6 Questions Entrepreneurs Must Ask Themselves
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Early stage companies often short-cut the process and stunt their growth. These are the 6 questions founders should know the answers to by heart.
Hindsight. The old yet famous phrase: I wish I knew then, what I know now. It’s impossible to rely on experience you don’t have. But it is possible (and actually advisable) to rely on the experience of seasoned experts. My name is Doug Lambert and I’m the Managing Director of Venture Studio and Advisory, 2nd Glantz, LLC. I bring my twenty-five years of entrepreneurial experience to bear when advising early stage founders. As a strategic partner with Glantz Design, 2nd Glantz is dedicated to working with early stage companies to help them grow. My hope is the following six questions will provoke thought and ultimately help you or someone you know who is starting the entrepreneurial journey.
Six questions early stage entrepreneurs should ask themselves ASAP!
1: Why am I doing this? Why are we here? Why? Why? Why?
It starts with why. At 2nd Glantz we strive to help an entrepreneur answer their why and in the process, exceed the vision of their future self. When we do this, we answer our why. The simple question of why am I doing this can often be used when pushing through the trials and tribulations of the entrepreneurial journey. The answer should empower you to keep pushing forward or it may do the opposite and provide you a timely pause, reset and or moment to rethink your next move. Some say you can’t ask the question why enough. Asking why several times simply reaffirms an answer. The theory of the five whys by Japanese inventor, Sakichi Toyoda, provoked Jason Zook to simplify things to 3 Whys and ultimately get to the root cause of an issue. That said, if the why is based on the obsession for fundamental and foundational truths, it will actually help you overcome your trials and challenges as you validate, build and scale your business. Ultimately, if you don’t own it, you can’t sell it. Own your why and start your entrepreneurial journey.
2: What phase of the entrepreneurial journey am I in?
It’s important to humbly understand the phases of what it takes to build a company and believe it or not, many new companies don’t know where they are in the process and if they have skipped some steps. This journey is broken up into phases: the ideation, validation, build, scale and potentially exit phase of your entrepreneurial journey.
The ideation phase is when you come up with the idea.
- The validation phase is when you validate the product, customer, cash, and repeatability of the idea. Most entrepreneurs knowingly or unknowingly skip this process or believe they validated their hypothesis or idea when in actuality, they didn’t. There is no way around it. If you don’t validate, you inherently create more risk for all stakeholders.
- The build phase is after you have validated the product, customer, cash, repeat model of your business and when others believe in the validated idea and want to build upon the idea. Ultimately you want to build a company based on a validated idea.
- The scale phase is about repeatability (product/customer/cash/repeat) and scaling your business with working capital.
The exit phase is when the company is either acquired or it goes public. Companies that have built measurable value are positioned for liquidity events or better known as a successful exit. What phase are you honestly in as an entrepreneur?
3: Who is my customer?
This and the following questions are designed to be direct, simple and the answers are typically complex in the beginning. This is one of those questions you always want to never take for granted and ask yourself, who is my customer? Every one of our portfolio companies at 2nd Glantz builds this and other questions into their vernacular and over time they make better decisions. They are dedicated to validating who the customer is with real, qualitative and quantitative data.
4: What am I selling?
The customer will tell you if you’re actively listening. Taking the time to truly understand the value proposition of what you are selling to your identified customers is an infinite process and something that demands our time and attention. Thought leaders such as David Fisher, Tony Lenhart and Brooke Saucier are just a few whom I’d encourage you to connect with as they have demonstrated a genuine interest in helping to navigate sales for early stage entrepreneurs. Ask yourself what you are selling and validate with your customers.
5: What is my customer buying?
Probably one of the most famous quotes in marketing comes from Harvard Business School Professor Theodore Levitt, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!” What you are selling and what the customer is buying is typically not always the same thing. It’s our job as entrepreneurs to always ask this question and validate with real data, real feedback, early and often.
6: How do I know?
How do I know who my customer is, what I’m selling, what my customers are buying and why? How do I know? Validating these questions with qualitative and quantitative data, early and often is at the heart of every entrepreneur’s ethos. If you always ask this question to the above, you validate the essence of your business. Our customers are . How do you know? You get the point. Apply this to your business today and you will make better decisions early and often.
If you read this then hopefully you know why you read this. Ha! The six questions are designed to provoke thought, raise questions early and often to save you time, money and bring some clarity around making your vision a reality. I’d welcome the opportunity to learn more and understand your start-up vision. At 2nd Glantz, our portfolio companies benefit from having 24/7 access to advisory guidance through the entire entrepreneurial journey. From raising capital, strategic planning and growing your business, our mission is simple: Add value. Always. If you’d like seasoned expertise to guide you through answering these questions and growing your business, let’s connect.