By Stacy Eads
December 14, 2023

110 think tank questions 

Dive into the top 110 Think Tank Questions for Entrepreneurs to revolutionize your strategic planning.

As the calendar rolls to December and you prepare for your holiday festivities with family and friends, ’tis also the season for annual strategic plans and budgeting forecasts. Executives across America will gather. Some will sit in dimly lit boardrooms with mahogany walls adorned with Inc 500 plaques, while others take a more modern approach of executives hiking to a retreat in the woods for solitude and peace. Either way, their goal is the same: to “think tank” their way to success in 2024 before the starting line gun goes off on Jan 1 and the race begins.

In honor of acclaimed business thought leader Verne Harnish, I bring you a compilation of the 110 Best Think Tank Questions for Entrepreneurs. After all, he once said: “We have the answers, all the answers. It is the question we do not know.”

I am a part of an international group of executive coaches on a mission with Verne Harnish to impact 20,000 Scaling up firms throughout the world. Our “One Page Strategic Plans” aim toward the four decisions every company has to master in order to scale their company’s valuation: People, Strategy, Execution, and Cash. The leadership it takes to go from good to great has to be constantly honed with intelligence. 

Each of these pillars of growth: People, Strategy, Execution, Cash, and Leadership have been crucial themes of this Scaling Up with Coach Stacy column each and every month. So, I’ve divided the Top 110 Questions I’ve gleaned from business books over the years into these five pillars to help you hone in on a particular area you’d like to improve in 2024. Enjoy!


  • Who are all the stakeholders of your company? (Employees, Customers, Vendors, Sub-Contractors, Bankers, Community, Etc.)
  • Are all stakeholders happy and engaged?
  • What metric can you track for each stakeholder that will measure what they need/want from you?
  • Knowing what you know today, would you rehire all of these stakeholders? (not just employees, even re-evaluate your banking relationships, contractors, suppliers, and more.)
  • Can everyone in my company recite a simple 4-6 core values?
  • How would my leadership team rank if we lived up to each of those core values this year on a scale of 1-5?
  • What is the culture of my business? 
  • How does the culture of my business need to change or improve next year? 
  • How can I water and fertilize my A Players to not only retain them, but grow them?
  • What skills would my team need to acquire to double my sales? 
  • What needs to happen so that every employee knows and executes according to the Value Proposition we have adopted? 
  • If I have B Players on my team who fit the core values and culture well but need to level up their skills and training, have I identified their mentor and their learning path?
  • Do you want more people paid less or less people paid more? Why?
  • Do we have a know-it-all culture or a learn-it-all culture?
  • How do we specifically encourage a Growth or Fixed Mindset in this company?

Additional Resources on this Topic:


  • Can the whole company state your business strategy simply?
  • Is your strategy driving sustainable growth?
  • What should be my main message to the market? 
  • What is unique about my proposition that my competition either cannot or does not offer?
  • Do I give the consumer a real reason to discriminate in my favor?
  • How do you remove the risk of the customer switching to you? 
  • What can I do to make the competition irrelevant by creating a leap in value and experience for the consumer/buyer? 
  • What can I do to create demand rather than fight over demand? 
  • What are the best forms of communicating within my marketplace? (Salespeople, direct mail, advertising, events, tradeshows, social media, PR, cold calling, networking, etc.) 
  • What new form of communication did we try last year, and was it successful?
  • What are the five things you could do (which cost less than $1,000) to spread the word about your business? 
  • What strategic or “tie in” relationships could you form with other businesses? 
  • What can I do to keep the customers I currently have? 
  • What can I do to reconnect with customers who have fired me? 
  • What can I start doing (specifically) to work on and deserve more referrals and/or repeat business? 
  • How can I begin asking for referrals? 
  • If I could no longer advertise or prospect, what would I need to do to sell “by referral only”? 
  • What can I do to ask for customer feedback? 
  • How can I get this feedback from customers faster? 
  • What BUSINESS am I in versus what PRODUCT do I sell? 
  • What are my underutilized assets or strengths? 
  • What if my competition was not my benchmark? 
  • What are the businesses I admire doing right now? … or What are the businesses I enjoy doing business with right now? What can I do to replicate their experience? 
  • What can I innovate to better meet my ideal customer’s needs/wants? 
  • What are the opportunities I am seeing in the market, and how can I begin to drive my business in that direction? 
  • What needs to happen (specifically) for me and my business to be in the top 10% in my field/industry? 
  • What are my “leading” indicators of growth? 
  • Where is there a niche of “compromised” customers who are displeased with the industry standard? 
  • Who are my best (or core) customers? What can I do to show them love? 
  • What are the few critical drivers to double my sales? 
  • What are the major constraints preventing me from achieving 10x my current sales? 
  • What would I have to do to be in the top 10% of my industry? 
  • How can I better deliver my business’s value proposition to my core customers next year? 

