(Prof Molly Jahn and Sector 67's Chris Meyer pitching Agricultural Innovation Prize, 2014)

Entrepreneurship clinic

This project is a resource letter to enable students to take advantage of campus, local, and national opportunities for entrepreneurship.

"Entendre" means to undertake. An entrepreneurial spirit seeks opportunity in all things. It is an attitude that can serve you well. Would you like to start your future now, or just maybe think about it later and coast? Make something now or wait until say graduate school or some postgraduate employment. You have the tools and resources you need to explore the notion of developing your OWN ideas and even starting and running your own company while at UW-Madison. Physicists and hardware makers have a special role to play. Let's get started.

Why think about entrepreneurship

“Entrepreneurship will create a better world. It’s not just about new company, capital, and job formation, nor innovation, nor creativity, nor breakthroughs. It is also about fostering an ingenious human spirit and improving humankind.” - Jeffry A. Timmons (1941-2008) Founded Price-Babson SEE in 1984

"Turns out for many, identifying as an entrepreneur is less important than identifying with the entrepreneurship path. It’s critical that people see the creation of their own opportunities as a viable and attainable possibility for themselves." The Babson Entrepreneur Experience Lab aims to address these issues by focusing on the realities of entrepreneurship today through the lens of entrepreneurs themselves. Download Elements of the New Venture Entrepreneur Experience, Elements of the Entrepreneur Inside Experience, Masterclass,


American Physical Society initiative http://www.aps.org.ezproxy.library.wisc.edu/programs/education/conferences/innovation.cfm

Get excited

Things your adviser never told you: Entrepreneurship’s role in physics education http://www.physicstoday.org/resource/1/phtoad/v66/i8/p42_s1

The alternative career is no longer alternative. It’s time to rethink STEM graduate education and align it with the real job market. http://scitation.aip.org.ezproxy.library.wisc.edu/content/aip/magazine/physicstoday/news/10.1063/PT.5.2016?utm_medium=email&utm_source=American+Institute+of+Physics&utm_campaign=4546924_Physics+Today%3a+The+week+in+Physics+4-8+August+&dm_i=1Y69,2PGFG,E1N5G9,9VJRC,1

Being a tech geek is cool, I should know, I am one. http://www.theguardian.com/women-in-leadership/2013/oct/15/being-a-geek-is-cool-i-am-one

Millennials to the Rescue! Young entrepreneurs could save Madison's economy http://www.thedailypage.com/isthmus/article.php?article=40722

The Millennial Generation Research Review http://emerging.uschamber.com/MillennialsReport

Entrepreneurship and the U.S. Economy http://www.bls.gov/bdm/entrepreneurship/entrepreneurship.htm

Global Entrepreneurship Monitor http://www.gemconsortium.org/

The Future of the University and Public Research for the Entrepreneurial Age,by Carl J. Schramm President and Chief Executive Officer, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, http://www.kauffman.org/Details.aspx?id=5758

Ideafests 2013 – Entrepreneurship and Innovation Competitions at UW-Madison https://www.facebook.com/pages/G-Steven-Burrill-Business-Plan-Competition/144000448900?ref=hl

Students sought to organize national Agricultural Innovation prize competition http://theweekly.wisc.edu/newsletter/achievements-the-weekly/new-post-for-badgers-in-the-world-the-weekly-15/?utm_source=September+2013+newsletter&utm_campaign=Newsletters&utm_medium=email

Elon Musk (PayPal, SpaceX, Tesla Motors) physics major, http://www.aps.org/publications/apsnews/201310/profiles.cfm, http://www.aps.org/careers/physicists/profiles/musk.cfm

Speakers at Y Combinator's Startup Schools (links to various entrepreneurs) http://startupschool.org/allspeakers.html

Latest news on Wisconsin entrepreneurship http://www.xconomy.com/wisconsin/ http://www.xconomy.com/wisconsin/#!

