What Are The Five Traits Of Successful Founders?

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I’ve worked with engineers that are great CEOs. I worked with non-technical founders that have made great CEOs too. So, it isn’t easy to just say that one is better than the other.

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However, there’s one consistent thing, actually there’s more than one consistent thing I’ve seen in the successful startup founders, be them technical or non-technical, that I’ve seen:


A. The successful startup founders own the company vision.

Every successful founder that I’ve worked with and that I’ve known has known exactly how they want to grow their company. Yeah, you might not know every detail, every hire, and every pivot, but you likely have a pretty good idea of how things are going to unfold.

That leads directly to the next point:


B. The successful startup founders know how to lead.


There’s a confidence that I see in successful startup CEOs. This doesn’t mean they are outgoing.

In fact, many of the startup CEOs I’ve worked with are shy. However, that’s not the point.

The point is that you project an inner strength. That inner strength is like a magnet. Your team sees it. Your customers see it. And your investors see it.

This leads directly to the next point:


C. The successful startup founders know how, or learn how, to sell.


Whether you like it or not, you’re going to be the first VP Sales your company has. It doesn’t matter if you’re an engineer that’s never sold a thing, you’ll be the best salesperson your company has.

Yes, you might be rough around the edges at the start. You might even be a little tentative. None of this will matter.

The reason is that your vision and understanding of your product will shine through. This leads to the next point:


D. The successful startup founders have to be able to take a punch.


Stuff is going to happen. You can count on it. Maybe it will be your co-founder quitting at the absolute worst time possible. Maybe it will be your investor(s) pulling their support. Maybe it will be your 50% customer not re-upping their contract.

Whatever it is, you’re going to get punched. The successful founders somehow, someway, roll with it. They figure out a way through whatever the crisis they’re facing is.



E. The successful startup founders have to be able to project these four traits to the outside world. In other words, the successful startup founders have to be able to raise money.


Almost by definition, if you can master traits A through D, you’ll be able to raise money. And, in case you’re wondering, very startup needs to raise money.

You may raise money from your friends and family, or angels, or VCs, but you’ll need funds to get started.

It doesn’t matter if you’re technical or non-technical, your vision will attract investors. Your leadership will attract investors. Your sales ability will attract investors. And, your ability to take a punch will attract investors too.


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