Questions That Work: How to Ask Questions That Will Help You Succeed in Any Business Situation

By Andrew Finlayson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 16CHAPTER 16
QUESTIONS THAT WORK WHEN:
Starting Your
Own Business

In all affairs it's a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark
on the things you have long taken for granted.

BERTRAND RUSSELL

How well do you know your business? Entrepreneurs have said it was good that they didn't know too much at the beginning, or their hopes would have been dashed before they started. George Zimmer of The Men's Wearhouse said, “You have to really be able to believe in your own idea and your own vision regardless of how many qualified people tell you you're walking a thin line between total failure and success.”1 Still, it is foolish to gamble on a venture without examining the risks and scrutinizing how competitive the market will be. Questions are the essential risk analysis tool. Risk analysis is paramount because failure when running your own business threatens not only your personal finances but your future professional prospects.

Your first questions should focus on whether the business idea offers enough uniqueness to get people to buy or to switch from an existing service. The head dreamer of new products at the design facility IDEO, David Kelley, was asked what someone with a new business idea needed to do. He warned that most people fall in love with their idea without knowing whether it will actually sell. It is a question of putting your money where your mouth is, he said. He suggested, “Build a few of them if it's low cost enough and then take them out and convince the local mom and pop grocery store to try and to sell them.” Kelley said you need to ask for reactions to your idea but it's “no fair using your best friend … if someone you don't know buys it then you know you have a good idea.”2 The market is the ultimate q-and-a test. You have to invite hard, critical questions of your plan

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