When I interview entrepreneurs, it’s not uncommon to hear people say: “This is my first media interview. I don’t know what to say." I think some might feel a little better by preparing for an interview beforehand. So with that in mind, here is a list of the questions that I usually ask entrepreneurs.
- What made you start your business?
- What is your product?
- How does your product different from others?
- How did you come up with this idea?
- How do you think your product can change the world?
- What is your short-term goal?
These are the minimum questions I ask entrepreneurs who have just started a business. Let me explain why:
What made you start your business?
What I’d like to know here is the personality of the entrepreneur. Sometimes I can hear some stories of how they started their business, or they might tell anecdotes about how they came up with the idea. Those stories can help me better understanding the person. This is one of the most important questions.
What is your product?
In some cases, the product comes first when it comes to telling a company’s story. Perhaps they founded the company to market the product, and that product is heavily intertwined with the business.
I make sure to collect some information about the product before an interview, and I try to elicit more stories from the entrepreneur. This is so I can understand the personality of the entrepreneur by seeing how passionately the person speaks.
As one of our writers mentioned in a past article, sometimes the personality of an entrepreneur has a big influence on the product.
How is your product different from others?
Based on my experiences interviewing entrepreneurs, there are rarely “brand new” products. When I hear about a product from an entrepreneur, a similar product comes to my mind in most cases.
I have to identify the originality of the product somehow, and that’s what I’m trying to figure out with this question. The answer will help me understand how well the entrepreneur knows the strengths and the originality of the product and how much he/she has researched the competition. And of course, I can understand the product better by asking this question.
How do you think your product will change the world?
This question is a minor question, one that not all reporters will ask. I ask it sometimes. Some entrepreneurs might give you an answer similar to why they started the business. But some go further, explaining what kind of impact on the world and the society their business can have. You can elicit more ambitious thoughts by asking this question.
I get excited when I hear big ambition from entrepreneurs, like Hironao Kunimitsu, the cofounder of Gumi. Entrepreneurs who have big goals and vision and are always attractive to me.
What is your short-term goal?
This is a more detailed question. I ask about a short-term goal they have set and what detailed action they plan is in place to help achieve it. By asking about both long-term and short-term goals, I can see the road map they have in mind.
They cannot disclose everything open to public. But understanding short-term goals and action plans will help me understand how much growth I can expect.