Whenever I’m with someone that wants to start a new business venture there are a few questions I like to ask that help me assess if the person has what it takes to make it succeed:
1. How are you involved with the industry you are working on?
If you’re going to open a business your chances of succeeding will increase if you know the industry already. For example my first startup project was on the real estate industry which I didn’t know at all and didn’t have any contacts. I now have a WordPress business which I both love and know the community and that helps immensely.
2. What are you passionate about in the business?
If you don’t love what you’re going to do there is very little chance of succeeding so I always ask this. Passion is what keeps you moving in those tuff times and what makes you run the extra mile to do something great.
3. What is the value for the user? Is it something that is going to help a better world?
Is there a clear value proposition? If not I rather not take a project because I don’t believe in it myself. Also it better be something that will improve the world, there are too many fart iPhone apps already.
4. Is it a problem that you experienced yourself?
If you never experienced the problem yourself you’ll have to do a lot of head banging until you understand the pain you’re solving. Instead of trying to solve a problem we don’t know about I find that working on problems I know highly increase the chances of succeeding.
How about you? How do you differentiate between a great idea/team and one that will likely never achieve its goals? Of course there is no magic formula but in my experience people that know how to answer these questions have much higher chances.