By Andy Green (SERIOUS Creative Director)
I had the pleasure at a Crowdfunding Conference in London of hearing three great presentations by Bill Morrow, Thomas Power, and Oliver Rothshild – three great exponents of the power and potential of crowdfunding as an alternative source of raising capital for modern-day business ventures In sharing their experiences and wisdom they all revealed how they both use a vital tool to get to the heart of any potential business investment, to provide penetrating insight and quickly establish if they say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. Their secret weapon is critical questions, a form of what I call ‘Beautiful Questions’. Bill Morrow identified 5 Critical Questions to get to the root value of any potential investment opportunity. Bill’s 5 Critical Questions are:
- Tell me about your business? (If you can’t readily answer you probably can’t readily deliver a future profit.)
- What is your unfair advantage you have in the marketplace?
- Do you think you can do it all yourself? (A trick question in some ways to identify the Polyanna’s the would-be entrepreneurs, with an over-inflated sense of self-confidence and unrealistic assessments of their strengths and capabilities: no one can do it alone.)
- How much do you need? Interestingly, from Bill’s experience there is a gender divide on this question: women, he finds, will give a precise figure on the amount they need; men go for a ballpark – and usually over inflated – figure.)
- How does the money you want relate to the return on investment?
Thomas Power, founder of on-line training provider Ecademy added a very direct question to the mix: ‘Who are you going to hurt?’ The question was inspired, he claims, by his dealing with hard-hitting American investors, gets to the rub of where your future income and investment returns will come from. Money is not generated out of thin air. It reminds me of one of my favourite Kurt Vonnegut adages, when a character is advising his offspring: “Son. In the future there are going to be two people giving each other money. And you need to be in the middle of them.” So, using Thomas Power’s question, can illuminate how realistic and thought-through a business proposal actually is, and who will suffer as a result of your competitive presence. Last, but not least, Oliver Rothschild asks a very simple, but revealing question when assessing the viability of a business proposal: “Will your grandmother understand it?” If granny doesn’t know, then your scheme is not going to go! The joy of having these critical, or beautiful questions at your disposal is how they offer you a valuable tool to give you insight and illumination into possibly uncertain, dark or even illusory new business opportunities. Questions are a friend for effective creative and strategic thinking. Beautiful Questions are your best friend. So, thank you Bill Morrow, Thomas Power and Oliver Rothschild for introducing me to some new friends.