As the end of year approaches quickly, it’s quite natural as business owners to start thinking about the year ahead. What plans we’ll make, the new goals and targets we’ll set and of course how we can make our businesses even better and more profitable in the coming year.

To help you with this process and get you thinking more strategically about your plans, here are four questions to ask yourself that will help you transform your business.

“What are my customers and potential customers’ greatest challenges and what is it costing them?”

Identifying your customers and potential customers’ greatest challenges will help you develop more relevant products and services, identify ways to upsell, cross sell or resell your customers and of course make it easier to position your products or services as a necessity your customers “must” buy.

Beyond that, it will also help you form more profitable alliances and referral partnerships with other businesses your customers may need before or after you, opening up more opportunities and income sources.

By answering the second part of the question, “what is it costing them?” you’ll be able to identify your customers pain points which will make your marketing messages more targeted, strategic, personalised and as a result more effective.

“What are my customers telling me verbally and non-verbally?”

Your customers are always your greatest source of learning so listen closely to what they are saying and also look at what they aren’t saying.

Are some products and services selling more than others? Do they praise you for a particular area consistently? Do they complain about a certain area consistently? Are they coming back and buying regularly? Are they referring others?

When you take the time to listen to what your customers are telling you you’ll start to identify areas you can improve, work out your most profitable products and services and find out ways to make your customers happier, more loyal and as a result more inclined to buy again and refer.

“How can I move away from exchanging time for money?”

This question addresses one of the biggest challenges we can face as business owners, particularly those of us who provide services. With time being our most limited resource, the last thing we want is our income being capped by how much time we can devote to our work.

By starting to think about what else you can do other than just charge for your time you’ll start to develop different products and identify other sources of income, particularly passive income.

“How can I leverage my time, knowledge, money, resources, contacts and efforts to further my business?”

This would have to be one of the most powerful questions you could ask yourself. Leverage will help you to grow your business quicker with less time, money and effort spent.

True entrepreneurs spend most of their time answering this question with one addition – how can I leverage other people’s time, knowledge, money, resources, contacts and efforts too?

If you start asking these questions as you do your business planning for the year ahead, you’ll be sure to make it your best year yet. What questions would you add?