There seems to be one fundamental question that every startup needs to answer. And to a degree if you can answer this well, you’ve got a very good chance of being heard over the rest of the noise and maybe being the startup that is remembered.

I’m Chuck Goldstone. I live in the world of story. I’ve had a communication background since essentially the dawn of time. I got very interested in the startup world and had an opportunity to meet a number of really impressive people who had some really great ideas.

What Do You Do?

There is one question that is probably the most common question that people get asked, and that is simply, “What do you do?” I meet people all the time. I’ve met hundreds of startup CEOs over the last year or so, and people give an answer that is typically what they think an answer should sound like. We need to be able to effectively answer that question so that it prompts the answer, “That’s interesting. Now tell me more,” rather than “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” which they say silently and then they look over and say, “Oh, there’s a table with pizza.”

Why Should I Care?

Really listen to what the question is. The question is not, “How do you do it, and what color wire do you have, and can you tell me a lot of jargon about the space that you’re in?” It is answering a bunch of very fundamental questions, which are, “Why do you deserve to be in the cosmos?” “What’s the reason your company exists?” “What’s the problem you’re solving?” “What is an opportunity that’s out there that no one’s tapped before that you can tap because no one has, or maybe some an opportunity that someone has tapped before but you can do it maybe a little bit better?” And then the follow up question is, “Why should I care?”

What Can We Do Together?

So you need to make it not about you and what you do. But you need to make that problem or opportunity resonate with a person who is potentially going to be your stakeholder, the person you want to listen. Now that you have their interest, now that you have related it to why it is important to them, the ultimate question is, “What can we do now together?” Because when you think about it, your role in communicating who you are is generally not just to provide information. It is normally to springboard some kind of action, whether that person is a funder, potentially someone in your market, or anyone who can do you any good on your quest to make your company successful.