Millennials Have Their Own Definition of Entrepreneurship http://www.businessinsider.com/gen-ys-impact-on-the-future-of-work-2013-5

Microentrepreneurs May Be an Untapped Market for Product Design http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130812121459.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Latest+Science+News%29

Garage Inventors http://www.studio360.org/2012/jan/27/garage-inventors/

Millennial Trains Project http://millennialtrain.co/

Checkmate, a UW student startup http://nciia.org/open/open-minds-teams-checkmate/

2014 NCIAA open minds teams http://nciia.org/open/meet-2014-open-minds-teams/

Make a mission statement

Don't worry; this is really easy. First be inspired by Dilbert http://search.dilbert.com/comic/Mission%20Statement and then use this handy tool: http://www.lotta.se/mission-statement-generator/?dummy_value=223852226

Ha, ha. Just kidding. According to some, vision/goal is an important prerequisite, lasting forever, offering mountains/missions along an endless road, surmounted by strategies and tactics. Others ditch the mission idea and just go for 'mantra' like "Absolutely, positively the next day" (Fedex) and for an exit strategy.

Face reality and plan to stay informed too

Innovation: Bridging the market gap http://www.nature.com.ezproxy.library.wisc.edu/news/innovation-bridging-the-market-gap-1.13778?WT.ec_id=NATURE-20130926#/b4

Proof of concept (actual proof) http://www.kauffman.org/advancing-innovation/proof-of-concept-centers.aspx

How to teach entrepreneurship - Community, Broad Appeal, Networking, Real World Curriculum) http://campustechnology.com/Articles/2013/10/16/How-to-Teach-Entrepreneurship.aspx?Page=1

No exit "the realization that your feeling of autonomy is a fantasy" http://www.wired.com/2014/04/no-exit/

Entrepreneurial spirit and stereotypes (Read past the title to the end. You need not be a misfit.)


Tools to someday understand http://www.foundersworkbench.com/

Look at what others are doing

Indiegogo https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/trackr-bravo-the-thinnest-item-tracking-device-ever

Kickstarter http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/radiantfabrication/lionhead-3d-printer-and-3d-scanner-with-li-modelin, http://radiantfabrication.com/pages/lionhead

Startuply http://www.startuply.com/Startups/

Finalists at NCSU competitions: http://ei.ncsu.edu/egames/2013-finalist-semifinalist-teams/

Dragon innovation http://www.dragoninnovation.com/

Education Investor portfolios: Learn Capitol http://www.learncapital.com/portfolio/, New Schools Venture Fund http://www.newschools.org/ventures , Kapor Capital http://www.kaporcapital.com/view/portfolio/, New Markets Venture Partners http://www.newmarketsvp.com/portfolio/, Rethink Education http://rteducation.com/portfolio/

Begin to get started

Start with 'Why.' Martin Luther King did NOT say "I have a plan." Instead, "I have a dream." Simon Sinek http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sioZd3AxmnE&feature=youtu.be

Elevator pitch builder http://www.alumni.hbs.edu/careers/pitch/

Entrepreneurs toolkit http://witoolkit.com/

Entrepreneur.com http://www.entrepreneur.com/

Entrepreneur.org http://www.entrepreneurship.org/en/Resource-Center/Topics/The-Entrepreneur.aspx

Getting started http://marriottschool.byu.edu/sitemap/?id=10994

Startup Smart http://www.startupsmart.com.au/home-based-business/running-a-business-from-home/two-australian-university-business-accelerators-named-in-top-global-list/2013071910263.html

Get involved in your local ecosystem http://southernalpha.com/the-feed/get-involved-in-your-citys-entrepreneur-ecosystem/

Dream Big America - Every Tuesday, three entrepreneurs will present their business ideas on the first-ever live radio show startup competition, and America votes for the winner. Listen and vote http://dreambigamerica.us/, http://www.kauffman.org/entrepreneurship/kauffman-foundation-partners-with-weekly-dream-big-america-live-radio-entrepreneur-competition.aspx

Founding by founders https://www.sequoiacap.com/grove/starting/founding

Crash course in funding http://www.paulgraham.com/startupfunding.html

Google entrepreneurship online learning http://www.google.com/entrepreneurs/onlinelearning/

Take an online course

How to Start a Startup http://startupclass.samaltman.com/ - from Y-Combinator founders, a MOOC focused on software startups. Like all these classes, take with a grain of salt. Interesting Paul Graham kinda wishes he had studied physics.

