Create Surprising Alliances. What business alliance would represent the most surprising partnership for you? Why surprising? Because others may whisper: “Why would Ellen’s Nutritional Boutique partner with Jack’s Fish & Tackle?” Would the alliance be surprising or surprisingly powerful? What is your plan to approach this potential partner?
  10. Change Now. If your most important customer acquired you, what would they change? Change it now.
  11. Be Far Out. What is the most far out, nearly unbelievable new direction you could create for your business or organization? What is the first step in that direction? When, today, will you take it?
  12. Stop Fear. What are you afraid of or reluctant to do and perhaps need most to do? What is the plan to break through the barriers once and for all?
  13. Simplify. If a 10-year-old child were describing your product or service in “show and tell” at school, what would stand out in their mind? What is your plan to simplify and systematize what you do so that it is easier to REMEMBER and explain?
  14. Make a New Face. If you were to put a totally new face on your product or service, what would it be? Make it easier to SEE, easier to REMEMBER, and happy!    
  15. Get Out. Where is your biggest rut? What is the plan to get out fast? Learn something new!
  16. Climb. Which is your tallest mountain? When does the expedition begin?
  17. End Comfort. Where is your safest harbor? How can you make this a reliable base of operations and not merely a comfort zone?
  18. Shine. Which is your brightest star? How will you remove the clouds that currently block the view?    
  19. Dare to Dream. If you could do anything you wanted to do with your business, what would it be? Where and when will you start? You can do anything. You can do everything. You simply do not have to do it all at once. All you must do is start somewhere.  
  20. Seize the Moment. What have others overlooked in your professional niche, marketplace, industry, or geographic region? What is your plan to seize the moment? Do not wait.
  21. Start a Positive Revolution. What pieces of a puzzle do you possess that could form the pattern of a revolutionary breakthrough for you and your customers−the next Swiffer, Super Mario, hairstyle, pastry delight, leaf mulcher, or streamlined government procedure? What leverage will you bring to bear on the opportunity? Which partners will extend that leverage? 

Break through / break out / wow is on the way!

There is energy in these questions. Read them emphatically. Ponder them all. Start with question number one and then move to the next question that really turns on your creativity. These questions will be breakthrough questions for you. These are meant to kick the brain doors open. When someone asks, “And, how do you propose to do that?” Answer with the true optimist’s answer: Yes! Simply “Yes” means you do not have the detailed plan yet, but you will do what it takes to set the mark higher for your business as you prepare to positively astonish your customers.

Finally, ask yourself and ask your team this 21st Century breakthrough question: What is theoretically possible? What is theoretically possible for your business in terms of impact, visibility, excellence, and growth? Most individuals and organizations do not answer this question boldly enough. When someone says, “That’s impossible,” I say: Nothing is impossible with the right partners. This is where I will enter the picture for you. I have worked with 300 organizational clients in 27 countries for 27 years to support their commitment to “raise the bar” for customer care by creating astonishing products, unforgettable services, and greater opportunities for the results their customers hope to achieve.

I am the author of Customer Astonishment: 10 Secrets to World-Class Customer Care. One of the prime presentations I have used to win hundreds of training contracts with my fabulous clients over the years is “10 Secrets to World-Class Customer Care.” My invitation is to visit our company’s website. You can download a complimentary copy of the presentation along with a study guide to use as you engage your team members with both the BOLD and the WOW. My Core Purpose is this…

To embolden you to distinguish your enterprise from the crowd, to build powerful business relationships, to empower your team, to positively astonish your customers, to have more fun, to make more money, to count your blessings, and to expand the good that you do for a world that needs what you have to offer.

Darby Checketts was born in Logan, Utah. He is the founder of Cornerstone Professional Development of South Jordan, Utah. He has served over 300 client organizations in 27 countries around the globe. He is known by his clients as a powerful catalyst for innovation, high performance leadership, and service excellence. He is the author of 17 books, including Customer Astonishment: 10 Secrets to World-Class Customer Care. His corporate career includes Ford Motor Company and Digital Equipment Corporation. He is devoted to his family and to our Great State. He is committed to the renewal of companies and communities as the American economy gets back on its feet again and to a shared prosperity across all 29 of Utah’s scenic, historic, and resourceful counties.