12 Vital Questions for Any New Business

Global Entrepreneurship Week

It is Global Entrepreneurship Week on 18 November through 23 November.  There are events all over the world.  The overall organisation website is: www.unleashingideas.org. You can find out more following twitter hashtags #GEW, #GEWSpain, #IESEGEW.  There will be plenty of events in your city led by Entrepreneurs’ Organisation, The Kauffman Foundation and many more local entrepreneurship groups.  Get involved!

Here is a post inspired by the Global Entrepreneurship Week.  What questions must you ask of yourself and your idea before moving into execution?

The 12 Vital Questions for Any New Business

Are you an entrepreneur?  Are you a corporate leader?  Do you have an idea and have thought about turning it into a business?  Here is a list of 12 questions that you must answer (and why):

  1. Why do we exist? (purpose)
  2. What is our aspiration (vision)
  3. Exactly what problem will this solve? (value proposition)
  4. For whom do we solve that problem? (target segment)
  5. How big is the opportunity? (market size)
  6. What alternatives are out there? (competitive landscape)
  7. Why are we best suited to pursue this? (our differentiator)
  8. Why now? (market window)
  9. How will we get this solution to market? (go-to-market strategy)
  10. How will we measure success? (KPIs)
  11. What factors are critical to success? (CSFs)
  12. Can we succeed – is this viable and sustainable? (go or no-go)

This comes from Ramanathan’s answer to What should you do as an Entrepreneur if you have no background in business over at Quora.

Pitching Your Idea

As a bonus, once you’ve got those 12 answers cracked… you now need to be able to share the answers in a way that others can get excited, get involved and make it happen with you.  You need to pitch.

What is the best pitch:

“The best pitch decks don’t feel like they were created for the benefit of venture capitalists. They feel like an outgrowth of the work the startup is already doing.” Michael Wolfe

Pablo Villalba pitching Teambox

The best pitch decks portray:

  • This is what we are doing.
  • This is how we are going to do it.
  • We can do it better if we get some money in.
  • This thing is going to happen with or without you.
  • Are you in or are you out?

That comes from Michael Wolfe’s answer to What should be in a Pitch Deck also at Quora.

Further Reading

Yahoo pays Millions to Teen Coder (the real story)

Nick D’Aloisio

The story in the tech news of the last few days is the purchase of Summly by Yahoo for the sum of $30M, making the 17-year old founder Nick D’Aloisio an instant millionaire.

It sounds fairly simple.

The story they want you to believe:

Teen whizz writes cool app.  App downloaded by millions.  Yahoo gets interested.  Teen whizz meets after school to agree $30M deal.  Teen now rich.

The reality might be a little more useful.

The reality: Mentors and Advisors made this deal.

Horizon Ventures, the Hong-Kong based Venture Capital fund that is part of Li Ka-shing‘s empire spotted Nick D’Aloisio a few years ago.

He was a great coder, and presents himself well; he had a decent app.

Billionaire Li Ka-shing’s company Horizon put together a group of mentor/advisors for Nick – including Jonathan Ive, chief designer at Apple; other well-known tech and media names including actors Ashton Kutcher, Stephen Fry, Spotify’s Shakil Khan, Zynga’s Mark Pincus and Lady Gaga’s manager Troy Carter.

Together they shaped an unknown London geek into a cool dude and a $30M deal with Yahoo.

It was not the awesomeness of the app, it was the credibility of the mentors and advisors that made this deal.


5 Steps to Turnaround Bankrupt Companies

Alfred J. Moran gives 5 steps to turnaround bankrupt or deeply troubled companies.  He has turned around companies for 25 years.  Here are his 5 steps:

  1. Grab the Cash.
  2. Freeze the Expenses.
  3. Interview Everyone (all the information about what is wrong and what should be done is already there).
  4. Set a strategy (a half-right strategy now is better than a perfect strategy in 6 months)
  5. Draw up the “Ideal” Organisation chart.  Important: Start fresh, do not start with the people already in the company.  After you have the “ideal” chart, you can slot in the existing people if they still fit in somewhere.  DO NOT TAKE THE EXISTING ORGANISATION CHART AS THE START POINT.
“Most managers take the existing staff and try to find a job for them.  This is a disaster.  Lay out the organisation first.  If people don’t fit, get rid of them.  Sounds cold, but executives are paid to execute.” Alfred J. Moran, CEO Gérant Companies Inc.

Pitching: Get the first 10 words right

What are the first ten words of your next pitch, speech or presentation?

Participants of Wayra Week Barcelona 2012

I was at Wayra Week Barcelona this week working with 30 selected startup businesses to prepare their companies for growth and investment.  All were looking to raise a round of venture capital financing for their businesses.

I spent a lot of time going from group to group asking “what are the first 10 words of your pitch for tomorrow?”

I received a range of replies:

  • “Huh.  Oh.  Ah.  Yeah.  My name is… and our business is …”
  • “We are a platform for connecting users to providers…”
  • “We have a solution for the publishing industry…”
  • “Hello.  Thanks.  I am very happy for this opportunity…”
  • “Uhh.  Why?  Only ten words…”

These answers are lessons in putting audiences to sleep.

Lets get it clear.  Investors hear hundreds of pitches.   They know they are probably not going to invest in your business and want to confirm this assumption as quickly as possible.  They have years of experience in knowing when to switch off listening to the pitch and check their email on the blackberry, or plan their ski weekend.  Why let them tune out before you have finished your first 10 words?

What should the first 10 words achieve?

  1. We are not here to waste your time
  2. We are professionals (we prepare well and practice lots)
  3. We are a serious business
  4. We know what you are interested in
  5. We know what criteria you will use to take this decision

The first 10 words are vitally important.  The first 10 words gets you attention for 30 seconds.  You then have 30 seconds to earn attention for the next 5 minutes.  If your first 10 words loses the audience, you will not get them back.

What are your first 10 words of your next pitch, speech or presentation?  

I think there are only 3 ways to start a pitch.  Interested?

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