Additional Resources on this Topic:


  • Are all your core processes running without drama?
  • Is your execution driving industry-leading profitability?
  • What am I doing INCONSISTENTLY right? 
  • What am I doing CONSISTENTLY wrong? 
  • What have I tried in the past that was a total failure, and what did I learn? 
  • What should I be doing MORE of? 
  • What should I be doing LESS of? 
  • Assuming my business would be significantly bigger if I still had every customer who had ever tried me, what are the major client retention priorities I need to focus on and execute? 
  • Where are we confusing “activity” with production? 
  • What needs to be measured (and how often) to ensure we are executing the critical drivers of our business? 
  • What trade-offs and sacrifices are required to make significant progress towards doubling our sales? 
  • What have I tried in the past that worked (or could have worked), had we given it enough time or executed it properly? 
  • What could I do over the next 3-6 months which would have a material impact on my sales or could improve my situation? 
  • When was the last time all team leaders analyzed day-to-day activities to identify and minimize Time Wasters?
  • Where do I have a person wearing multiple hats who has trouble prioritizing their workload? What do I need to change, improve, or do differently to change that outcome? 
  • How can we better manage interruptions for the CEO and top leadership team? 
  • Do we honestly work every day towards a specific outcome? If not, how would I impact that?
  • Is there a better way in the next 90 days to control the telephone and email companywide?
  • What else do I need to delegate? What else does my management team need to delegate?
  • Can we delegate everything that anyone else can do at a lower hourly rate than you earn? 
  • How can I free up every minute possible to do those things that only I can do as CEO?
  • What gets measured is what gets done. What gets measured is what gets managed. You can’t change it if you can’t measure it. What data point am I still unable to measure that would impact my sales revenue, my gross margin, or my net profit?
  • Where did I fail to “inspect what I expect” last quarter?
  • Do we have set consequences for underperformance or nonperformance? 

Additional Resources on this Topic:


  • How do you increase your cash flow in order to fuel your company’s growth?
  • How do you continually increase the value of your company?
  • How big would my business be if I still had every customer who had ever tried me? 
  • How can I make it easier for customers to do business with me by eliminating red tape, paperwork, faxed/emailed signatures, acceptance of ACH bank drafts, credit cards, etc.?
  • How can I eliminate waste in each of my company’s processes?
  • How can I eliminate mistakes during every step of the customer journey?
  • What errors do we make in operations and production today that are costing us money?
  • What was my largest expense outside of payroll this year? Is it different than last year?
  • When was the last time I negotiated all my customer contracts, pricing, and terms of payment?
  • How long has it been since I last negotiated all my sub-contractor and sub-vendor contracts, terms of agreement, payment terms, and costs of goods sold?
  • Where can I impact my profit by the Power of One Percent? (Price, Volume, COGs, Overhead)
  • Where can I impact my Cash Flow by the Power of One Day? (AP, AR, Inventory)
  • Is my inventory right-sized for the current market projections? 
  • What did I learn from my monthly P&L when looking at it year over year?
  • What did I learn from my Cash Flow over the last six months?

Additional Resources on this Topic:


  • What is your Moneyball stat?
  • What is your Profit per X that connects with your Big Hairy Audacious Goal?
  • What are your present barriers to scaling?
  • How do you control the constraints in your industry?
  • Do you have a written Leadership development plan with a budget and timeline for 2024?
  • Where will you need more scalable infrastructure in the 1-3 year future?
  • Do you have a repeatable Marketing process that brings in enough qualified Sales leads?
  • Is your Sales Process driving the right close ratio? Why or why not?
  • What is your system of innovation and idea generation?
  • Is this the right problem? Do I need to reframe the challenge to solve it?
  • When was the last time you were on the frontline, observing client feedback directly?
  • What do you need to utilize the 90-second prototype approach instead of MVP – Minimum Viable Product completion?
  • Where did you shoot bullets, not cannonballs, last year? Are you ready for the cannonball this year?
  • Are we failing fast or failing forward?
  • Do I need a big annual theme or one word for 2024 to keep me/us focused?
  • Where is the vicious cycle of my business?
  • What is the virtuous cycle or Flywheel of my business?
  • Do you feel like an owner or an investor in the company right now?
  • What is the soul of your business?
  • If a new owner bought your business, what would be their first two steps at your company to increase profit & cash flow? Why aren’t you doing that now?
  • If you were acquired by a Private Equity investment firm, and they took over tomorrow – what would they execute in the first 90 days to see immediate impact? Why aren’t you doing that now?
  • What was the last thing you took a risk on this year & how did it turn out?
  • Do you have the right team around you?
  • How are you using AI? How many hours a week are you dedicating to AI learning?

Additional Resources on this Topic:

I hope these 110 questions and additional resource articles assist you in planning your next annual retreat. It’s my life’s passion as a Scaling Up Business Coach to serve executive teams who want to scale their company. It’s my role to push them beyond the obvious, ask the tough questions, and hold them accountable to their own BIG dreams.

If your team needs a facilitator for your annual retreat, visit my website for more information on how to get started: Email me directly if you’d like to request a 30-minute personalized coaching session:

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About Stacy Eads

Edmond native & UCO Alumna, Stacy Eads, is an award-winning “Most Admired CEO” who scaled her company as a Woman in Tech before becoming an International Scaling Up Business Coach. She now empowers other CEOs from $2M to $200M to embrace their leadership potential through quarterly strategic planning. Her talent is in high demand to CEO Coach, Train Teams, and Speak at Events in both the U.S.A. and Canada.

Stacy Eads’ career affiliations include 50 Women Making a Difference award, Circle of Excellence award, Torch Ethics award, Most Admired CEO award, Edmond Chamber & UCO Mentor, Better Business Bureau of Central Oklahoma Board of Directors, TEDx OKC Speaker Coach, and Ambassador Chairwoman for the Greater OKC Chamber of Commerce.