In class last night, a student commented that she felt bad when she was completing her diagnostic questions. These questions challenged her thinking about her competency and her behavior. She said that she, “felt convicted about her actions.” When I told her that this was good, she looked at me like I was from Mars.
Of course, it was not good that she was getting poor results, but it was good that she was getting honest feedback. If she is honest, and she is willing to do something with that information, she has that which she needs to improve.
People require honesty to grow. Without honesty, our best efforts will fall short.  This is true personally and within organizations.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is known for its12-step program. The fourth step requires participants to make, “a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”[i] It is only in the deep, soul-searching examination that they fully come to grips with their issues.
So it is with you. You can only improve when you fully know yourself. That means knowing your strengths and acknowledging your weaknesses.  If you are a small businessman, you are probably good at a few of the essential business skills, but you are probably also poor at others. This is common, but most people do not like to think about their deficiencies.
The challenge is to know yourself well enough to understand your strengths and weaknesses. Below is a list of major business competencies. The list is not exhaustive, but it should be a good starting point. Be honest and evaluate yourself:
Essential Business skills[ii]

Very Weak    Weak    Average  Strong Very Strong
Accounting 1 2 3 4 5
Financial management 1 2 3 4 5
Marketing 1 2 3 4 5
Sales 1 2 3 4 5
Customer service 1 2 3 4 5
Communication 1 2 3 4 5
Negotiation 1 2 3 4 5
Leadership 1 2 3 4 5
Management 1 2 3 4 5
Planning 1 2 3 4 5
Delegation 1 2 3 4 5
Time management 1 2 3 4 5
Problem solving 1 2 3 4 5
Networking 1 2 3 4 5
Other 1 2 3 4 5

How to Use the Survey:

  1. Review the list and rate your strengths and weaknesses (1 is very weak; 5 is very strong).
  2. Circle the categories of competence that are mission-critical to your success. Not all areas will be critical to your success. It will vary depending on the nature of your job.
  3. Identify the two or three weakest areas that you have circled as mission critical. Place an asterisk(*) next to these. These are the areas in which you either need to grow or staff with experts who can provide sound advice.

What About You?
Now you know where you need to focus. What will you do from here?
[1] The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. (n.d.). Alcoholics Anonymous. Retrieved from
[1] Essential business skills (n.d.). Small Business Development Corporation of Western Australia. Retrieved from