Kauffman foundation http://www.kauffman.org/what-we-do/entrepreneurship

MIT OpenCourses beginning with Inventions and Patents



Who Owns The Icehouse http://whoownstheicehouse.com/video/

Yale Entrepreneurial Institute talks summaries http://yei.yale.edu/yei-resources

NOVOED https://novoed.com/

Stanford Innovation and Entrepreneurship Certificate http://create.stanford.edu/certificate.php, http://campustechnology.com/articles/2013/09/30/stanford-launches-online-innovation-and-entrepreneurship-course.aspx?=CTCLV

EPICENTER Online courses http://epicenter.stanford.edu/resource/epicenter-online-courses

Steve Blank's Lean Launchpad class and other resources http://steveblank.com/slides/

12 Tips for customer development interviews http://giffconstable.com/2010/07/12-tips-for-early-customer-development-interviews/

Customer Discovery Best practices https://docs.google.com/a/vt.edu/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=dnQuZWR1fHRoZS1zdGFydHVwLWNsYXNzfGd4OjM1ODViZGM4NWExM2QyZDc

Developing Innovative Ideas for New Companies: The First Step in Entrepreneurship, a U.Maryland MOOC, https://www.coursera.org/course/innovativeideas (described at http://nciia.org/open/presentation/200000-served-experiences-from-a-mooc-on-entrepreneurship-and-innovation/)

Get into University of Wisconsin-Madison classes and programs

The WARF UpStart Program for Minority and Women’s Entrepreneurship is designed to equip entrepreneurially minded women and minorities in the Madison area with the tools needed to launch or expand any business venture. http://www.warf.org/home/news-media/campus-programs/upstart/upstart.cmsx

New class offered in entrepreneurship for non-business majors


Arts Enterprise: Art as Business as Art http://artsenterprise.wisc.edu/class-spring-2013/

Entrepreneurial Residential Learning Community seminar http://www2.housing.wisc.edu/classes/docs/Fall2013/ERLC.pdf

Starting a Software Company, UW-Madison gets serious about supporting student software developers http://www.thedailypage.com/isthmus/article.php?article=38723

Representative Small Business Development Center class http://sbdc.wisc.edu/startup/etp/default.asp

Bolz Center and the Arts http://bus.wisc.edu/centers/bolz-center-for-arts-administration/research-special-projects

Take a crash course at Madison College


Plan on a business plan and plan on changing it

Biz plan guide http://leeds-faculty.colorado.edu/moyes/html/resources.htm

Arts Feasibility Study Challenge http://ei.ncsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Arts-Venture-Feasibility-Study-Template_Final.pdf

Sample business plans http://www.bplans.com/

A VC's advice https://www.sequoiacap.com/grove/posts/6bzx/writing-a-business-plan

Learn about patents and intellectual property

US Patent Office http://www.uspto.gov/inventors/patents.jsp

Search US patents http://www.uspto.gov/

Search elsewhere http://www.library.illinois.edu/biotech/researchtools/patents.html

Free patents online http://www.freepatentsonline.com/

General information from WARF http://www.warf.org/home/for-uw-inventors/for-uw-inventors.cmsx

Lab notebook advise http://www.warf.org/home/for-uw-inventors/lab-book-guidelines/lab-book-guidelines.cmsx

Industrial partnerships research agreement guide http://www.grad.wisc.edu/oip/RschAgreeGuide.html

Documents http://www.foundersworkbench.com/document-driver/

Company research

Securities and Exchange Commission EDGAR http://www.sec.gov/edgar/quickedgar.htm#.VG-Jj4eJmB1

Marketing is important

Beginners guide http://www.inc.com/magazine/20090901/guidebook-how-to-conduct-market-research.html

More resources http://www.soisourcelink.com/for-businesses/resource-library/marketing-market-research

Learn from UW startups

Care to meet companies spun-off from University of Wisconsin? http://ww.bus.wisc.edu/insite/insite-census/

University Research Park tenants http://www.universityresearchpark.org/tenants/tenant_profiles/

WARF technologies http://www.warf.org/technologies.jsp

WARF Accelerator program pipeline http://www.warf.org/home/for-uw-inventors/accelerator-program/in-the-pipeline/in-the-pipeline.cmsx

Join a UW student organization

UW Madison Student Business Incubator http://uwmadsbi.com/

UW Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization (CEO) http://www.uwceo.com/welcome-to-uw-madison-ceo/

UW Madison Transcend Engineering https://win.wisc.edu/organization/transcend/about

UW HubClub, computer science students http://thehubclub.wordpress.com/about/

Entrepreneurial Residential Learning Community, a vibrant community of students that pursue all imaginable majors. http://www.housing.wisc.edu/erlc

Professional websites, student rates, a student start-up that supports campus entrepreneurs http://www.badgerinnovations.com/

Join National student organizations

University Innovation http://universityinnovation.org/wiki/Main_Page

University Innovation Fellows website: http://dreamdesigndeliver.org

Get familiar with campus opportunities and resources

http://bus.wisc.edu/bba/mybiz/blog - Happenings for students of business

https://sites.google.com/site/100hourchallenge2013/ - ERLC 100 hour challenge

http://http://innovation.wisc.edu/ - UW Innovation Days. Turn your idea in a cash prize winning proposal through Campus Innovation Days, the Qualcom Wireless innovation Prize, G. Steven Burrill Business Plan Competition, or Wisconsin Energy and Sustainability Challenge

http://www.engr.wisc.edu/entrepreneurship.html - UW Engineering programs in entrepreneurship

http://bus.wisc.edu/centers/weinert - UW business school program in entrepreneurship

http://bus.wisc.edu/bba/academics/majors/certificate-entrepreneurship - Certificate in Entrepreneurship

http://bus.wisc.edu/degrees-programs/non-business-majors/burrill-business-plan - UW business plan competition

http://bus.wisc.edu/degrees-programs/non-business-majors/wisconsin-entrepreneurial-bootcamp - Wisconsin Entrepreneurial Bootcamp

http://bus.wisc.edu/centers/insite - Initiative for Studies in Entrepreneurship. The INSITE ENTREPRENEURSHIP GUIDE link is http://bus.wisc.edu/~/media/Bus/K-E/Insite/INSITE-Decision-Guide-4-30-14.ashx

http://www.law.wisc.edu/academics/clinics/le/index.html - Law & Entrepreneurship Clinic, legal advice

http://wid.wisc.edu/programs/hzx/ - Hybrid Zone X, a Wisconsin Institute for Discovery innovation center

http://www.warf.org/about/index.jsp?cid=61&scid=129 - WARF Discovery Challenge

http://innovation.wisc.edu/sustainability/ - Wisconsin Energy and Sustainability Challenge

http://www.ms-biotech.wisc.edu/curriculum.cfm - UW Master of Science in Biotechnology program

http://artsenterprise.wisc.edu/resources/ - New Arts Enterprise Wisconsin

http://sbdc.wisc.edu/default.asp - UW Madison School of Business Small Business Development Center

https://contest.cs.wisc.edu/ - UW Madison Computer Sciences NEST Software contest

http://www.merlinmentors.org/ The Madison Entrepreneur Resource, Learning and Innovation Network (MERLIN) is a Madison-based corp of volunteers who have masterfully started and managed new ventures. These mentors use their skills, experience and enthusiasm to guide emerging entrepreneurs in early stage ventures to boost the potential of business success.

http://innovation.wisc.edu/tong/ Tong Prototype Prize

http://energy.wisc.edu/wienergychallenge SAGE Global Stewards Sustainability Prize, Submit a 4-5 page technical report outlining a new technology to advance sustainable and affordable energy. The winning idea receives up to $50,000.

UW Advocacy Consortium for Entrepreneurs http://today.wisc.edu/events/view/67280

Discovery to Product D2P http://d2p.wisc.edu/ Discovery to Product or D2P is a major new partnership between UW–Madison and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) focused on entrepreneurship and building on a long legacy of collaboration to move UW–Madison-inspired technology and innovation to market.

http://www.xconomy.com/wisconsin/2014/03/04/california-vc-greg-robinson-to-lead-wisconsins-4490-ventures/ 4490 Ventures capital

http://www.ocr.wisc.edu/resources-for-entrepreneurs-on-campus/ - Office of Corporate Relations Resources for Entrepreneurs

Check out off-campus local resources

http://www.gener8tor.com/portfolio/ - local accelerator with internships sponsoring 5 startups/yr (accept rate ~5/300)

http://www.caboosecoworking.com/?m=0 - local coworking hub for startups

http://100state.com/projects/all-projects/ - local coworking hub, see events http://100state.com/events/

http://www.cwd.org/business/commercial-space/madison-enterprise-center/ - Madison Enterprise Center is an office and light industrial business incubator that serves start-up and expanding small businesses.

http://www.madcelerator.com/ - local business accelerator

http://www.instituteforartsentrepreneurship.com/ - Institute for Arts Entrepreneurship

http://www.cvent.com/events/2013-wisconsin-entrepreneurs-conference/event-summary-234f1e5a7d2e451c98a369e3554b4b60.aspx - Wisconsin Entrepreneurs Conference 2013 in Middleton

http://www.artupweekend.org/, http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/94693526/artup-weekend-0 - Artup Weekend, arts startup weekend, Madison 26 July '13

http://www.amfam.com/dreambank/ Dreambank on Madison's Capitol Square

http://nibletz.com/2013/07/31/madison-entrepreneurs-civic-leaders-team-create-starting-block/ Starting Block, a proposed local incubation hub.

http://www.lawrence.edu/academics/IandE/courses/inPursuitofInnovation.shtml - Lawrence U.

Opportunities and connections in Wisconsin and beyond

http://www.uww.edu/wisc/ Wisconsin Innovation Service Center

http://www.s.co/region/wisconsin Startup America

http://www.startupwisconsin.org/ Startup Wisconsin

http://www.wbiastate.org/ Wisconsin Business Incubation Association

http://bpc.mhwebstaging.com/ Wisconsin Governor's Business Plan Competition ($100,000)

http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Center-Technology-Commercialization-5026904?home=&gid=5026904&trk=anet_ug_hm, Center for Technology Commercialization

http://http://www.wisconsintechnologycouncil.com - Wisconsin Technology Council

http://inwisconsin.com/entrepreneurs-and-innovators/ - Wisconsin Economic Development Department, Division of Entrepreneurship and Innovation

http://www.wisconsinangelnetwork.com/ - Wisconsin Angel Network. See their extensive resources for entrepreneurs http://www.wisconsinangelnetwork.com/resources/entrepreneurs/

http://www.wisecurity.org/ - Wisconsin Security Research Consortium

http://wisconsintechnologycouncil.com/policy/BPC/ - Wisconsin Governor's Business Plan Contest

http://www.ideas2profits.org/ Ideas to Profits conference

http://www.soisourcelink.com/for-businesses/introduction - State of Ingenuity, links entrepreneurs to resources in southern WI and northern IL, http://www.soisourcelink.com/for-businesses/resource-library

http://www.scientistsolutions.com/default.aspx - Life science forum by scientists for scientists

http://i2c.calit2.net/ - Interdigital Innovation Challenge

http://www.sikorsky.com/vgn-ext-templating-SIK/ctrndr?vcmid=b474b8df91530410VgnVCM1000004f62529fRCRD&siteName=Sikorsky Sikorsky Innovations Launches a Transformed Entrepreneurial Challenge to Embrace Entrepreneurial Agility, http://www.sikorsky.com/EChallenge

http://www.hultprize.org/en/ Hult prize business competition

http://cep.mit.edu/ MIT Clean Energy Prize

http://www.cleanenergytrust.org/challenge/ Clean Energy Challenge

http://www.worldfoodprize.org/ World Food Prize

http://www.hbs.edu/newventurecompetition/business-track/Pages/default.aspx Harvard New Venture Competition

NYC Challenge http://www.nycedc.com/program/nyc-next-idea

VT KnowledgeWorks Global Student Challenge http://www.vtkwglobal.com/student_track2013

Hackovate Health Challenge http://hackovate2013.istart.org/?a=94079-12855-1741

Flow Clean Energy Challenge http://flowdoe2013.istart.org/?a=94079-12855-1741

Pirates Pitch http://piratespitch2013.istart.org/?a=94079-12855-1741

Collegiate Inventors Competition http://collegiateinventors.org/

Learn about national organizations

National Collegiate Innovators and Inventors Alliance (NCIIA) The NCIIA's mission is "to support technology innovation and entrepreneurhisp in higher education to create experiential learning opportunities for students and successful, socially beneficial innovations and businesses." http://nciia.org

National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (EPICENTER) http://epicenter.stanford.edu/

Small Business Innovation Research Programs (SBIR/STTR) www.sba.gov/sbir

U.S. Department of Energy Inventions and Innovations Program clearinghouse@ee.doe.gov

National Business Incubator Association resources for entrepreneurs http://nbia.org/resource_library/

and globally

University Business Incubator Index Global Top List 2013 http://ubiindex.com/global-top-list-2013/


Global internships http://www.globalexperiences.com/careers/business_internships.php

Do the right thing. That might be a B-corp or social entrepreneurship

"helping people in the world’s toughest places survive the crises they confront and turn them into opportunities" http://www.mercycorps.org/innovations

Egypt http://www.wamda.com/2013/08/women-social-entrepreneurs-upper-egypt-boost-world-bank

Crowd source funding is a new way to get started


Alumni finder: http://www.alumnifunder.com/

Kickstarter: http://www.kickstarter.com/ (see research funding page)

Startup accelerators and angels and venture capitalists can help you along

Baird Capital Partners (Madison) http://www.bairdcapital.com/team/baird-capital-team

4490 Ventures (Madison)

HealthX Ventures (Madison) http://healthxventures.com/

American family Ventures (Madison) http://amfamventures.com/

Techcrunch: http://techcrunch.com/startups/

Y-Combinator, Mountainview CA http://ycombinator.com/faq.html Essays and views http://www.paulgraham.com/articles.html

Techstars, Austin, Boston, Boulder, Chicago, London, NYC, Seattle http://www.techstars.com/ , http://www.inc.com/scott-gerber/david-tisch-nyc-techstars-how-to-launch-a-great-start-up.html

Angelpad http://angelpad.org/

1776, Washington DC, http://1776dc.com/

1871 Chicago digital startup center http://www.1871.com/

Lightbank - a Chicago venture capital firm http://www.lightbank.com/

MIT accelerator rankings http://seedrankings.com/

South by Southwest ranking http://www.inc.com/will-yakowicz/the-15-best-startup-accelerators-in-the-us.html

Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) competition http://siia.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1085:innovation-incubator-program&catid=27:education-overview&Itemid=1114, http://siia.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1096&Itemid=1134

Garage Technology Ventures offers a resource list http://www.garage.com/resources/. (OK, yes, I picked this one for the name...)

