This post first appeared here as an article on Proseed Magazine, and I send it to people who approach me asking for feedback, mentoring and/or an investment. I have updated it a bit since then, so read on here.
I am usually willing to give an hour or two of mentoring/feedback to people with business ideas provided I am not involved in anything competitive. To make the most of the experience it is good for those who want to go ahead to be properly prepared and to have done the “easy stuff” before we meet. It is surprising how often people want to chat before they have done what I regard as “the basics”. If everything I suggest in this article has already been done, it is very positive. Because the starting positions people approaching me are in vary so much please be aware of the fact that some of what I suggest below may not fit your situation. If this is the case, just skip or move on to questions that are relevant to you. Here goes:
Clients and potential clients People often ask me what I think about their idea and I always tell them that it doesn’t matter what I think nearly as much as what clients and potential clients think, and ask them what they have done to get this information. If I am told “we have interviewed 10 directors of companies who we want to sell to and they all say that they are very interested in purchasing at the kind of prices we want to charge” it not only is impressive it also tells me that the person I am talking to is well organised and has the self confidence to get out there and talk to people.
If your business is already underway please describe how you got to where you are now, and what are the key processes (how you get clients, deliver your product or service and make money), and what you expect from me. Please send me key facts, your trading history: costs, revenues and profits, number of employees, and ownership.
If you are not underway, please also make clear how I can help you, and describe your planned business model/how you are going to make make money. I always worry if I see the EU funding logos that this means the business may not have a business model and be losing money. if the business model is going to change in the future please describe it.
Competition – who are you competing against in Poland (and who is dangerous and how are or can you be better than them). If you haven’t searched in English and checked who is doing this in foreign countries, do it now.
Strategic options. what do you see you way forward in terms not just of geographical spread but also product service offerings.
End game. are you going to exit? if so how, when, who are your potential buyers ?
Ownership/shareholders: key team members etc. who apart from you is part of your set up?
Gaps what do you lack/what are your weaknesses/challenges? What else do you need that you don’t have today, and what are you doing to address them?
Why? What problems are you solving, what pain point are you addressing. Client satisfaction, what is it that makes a) your users b) people who send you money really appreciate what you do.
Barriers to entry if you start turning into a high profit business. what is to stop others entering the market?
dangers and threats. how could it “all go wrong”?
My role. How can I help you ?what is the main reason you approached me?