10 better questions for aspiring entrepreneurs

I have always been fascinated by good questions. Three of my mentors most of the time just do that – ask great questions and make me THINK. I think I am smart enough to find good answers (or get help) but I miss asking great questions to myself.

For the many things that I thank GOD everyday – one of them is the opportunity to meet with a lot of aspiring entrepreneurs. It is fascinating to watch those ideas at their budding stage and then bloom into full life. Coming back to the point, I collected ten questions from the field and suggested a better versions of the same for your consideration.

1. Typical question:  What is the business idea we should execute on?
    Better question:   Who should I build the business with?

My $0.02: Your idea is important but more important is your team. Teams have to transcend ideas and hence the right team is the #1 requirement.

2. Typical question: How can I find a great VC to fund this?
   Better question: How can a great VC find me to build “a” company?

My $.02: Like many things in life, you will get money when you least need it. When is a good time to get a line of credit? When everything is going well. When is a good time to raise money? Way before you need it. A few entrepreneurs (very few) have standing commitments from investors about investments in their new ventures. Aiming to become one such entrepreneur is more fun than hunting for capital going door-to-door.

3. Typical question: When should we be profitable?
   Better question: When should we be cashflow positive?

My $.02: We have known of companies that are profitable but crash and burn. The key reason is that the leaders took their eye off the cashflow required. Without cash, the company has no oxygen to survive.

4. Typical question: How can we build cool stuff into this product?
   Better question: How can we build useful stuff into this product?

My $.02: You should not build cool stuff just because it’s cool.

5. Typical question: What can we do to eliminate competition?
   Better question: How can we execute better than our competition?

My $.02: Ideas are just that – ideas. Once an idea is out in open, all it matters is execution. If you can execute better than your competition, you win!

6. Typical question: When should I start building good relatinoships that will help this project?
   Betterquestion: When should I start building good relationships?

My $.02: You can’t build good relationships because you can “use” them. You have to build good relationships. Period. In fact, a better way to build good relationships is to see how you can help them with their goals.

7. Typical question: How much ownership should I retain so that I am in full control?
   Better question: How much should I share so that everyone in the team feels that they are an owner too?

My $.02: You can have a small piece of something big or a big piece of nothing. The choice is yours.

8. Typical question: How can I package this company to sell it?
   Better question: How can I build an asset that is so attractive that buyers will come looking for it?

My $.02: Many times – someone wanting to “buy” you will fetch you a higher value than when you want to “sell” to someone.

9. Typical question: How can we convince our customers to pay higher price for our products?
   Better question: How can we demonstrate to our customers that our products provide higher value?

My $.02: Simply put, customers will pay a higher price for your product if they find a higher value in it. No scheming required.

10. Typical question: How can I learn to eliminate the risk in this business?
    Better question: How can I learn to be comfortable with the unknown?

My $.02: Entrepreneurism and risk go hand-in-hand. Rather than wishing away that “risk” will go away, try to see how you can learn to handle risk and be comfortable with it.

For my lens on “Questions” please visit
Squidoo Lens: The Power of Questions