I have often been asked by budding entrepreneurs whether I think they will be successful. My immediate reaction is to ask them if they think they will because self-belief is far more important than my opinion.
However, sometimes that self-belief stems from arrogance and need to do something rather than from a well thought out idea and implementation plan. I see my job as not putting a damper on the idea, but questioning in a way that leads the potential entrepreneur to their own conclusions.
The first of those questions always seems to be WHY? This question gets the person to consider the reasons for doing it as well as considering the need that they are trying to fill. This can obviously lead to other questions about need, but in essence you are trying to get them to consider whether there is a real market requirement.
The second question is HOW? Here I am trying to get the person to explain how they intend to deliver their new idea. With further questioning I am trying to get them to think about how it will be made; how it will be delivered; how it will be financed; how people will find out about it; in essence, can the person really make this turn from an idea in their head to a business.
Now comes the question of WHERE? All to often I come across people that may have a good idea but have not thought about target markets, locations or where people would go to avail them of the service.
Finally, I come to the question of WHEN? Some would argue that this should be the first question in order to see if there is a real intention or a pipe dream. However, my experience has shown me that often the answer at the beginning is unrealistic and theoretical. Only after considering the other questions do you get a realistic answer based on good thought processes.
The WHEN may still create an answer that indicates that nothing is really likely to happen, but that is down to the entrepreneur. I have long since learnt that my clairvoyant capabilities to forecast success or failure are much less successful than flipping a coin.
All I can do is try to get the person to consider more deeply without being judgmental. I want to make them think without putting off the true entrepreneur. And if, because of that questioning and thought process a person that shouldn’t start doesn’t, then that is a positive result as well. Hopefully next time they have an idea they will ask themselves HOW, WHY, WHERE, WHEN, without my help!