The 3 Most Important Questions For Constant Growth As An Entrepreneur

Dan Sullivan
5 min readSep 24, 2020

The following is an excerpt from my book Deep D.O.S. Innovation.

You can focus your best thinking on making progress every day by asking yourself three questions: What are my biggest dangers? What are my biggest opportunities? What are my biggest strengths?

I call these your “D.O.S.” issues, and these questions reveal exactly how you can achieve your three most important areas of best progress for today, and then for each new day going forward — by eliminating your biggest danger, capturing your biggest opportunity, and maximizing your biggest strength.

You’ll never be stuck for answers, as your emotions of fear, excitement, and confidence will reveal your biggest dangers, opportunities, and strengths. And you can use the answers that emerge as your best practical building blocks for achieving breakthrough transformations.

As soon as you can do this for yourself today, you can skillfully help others to start doing the same thing tomorrow.

Instead of competing with other people who are selling the same product or service, you’ll make yourself extremely valuable to others by asking them these questions, which will help them get a handle on, and create, their futures.

Learn, don’t sell.

People who are selling similar products or services in the marketplace can essentially only outdo each other by lowering their prices. This is because in the customers’ and clients’ eyes, price is the only difference between the things they’re being offered.

A lot of entrepreneurs claim they enjoy competition, but I’ve discovered that they really don’t. Instead of being just another entrepreneur selling something, they want to be unique in the marketplace and have powerful, unique relationships with their customers and clients.

The D.O.S. questions get to the heart of what the other person really wants, and only they have the answers. When you ask someone a question, they can always tell when they’re being sold to — when the person asking the question already has an answer in mind — and when the person asking them a question is actually interested in learning about what they think and what they want.

Secret knowledge.

In my nearly 50 years of coaching entrepreneurs, I’ve noticed that they all have a common goal: to have such a great relationship with their clients that they can create solutions for them based on secret knowledge — information that only they are privy to. They want to be so clear about what their best clients are aiming for that they can use that knowledge to consistently innovate new solutions for them.

And if they can keep that up, it’s a permanent relationship where both sides keep getting bigger and better. The entrepreneur and the individual they’re providing solutions for keep getting more successful, and with each goal and each solution, both of them become more ambitious.

Understanding, then innovation.

If your customer or client is always growing, you can count on the fact that they have three kinds of powerful emotions every day: fear, excitement, and confidence.

What they’re afraid of is the danger of losing something and potentially moving backward instead of forward.

What they’re excited about are opportunities they would regret not capturing.

What they’re confident about are the strengths they’ve gained from previous experiences that they can maximize.

Fear is how you identify the dangers you want to eliminate, excitement is what you use to identify the opportunities you want to capture, and confidence is your guide for identifying the strengths you want to maximize.

These three emotions — fear, excitement, and confidence — are the raw material for greater progress.

Once you’ve figured out your own “D.O.S. issues,” you can apply this system to others. Your continually deeper understanding of these three emotions of your clients and customers gives you access to the secret knowledge you can then turn into completely unique, innovative solutions that other entrepreneurs just won’t be able to compete with.

The daily D.O.S.

The D.O.S. system is a way to make specific, measurable progress every day, and that progress always happens in three ways: you eliminate your biggest danger, you capture the opportunity that’s most important right now, and you maximize the strength that’s best suited for the job.

All three are necessary, and all three are connected to one another — you can use one to create the others. Think of them as building blocks. You can build your entrepreneurial day out of dangers, opportunities, and strengths, all of which you use your emotions to identify.

And only one danger, one opportunity, and one strength are enough for each day. You’ll have more, but each day, you’ll focus on transforming only the most important one in each category.

Sharing the system.

Only once you’ve mastered using D.O.S. for your own progress can you then gain that deeper understanding and knowledge about your clients and customers.

In the same way that you use your dangers, opportunities, and strengths to propel yourself forward, you can help your customers and clients identify their own D.O.S. issues, which will become the foundation for their progress.

In doing this, you establish a unique relationship with them that puts you entirely out of the range of competition.

For you and everyone else who learns to use D.O.S., all of this progress will be endless, because every day will present new building blocks to use, and you can innovate new solutions for the rest of your life.

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I hope this article triggered some new ideas, projects, initiatives, and thinking for you and your business.

Thanks for reading,


Interested in learning more about how to implement D.O.S. in your own life and with your customers? Download the full Deep D.O.S. Innovation ebook for free.

Make sure to check out more of my latest articles because little things keep becoming bigger and better when you think about them in new and different ways.

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Dan Sullivan

World’s foremost expert on entrepreneurship in action. Co-founder and President of The Strategic Coach Inc. Find out more: