Weekend Words: Answer the Question

Don’t beat around the bush

I talk to a lot of founders, some of those conversations are great, others good, some bad. A difference between a great one and good one has to do with the ability of the founding team to clearly answer the question at a hand.

I have a very simple framework for my intro conversation: get to know the team, understand the market, and gauge traction. I unbundle each of these three major points with a variety of questions. The idea is, the founder teaches me and I can absorb who they are and their business at a high level.

I caught myself getting frustrated this week with a founding pair. I was simply not getting my questions answered despite me trying several different ways to ascertain an answer. The answer was either a tangential point or simply had no relation to my question. This isn’t the first time — it generally points to a lack of preparation.

The worst thing to do is beat around the push and talk about y when an investor is asking about x. Such waffling could also suggest a lack of understanding for the subject matter, a weak business, and potentially erode the trust factor investors (like founders) look for.

Founders, take time to prep for these meetings, answer the question directly, and if unsure, say so and follow up by email. These conversations aren’t political — simple and honest answers will win the day.