Don Libey’s 102 Questions

If you run a busines,  espeically a mail order business, see how you do with this list.  Spend some time on it!

These 102 questions come from Don Libey of

  1. Who really runs this business and why?
  2. Where are we in serious trouble?
  3. What changes and advances in our products and markets are we not keeping up with?
  4. What is the primary problem with our operating system
  5. Do we have positive or negative leadership?
  6. How clean are the warehouse and the office?
  7. Is our policy on education requirements for employees relevant?
  8. Who cares about the “Mission Statement”?
  9. Is anyone looking at Amazon for a clue?
  10. Who is the problem, and why won’t I get rid of it?
  11. What is the real threat to the business?
  12. If I suddenly need $4 million, where will I get it?
  13. What does the industry think about our company?
  14. Do we beneficially participate in the industry?
  15. What should we stop doing?
  16. What should we do more of?
  17. What part of the grill needs more charcoal?
  18. What is our “Density Profile”
  19. When is the last time we had an original idea?
  20. Who do we rely on for good advice?
  21. Are we an old business or a new business?
  22. What is our most valuable asset?
  23. Will our distribution model be cost-effective over the next five years?
  24. Are we seriously looking at “Cloud Computing as an alternative to our rising data costs?
  25. If we were to revolutionize the packing component of our fulfillment, what would we do to be on the absolute, lowest cost, leading edge?
  26. Why are we pushing so much paper around?
  27. Why are we not 100% EDI?
  28. How do we justify not being 100% bar code capable?
  29. Who is responsible for Big Pictures?
  30. Is there one person who completely and thoroughly understands all of our processes?
  31. When is the last time we took a walking tour of the grounds?
  32. What are we going to do about the cost of health insurance?
  33. Given the increasingly fragile nature of security, are we totally backed up and can we operate in weather, terrorist, or systems emergencies?
  34. Are we organized right?
  35. Why do we fly as much as we do?
  36. What is our primary strategy for growth?
  • More products
  • More customers
  • More Markets
  • International expansion
  • Acquisitions
  1. Given our primary strategy for growth, where do the catalog and the online channels line up?
  2. What is our end-game?
  3. What’s our “Weakest Link”?
  4. On a scale of 1 low to 4 high, how much customer input is there in our business – really?
  5. What is our chosen road?
  6. Do we have any fun?
  7. What are our merchandising strengths?
  8. What are our marketing strengths?
  9. What is the primary thing that got us to where we are today?
  10. When was the last time I personally talked with 25 customers?
  11. What percentage of sales are we loosing to “Net Gnats”?
  12. For our company, what is the truth: are in house analytic systems better or are third party, outsourced analytic systems better?
  13. Do we do nice things for our employees?
  14. Who is controlling the changes in our market?
  15. Can’t we get it all done in 8 hours a day?
  16. Do we require perfection or do we get stuff done?
  17. Has any outside thinking or influence been imported to our company?
  18. Does our CFO have way too much power?
  19. Are we preparing for European-like environmental and “green” regulations?
  20. If our business is based on quality and high customer regard, do our operating policies reflect that foundation?
  21. Are we overdue for a creative makeover?
  22. Are we highly skilled at detail, or are we highly skilled at shooting from the hip?
  23. How’s our lighting?
  24. Do we really need to grow?
  25. How much “shrink” do we have?
  26. Are we good enough to be a brand?
  27. Do we have effective merchandising forecasting systems?
  28. Is there anyone who actually looks at the orders on a daily basis and has a feel for what the customers are buying?
  29. Why don’t we do public relations?
  30. Is our photography any good?
  31. When did we last look at what we pay telephone sales reps?
  32. What does our returns processing look like?
  33. Is our circulation planning up-to-the-minute, or is it a reflection of past years?
  34. Are we selling to the federal, state and local governments?
  35. Do we have an effective image management system integrated with the catalog and web production systems?
  36. What are we doing to avoid ossification?
  37. What is the value of our “soft assets”?
  38. What are three things about this business that I believe in above all else?
  39. Have I surrounded myself with people who agree with me, or with people who are smarter than I am?
  40. During the last year, did we make at least three great discoveries, giant leaps, competitive trims, or huge improvements?
  41. Have I developed the type of trust, respect, and rapport with my counterparts in the industry so that I get to hear about and see the best opportunities first?
  42. Are we good at hiring?
  43. Do our employees- at all levels – talk to each other?
  44. How do we reach decisions?
  45. How much cash reserve do we have?
  46. How much do we know about the future of our SIC focus?
  47. What is our market share?
  48. What are we doing about paper prices?
  49. What is my definition of success?
  50. How much of our earnings is influenced by our location?
  51. Are we a multichannel marketing company, or an SIC focused company?
  52. On my senior management team, who is the thinker, who is the analytic, who is the dreamer, who is the pragmatist, and who is the sheep?
  53. Is our SIC industry fragmented or consolidated?
  54. Which of the Five Cardinal Financial Elements are our strengths and which are our weaknesses?
  55. If by tomorrow at 5pm I had to find $5,000 of savings, where would I go to get it?
  56. If I could have one person on my board, who would that be?
  57. What is it that makes this business more meaningful than just selling widgets?
  58. What is my definition of “Big Money”?
  59. What is our ratio of catalog and online sales in each of the last 10 years?
  60. How does it smell in here?
  61. How much time, attention and opportunity are we giving the “bright-up-and-comers’ on the teams?
  62. Cam I turn this business off in my head?
  63. Why don’t we use more of the 256 known types of direct marketing merchandising offers?
  64. What has been my greatest accomplishment for the business and for my life?
  65. Which 10 of the above 100 questions do I believe are the most significant for my company now and in the future.
  66. Bonus: What if I gave this to everyone?