Updated 16 April 18
It takes a particular kind of person to take on the unpredictable, but exciting roller coaster of starting your own business. So what characteristics make a great founder and more importantly, do you have them?
“Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to change the world?” - Steve Jobs to John Sculley when trying to convince him to work for Apple.
Having a vision transforms average entrepreneurs into remarkable founders. The ability to see well into the future is essential if you want to survive the ups and downs of starting a business. If you can pursue your vision whilst executing day-to-day objectives, your startup will have a much stronger chance of success.
Don’t underestimate the value of being a good listener. The best founders soak up any advice and knowledge they can get and act on it accordingly. Starting a business is a journey full of unknowns. You won’t know the answer to everything, so listen to the experienced people around you. Your team is there to guide and support you, not lead you down the wrong path. Have a little trust.
Founders wear many hats. At 9am you’re part of the marketing team, by noon you’re discussing code and the 3pm lull? It’s customer service time. This doesn’t mean you need to be an expert at everything (who is?), but you’ll have to adapt to the different areas you’re working on and muck in where you can.
Whilst you can develop the skills needed to grow a startup, passion and drive is something you can’t learn. Unfortunately, it’s not a ‘fake it till you make it’ kind of situation. It takes a lot of dedication to carry on through the twists and turns of starting a business, so if you don’t have passion it’s easy to lose your way.
If you’re someone who doesn’t need to wait for instructions and can take the initiative to drive progress, you’re on track to being a great founder.
A founder who starts a business in an area they know inside-out are going to find the process much easier than someone who has no domain knowledge. To be able to build the right product or market successfully to your target market, you need to have a fair bit of expertise about the problem you’re solving.
Having said that, if you’re not an expert in your domain, you can bring in a cofounder who does have that knowledge.
You will need a thirst for knowledge, know what questions to ask and be keen to find a better way of doing things. Being curious is the best way to create a successful business because the more questions you ask, the more feedback you get. And that’s how you build a great product.
Are you ready to start your journey as a founder?