Sequoia Capital https://www.sequoiacap.com/ if you are willing to move to the west coast. https://www.sequoiacap.com/us/about/dentmakers

Haxlr8r - a hardware focused accelerator http://haxlr8r.com/

True Ventures - http://www.trueventures.com/founders/


U. MI. list: http://www.cfe.umich.edu/competitions-conferences

Ideas and Entrepreneurship list: http://www.worth.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2911

International: https://www.waset.org/conferences/2013/dubai/iceid/cfp.php

European: http://academic-conferences.org/ecie/ecie2013/ecie13-call-papers.htm

Really interested? Learn about entrepreneurship programs

USNews Top 25: http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/rankings/business-entrepreneurship/spp+25

Princeton review: http://www.princetonreview.com/undergraduate-entrepreneur.aspx

Entrepreneurs.com review: http://www.entrepreneur.com/topcolleges/undergrad/1.html

NYU: http://www.stern.nyu.edu/experience-stern/about/departments-centers-initiatives/centers-of-research/berkley-center/index.htm

Social entrepreneurship: http://www.pbs.org/new-recruits/learn-more/where-to-study.html, http://www.pbs.org/new-recruits/the-companies/

Singularity University (NASA) http://singularityu.org/graduate-studies-program/

Lehigh MS in Technical Entrepreneurship: launch a company to graduate http://www.lehigh.edu/~innovate/about.html

Additional resources

U. MI list: http://www.cfe.umich.edu/resources

Questions to ask in an interview

Easy-to-ask, revealing-to-answer questions for you to take with you to an interview:

1. What's the biggest change your group has gone through in the last year? Does your group feel like the tough times are over and things are getting better, or are things still pretty bleak? What's the plan to handle to either scenario?

2. If I get the job, how do I earn a "gold star" on my performance review? What are the key accomplishments you'd like to see in this role over the next year?

3. What's your (or my future boss') leadership style?

4. About which competitor are you most worried?

5. How does sales / operations / technology / marketing / finance work around here? (I.e., groups other than the one you're interviewing for.)

6. What type of people are successful here? What type of people are not?

7. What's one thing that's key to this company's success that somebody from outside the company wouldn't know about?

8. How did you get your start in this industry? Why do you stay?

9. What are your group's best and worst working relationships with other groups in the company? What are the pain points you have to deal with day-to-day?

10. What keeps you up at night? What's your biggest worry these days?

11. What's the timeline for making a decision on this position? When should I get back in touch with you?

12. These are tough economic times, and every position is precious when it comes to the budget. Why did you decide to hire somebody for this position instead of the many other roles / jobs you could have hired for? What about this position made you prioritize it over others?

13. What is your reward system? Is it a star system / team-oriented / equity-based / bonus-based / "attaboy!"-based? Why is that your reward system? What do you guys hope to get out of it, and what actually happens when you put it into practice? What are the positives and the negatives of your reward system? If you could change any one thing, what would it be?

14. What information is shared with the employees (revenues, costs, operating metrics)? Is this an "open book" shop, or do you play it closer to the vest? How is information shared? How do I get access to the information I need to be successful in this job?

15. If we are going to have a very successful year in 2015, what will that look like? What will we have done over the next 6 months to make it successful? How does this position help achieve those goals? (This question helps show your ability to look beyond today's duties to the future more than a year away.)

16. How does the company / my future boss do performance reviews? How do I make the most of the performance review process to ensure that I'm doing the best I can for the company?

17. What is the rhythm to the work around here? Is there a time of year that it's "all hands on deck" and we're pulling all-nighters, or is it pretty consistent throughout the year? How about during the week / month? Is it pretty evenly spread throughout the week / month, or are there crunch days?

18. What type of industry / functional / skills-based experience and background are you looking for in the person who will fill this position? What would the "perfect" candidate look like? How do you assess my experience in comparison? What gaps do you see?

19. What is your (or my future boss') hiring philosophy? Is it "hire the attitude / teach the skills" or are you primarily looking to add people with domain expertise first and foremost?

20. In my career, I've primarily enjoyed working with big / small / growing / independent / private / public / family-run companies. If that's the case, how successful will I be at your firm?

21. Who are the heroes at your company? What characteristics do the people who are most celebrated have in common with each other? Conversely, what are the characteristics that are common to the promising people you hired, but who then flamed out and failed or left? As I'm considering whether or not I'd be successful here, how should I think about the experiences of the heroes and of the flame-outs?

- Marc Cenedella marc@salesladder.com