It’s easy to spend 1) too much time in the weeds without confirming your direction, or 2) so much time seeking direction that you don’t actually go anywhere. Both are real concerns for businesses big and small.

The right balance, of course, is somewhere in the middle. Don’t assume that recalibration of your priorities and objectives is a waste of time, but don’t spend days overthinking it either. If you’re spending at least 75% of your time on execution, no matter what your level or size of business, you’re on the right track.

Special thanks to Andy Sernovitz for pointing out these 16 really smart questions that every business should ask, from Howard Mann of The Business Brickyard. Not a bad set of questions to ask yourself every couple months.

  1. What products or services do you sell?
  2. What is your core purpose?
  3. What are the biggest opportunities for your organization/product/service?
  4. What are the biggest challenges/dangers to overcome?
  5. What are your unique abilities/strengths?
  6. Who are your customers?
  7. List your top 5 primary competitors and their specific strengths as you and/or your market see them
  8. Who do your target clients think of first when “shopping” your category?
  9. What is the biggest issue that is dragging down your entire industry?
  10. What do you dislike most about your market and/or your industry?
  11. What makes your business a “tough business”?
  12. What is your organization’s durable competitive advantage? In other words, what can you say that no one else can say?
  13. Your “Skyscraper” Business. Describe (In as much detail as possible) what you would want your business to be like 20 years from today. Revenue, profit, offices, clients, staff,etc…
  14. What are the medium term goals of your organization? (Within 3 years)
  15. What are the short term goals of your organization? (Within 12 months)
  16. If we were sitting one 1 year from today, what (specifically) would have happened with your business to make you VERY happy with the results?