Did you learn as a child that it was polite to ask?

I did.

Problem is, I forgot how to do it as an adult…and it seems many of the business owners I talk to have too.

I don’t mean we’re all being rude. What I’m talking about is we seem to have forgotten the skill of asking for what we want. Instead I see so many people, not just business owners of course, waiting for things to come to them, rather than simply asking for ‘it’.

There’s a few people you can ask for things:

Most importantly, yourself. When was the last time you asked yourself a question? A quality question (or three) and took the time to answer it (them)? Most of us ask ourselves crappy questions on a daily, hourly basis. Questions like “why does this always happen to me?” or “what am I doing wrong?” As I’m sure you know, these questions don’t lead to great quality answers or actions. Just emotional gymnastics and a cycle of regret or self-flagellation. Try writing down some quality questions and then make the time to sit down and answer them later. It could be in your favourite chair, sitting under a tree or just enjoying a coffee at your local cafe. Wherever and whenever you do it, give yourself the time and space to really dig deep into the question. Some examples are “what 3 things could I do this week to improve my sales” or “what do I need to stop doing in order to have more time?” or “what knowledge do I need to enable me to make better decisions?”

Your team. This includes spouse, family, business partners, staff, suppliers etc. Basically anyone who has a stake or a vested interest in your success. Why don’t you ask them what they could do to support you in your efforts? Or better yet, ask them for some honest feedback on how you’re doing…and make sure you’re open to their comments! You could also ask them for help. Now that’s something most people have forgotten to do! Too many folks are hamstrung by pride, embarrassment or whatever other limiting beliefs to actually ask those around them for a helping hand. It might not be for a loan (or it could be) but something as simple as a system they’ve developed that you could utilise. It might be for an extra 10% performance, or some of their time and so on. Asking for help is something successful people are good at. They’re also good at receiving it!

Ask the Universe/God/Great Spirit. Whatever you want to call ‘it’ and whether you believe in ‘that’ or not, it’s very useful to ask a higher power for guidance, answers or clarity. Part of the power is in coming up with the question yourself and part of it is in listening. To yourself first and foremost but also to ‘that’ other force or energy. Again, even if you find the concept a little out there, there’s amazing value in posing quality questions to the vast unknown and listening for a response.

I should also add that, if you’re in business, you should also be asking your customers something really important…to come back and buy from you again! So often I work with businesses that are spending a ton of money on advertising and marketing to find new customers and yet they’re not asking their existing or past customers to come back! There’s many ways you can do this, with the simplest being a database and a newsletter. Other strategies include special offers, events, loyalty programs, the list goes on. Most importantly, you should have a systemised approach to inviting your customers back…otherwise you’re missing a big opportunity to improve your business and your results.

So there you have it. If you want something, just ask for it!

You might be pleasantly surprised with the response you get…