7 Questions that All Entrepreneurs Should Ask Themselves

One of the greatest aspects of entrepreneurship is the people you meet and the relationships that develop over time. It seems to me that those connections occur more naturally and last longer in the entrepreneurial segments of business than anywhere else.

So after more than twenty years of working with and investing in startups, I have a long list of experts I admire—people whose advice has helped me personally—as well as the organizations I’ve led and the clients we’ve served—in large and small ways.

One of those individuals is Bill Botts. Bill is an angel investor, turn-around specialist, and former CEO several times over. He is also an expert in corporate governance, having served on the boards of more than 45 public and private companies.

Bill was one of the experts I turned to when I was asked to contribute a chapter on relationships to Craig Shimasaki’s latest book for entrepreneurs, Biotechnology Entrepreneurship: Starting, Managing, and Leading Biotech Companies. (Craig’s comprehensive how-to is a must-read for every biotech entrepreneur, by the way.)

And that brings me around to this 7 Question List.  Bill Botts is coming to Columbus this week to conduct a workshop for a group of TechColumbus engaged companies.  In preparation for the session, he sent us some questions to match his content to his upcoming Central Ohio audience.

His questions hit me like a Yogi Berra fly ball. They reflect the venture acceleration services and connections that are freely—yes freely—available to TechColumbus engaged clients.

  1. Are most attendees CEOs or founders of TechColumbus portfolio companies? Or entrepreneur wannabes?  Our venture acceleration services can help entrepreneurs create a business plan that matches milestones to capital requirements. This helps you reduce risk and become more attractive to investors.
  2. In general are they pre-revenue companies, post revenue companies or a mix? TechColumbus engaged clients are a mix. In our SpringBox Labs accelerator and extended office space, you’ll find entrepreneurs who are doing everything from  pre-prototype market and customer validation to companies like Syscom which are generating review and, in Syscom’s case, sending product all the way to Mars.
  3. Are most of the attendees with companies that are mentored or supported in an ongoing way by TechColumbus? Concept Academy is our newest initiative to help very early stage entrepreneurs. Our goal is to help 150 concept stage entrepreneurs in the next 12 months. Shouldn’t you be one of them?
  4. Are these companies mostly funded by TechColumbus or its angel associates?  TechColumbus is the region’s catalyst for concept and seed stage capital with has more than $40 million in capital under management. 72 of our 160 engaged startups raised $64 million in capital last year from TechColumbus managed funds, individual angels and angels in groups, strategic investors, and from banks and other loan programs.
  5. Does TechColumbus provide services to these companies such as HR, accounting, legal, patents, etc.? Service professionals participate in our very successful Expert Network initiative which, since inception in 2013, has committed more than 2500 hours and $2 million in reduced rate and pro bono services.
  6. Do you provide facility space and services for some or all of these companies? We’ve just completed a terrific renovation of our SpringBox Labs facilities. Best of all, our venture advisors are co-located in the SpringBox Labs accelerators providing daily and immediate access to the entrepreneurs and startup companies we serve.
  7. Are most of these companies at or nearing “stand alone” status or are most being assisted by TechColumbus? In the last year, we’ve had more than a dozen companies graduate from SpringBox Labs. SpringBox Labs companies achieved $32.2 million in revenue. They raised 2.7X the amount of capital of TechColumbus companies not resident in SpringBox. If that isn’t standing alone, it’s certainly standing tall.

So, there you have it. Bill Botts is asking all the right questions. As a Central Ohio entrepreneur, are you make use of all these resources to develop the right answers for your startup?