2 Key Questions to Ask a Management Team

I went to a conference recently put on by a friend and colleague of mine, Pip Coburn.  He organized about 150 entrepreneurs, investors, analysts and the like to attend and we discussed Monumental Change.  Some of the topics I attended and participated in were around Facebook vs. Google, Operating Systems, Future of Television, Education,  and Decision Making without Enough Data.

During our recap at the end of the day, one of the questions we had to answer was, “If you are going to meet with the management of a company to assess them, what 2 questions would you ask?”   We all had to think and participate with our answers.

While I contributed two, I didn’t feel that mine were best.  Here are the two that I favorited along with most other people which were given to us by a well known CEO of 2 publicly traded companies.

  1. What is holding you back?
  2. What is your business model and how did it and will it change over time?

What is holding you back?

I like this question a lot.  Everyone has wants and needs.  I’m sure that if someone asked you what was holding you back, you can rattle off a list of things.  You can tell a  lot from someone’s list.  The goal here is to weed out what is systematic or foundational vs. temporal tactics which are born out of politics or laziness.  If you can isolate the latter, then you can work with the management team to get thru the easier than say a foundational issue which is much harder to change.

What is your business model?

Seems like a trivial question but to many, its not.  Within the media agency landscape, our model is to sell our time to clients and we make a commission on the respective media we purchase.  Will this have to change in the future?  Maybe… But think about larger corporations (or even mid size), their models aren’t that easy to figure out.  Apple has how many revenue sources?  Google?  Facebook?  Instagram?

While this was a public company CEO who shared this information with us as this is what many investors ask him, I look to leverage these questions with startups we are looking at investing in thru kbsp Ventures.

(btw, this was my 1,000th post.  Woo hoo)