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Too many NGOs, businesses, and startups have failed to launch or be sustainable due to inaction by the people driving them. Whether you have your own business, run an NGO or have a great idea for a startup, learning how to harness the power of asking, coupled with vigorous action, will almost guarantee you a much longer runway and perhaps even enable your ideas to take off.

However asking must also not be confused with begging, as this is a common perception and is one of the biggest barriers in people’s minds that stops them from feeling comfortable enough to ask reasonable business questions. In the case of NGOs it is not enough to rely on sympathy or the passive suggestion of a collection tin in a retail store, even NGOs need to learn to ask more actively by giving people the option of donating.

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Ask your target market

You can hit a market with everything you’ve got and all the financial investment you could hope for, but if you’re wrong as to whether the market even needs your solution you’re full steam ahead to nowhere. You will develop a practical business idea far quicker by employing user engagement strategies such as surveys and client interviews. Your product or business idea is far more likely to succeed if you fully understand the market you’re attempting to capture and their unique set of problems that need solutions. Even if this is a much longer process, you are saving a lot of time and money in the long run.

Have the courage to ask the hard questions

If you want your business to succeed, you need to exercise the courage to ask the difficult questions. Often this can be about something as simple as payment. Be upfront about payment terms when speaking to your clients and do not be afraid to ask for better terms, because if you do not ask then the answer is always ‘no’. Never let pride or fear stop you from asking something that might lead to better opportunities or smarter deals for your business.

Asking for repeat business

Never leave the opportunity of repeat business in the hands of fate. After a successful project with a client ask them for one good lead that you can get in contact with for more work, don’t wait or hope passively that they will do it for you.

Ask me anything!

Now it’s your turn to do the asking, let’s open the conversation! Ask me, Richard Bezuidenhout, any question simply by commenting on this blog post. What would you like to know?