Do you have the guts to ask for what you want?


One of my Mastermind partners, Pat Schuler of Kick Butt Sales Training, sometimes asks her clients, “Do you really want to rely on hope as a business development strategy?”


She’s got a point. Too many entrepreneurs simply cross their fingers and hope for good results, or wish that prospects and clients would behave a certain way.

Now, I fully believe that focusing on and clearly visualizing the outcomes you want to experience is a powerful, if non-traditional, business-development tool. On the other hand, all the visualizing in the world is unlikely to do you much good unless you also get yourself off the couch and take some action to create those outcomes in the here and now.

You gotta choose.One of the most underused strategies for creating a thriving business is one that’s actually pretty simple to implement – if you’re gutsy enough to do it.

Ask for what you want.

Why does this seemingly simple approach require a fair dose of courage? Because if you ask questions…

Wow. Sounds like nothing but good times, doesn’t it?

So you might be wondering what would make asking questions worth the risk of dealing with this type of aggravation. Fortunately, the potential gain is so substantial that focusing on it will make it easier for you to ignore the potential discomfort.


Asking the right questions can make the difference between surviving and thriving.

There’s almost no limit to the number of areas about which you can gather useful information by asking smart, gutsy questions. For example, you can get hard data on:

You get the idea.

It’s been said that, when diagnosing a physical illness, asking the right questions is at least half the battle in getting a proper diagnosis. The same is true when it comes to diagnosing where your business is languishing. And as important as it is to be clear in your own mind what you have to offer, there’s something else to be clear on that’s even more vital for your business’ survival and thrival (Is that a word? I guess it is now.)

What do your ideal clients think, need, and perceive?

If you’re willing to risk possible surprise and chagrin, you just may find out how to change what you offer and how you offer it, so that your products and services become totally irresistible to the clients you most want to work with. This is directly related to another reason why knowing how and being willing to ask powerful questions is a great business-development strategy.


Asking questions shows you where to make needed course corrections.

Just as relying on hope and wishful thinking doesn’t make much sense as a business strategy, neither does guessing what’s important enough to your ideal clients for them to be willing to invest their hard-earned money to get it.

So don’t guess. Ask.

Again, you may be somewhat dismayed if it turns out what you’re offering is less valuable than you think it is. On the other hand, this type of feedback is priceless. It enables you to shift resources (time, energy, money) away from low-payoff activities, products, and services, and into those products and services that your clients are hungry for.

And if, instead, you get confirmation that what you’re providing is perceived as immensely valuable, you’ve also gotten permission to consider raising your rates for new clients.


Courage + focus + effective business development = success.


Asking questions can make it easy to get people to do your work for you.

In today’s social-media-soaked world, recommendations and reviews from satisfied clients are becoming an ever-more powerful marketing tool for entrepreneurs. So when you’ve dazzled a client, ask them for a glowing testimonial. You’ll be adding a mighty resource to your marketing tool chest.

I promised in last week’s post to share a method of asking for referrals that I’ve found to be highly effective and pretty painless for everyone. Here it is.


Asking questions will spur your creativity.

Choose to ask creative questions.Let’s face it: Sometimes our thoughts can be pretty muddled. But being faced with the need to give your business a shot in the arm is a great motivator for developing a clear focus. And asking smart questions is a great way to clarify your thinking.

What’s especially interesting about this, in my opinion, is that the questions you have to ask yourself are at least as crucial as the questions you’ll ask other people.

Your creativity comes into play when you get to determine (a) what you need to find out, (b) who you need to find out from, and (c) how to find it out. Here are some questions to get you jump-started; which of them are appropriate for your situation?


And since I’m in such a question-asking mode, here are a few more:  Have you given up wishing for what you want and have chosen instead to ask for it? How’s that working for you? What have you accomplished that you wouldn’t have accomplished had you merely sat back and hoped for the best?

