1. What makes a good business idea great?
There are lots of good ideas but most great business are built on better execution of an existing idea. I am not a big believer in "create a better idea and the world beats a path to your door."
2. What do you think are the traits of a great entrepreneur?
Many – but most important is the ability to be relentless as the sand shifts around you. I always say "quick is good – relentless is better."
3. How do I know if there's a real need for my product or service?
Ask the only people who matter – paying customers – emphasis on the word paying. RIM (the makers of Blackberry ) never develop a new product until they have a client who will pay for it.
4. What are the most important first steps a new entrepreneur should take?
Find a customer!
5. How do you create a business plan that works?
People spend way too much on a business plan. When you start – it is important to have vision but a business plan is theory and when you are starting there is very little room for theory. At the beginning, any plan beyond the next quarter is a dream; after you get bigger the next quarter becomes the next 2 and so on. As you grow, size gives you some predictability.
6. Where can I get help creating a business plan?
Spend less time on your plan and find more time talking to people who will actually buy your product. I never had a business plan for my first four businesses.
7. How do you compete against the big guys?
The smaller you are the more laser-like your focus needs to be. A single man cannot defeat an army unless he finds their weakness and attacks them at that point one on one.
8. How do you build a great team?
Lots of ways – but the first thing is be a great leader. People naturally want to be lead and not managed. Look in the mirror – are you the one who can lead?
9. What makes an investor put their money into a deal?
A great probability of a healthy return on the capital – and the likelihood of capital being returned (element of risk ).
10. How do I find investors and business partners and what's most important in my presentation?
First step make sure you need investment – or do you simply need a loan. Most people that want an investment simply need a loan – keep in mind if a bank will not give you a loan – you are going to have a hard time with investors also. They are out there – this is the greatest time in history of concentration of investment capital in cash. Build a great business – everything else flows from that.