Or do you have so many thoughts ping-ponging around in your brain that you can’t imagine coming up with clear, confident, powerful questions of any sort? If that’s the case, perhaps I can help.

I specialize in showing overwhelmed entrepreneurs how to toss aside what’s getting in their way so they can concentrate on business-building activities that make sense for them. While I’m confident that I’m very good at what I do, I can’t be confident in saying whether you and I would make a great team or a horrible one.

Not, that is, unless we have a chance to get acquainted.

That’s easy to do, and it’s risk-free for both of us. It simply involves setting up a 30- to 40-minute call during which we can both ask and answer some questions. At the end of that brief time, we’ll know whether to go our separate ways or to start rocking.

If that sounds like a smart investment of time, just call me at 319-270-1214 or email me with “I have some questions…” in the subject line. We’ll set up that no-charge, no-risk phone call and see what’s what.

(By the way, thanks to Scott McLeod for the question-mark cookies and Beatnik Photos for the neon question marks.  I found both in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)

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9 Responses to Do you have the guts to ask for what you want?

  1. Kelly says:

    Love this …

    “Asking the right questions can make the difference between surviving and thriving.” You have so much brilliance to share, Kathleen!!

  2. What an in-depth article! I think for me, sometimes I am not sure of what I want. I will work on creating some clarity for myself and THEN I will begin asking more often for what I want! Thank you.

    • Kathleen Mavity Kathleen says:

      Dorothy, I suspect you’ve got a lot of company when it comes to getting really clear on what you want. Since this is something I’ve worked on over the years, I was inspired to address the topic in an earlier blog post.

      I also came up with a great list (if I do say so myself) of exercises you can do to get that clarity on goals that are fulfilling and delightful for you. If you haven’t checked it out yet, here’s your official invitation to do it now – it might give a jump start on clearing away the clutter.

  3. This post is packed with gems, Kathleen. Thank you. I particularly like your process for collecting testimonials. It’s genuine, simple and easy to put into practice.

    • Kathleen Mavity Kathleen says:

      Ooh, I love gems, too. So glad I could provide some for you!

      And, yes, that process for requesting referrals is probably one of the least stressful tools I’ve come across. Gotta love it.

  4. Lilia Lee says:

    Lots of profitable questions to ask, Kathleen! It is extremely hard to think in a vacuum when you are stymied. Hoping seems to be the only course open.

    I like your formula for success.

    • Kathleen Mavity Kathleen says:

      Thanks, Lilia; I like it, too. 🙂

      When I’ve mentally or emotionally backed myself into a corner and it feels like hope is the only strategy available to me, I often get un-stymied by playing the “What if?” game with myself. It goes something like this:

      Let’s say I’m in the pits because a major speaking gig I was counting on fell through — no spotlight, no pay, no chance to be part of the behind-the-scenes team creating a fabulous experience for the other attendees.

      One option is to catastrophize the situation, focus on the tightness in my chest and the regret in my heart, and generally feel like pond scum. Since I’ve been there/done that/gotten the T-shirt — and not enjoyed it — I can choose to shift my energy and my perspective by asking myself:

    • What if I was not selected to speak because it’s in my best interests to be available to focus on myself and my own growth during this conference, rather than to have to spend time helping to put on the conference?
    • What if having no “production” responsibilities during the conference gives me the opportunity to connect with half a dozen — maybe more — fabulous people who go on to become ideal clients?
    • What if dealing with this disappointment builds my resilience so that I end up being unstoppable?
    • What if dealing with it spurs my creativity and results in a whole slew of ideas for fabulous new presentations to share?
    • What if the conference planners adored my proposal and hated to say “no” to it because they simply ran out of time slots?
    • What if, by the next time this conference comes along, I’ll have created so much additional success for my clients and myself that my presentation will be far more powerful at that later date than it would have been now?
    • Does this approach take some time and effort? Absolutely. Is it worth it for shifting from stymied to strong? Double absolutely!

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