There are different opinions on what it really takes to become a successful entrepreneur, but the greatest startup founders and CEOs often share similar qualities.
The following is based on an article by Alejandro Cremades published in Forbes magazine
1) Knowing How to Delegate
Josh Abramson, turned down a $9 million buyout offer at just 18 years old. He has gone on to build other startups, such as Vimeo, that he has cashed in on for tens of millions of dollars. He gives a lot of credit to the other great entrepreneurs he has worked with. From his point of view, you’ll only stay interested and growing if “As soon as you have an opportunity to delegate something to someone else so that you can focus on the next thing,” you’ve got to do it.
2) Being Able to Lead in Different Ways
Sam Yagan has led a company to a $400 million IPO, was the CEO of The Match Group, and more recently has raised $40 million for ShopRunner.
From both teaching at Harvard and being a CEO, Sam says he has learned the value of connecting in different mediums and styles.
He says “If you only had one teaching style, you were inevitably going to leave most people behind,” and “just as people have different learning styles, people have different ways to follow.
People want to be led in different ways.” Being able to both teach and lead can make all the difference for a startup and founder.
3) Don’t Get Married to the Outcome, Just Get to Work
John Carder started flexing his entrepreneurial spirit as a kid selling microwaved hot dogs in his driveway.
He has gone on to become a millionaire at just 27 years old, and raised over $40 million for other startups.
He points out that you can never guarantee the outcome of anything you do.
There are so many factors involved. That can apply to hiring, launching a new idea, advertising, raising money, and more.
If you go in with the right mindset and stay flexible, any pivots are just great learning experiences and opportunities to improve.
There are no real failures. You just keep growing and getting better. So, just get to work and make the best decisions you can with the data you have and the best advice you can get.
4) Focus On Execution Vs. Falling in Love with the Idea
Most aspiring entrepreneurs get glossy-eyed and mesmerized by their own genius products and business ideas.
Will Herman has gone from selling startups for over $700 million, to becoming a very active angel investor himself.
He believes that it is more important to focus on execution than the idea.
The truth is that most ideas are not that unique.
The difference between those that become big successes is mostly taking action and getting to market.
Will says, “A good team can execute on a mediocre idea and make it great and make a great company.”
Of course, a weak execution on the best ideas can lead to a complete flop too.
5) Amazing Storytelling
Of course, to get the money to build a great team and fund the execution, it can be necessary to raise from outside investors. That requires great storytelling skills. As does recruiting the best talent, advisors, and selling to customers.
One of the top angel investors, Fabrice Grinda, says “when you’re an amazing storyteller, and you have great control of your numbers and your vision, you’re going to be able to raise money at every stage.”
6) Warrior Instinct
Having raised $70 million for his own startup, being among the ranks of Y Combinator founders and becoming a pivotal figure at the heart of Canada’s new tech ecosystem, Michael Litt knows a thing or two about what it takes to make it and the founders to bet on as a funder.
He says, “we look for what we call a chip on the shoulder or the warrior instinct.” Though “ideally you have experience in that world to have real user and product empathy.”
7) Accountability & Commitment
Most startup ideas just slip away. Not enough action is taken or would-be entrepreneurs just take far too long to get to market.
Adeo Ressi who started the Founder Institute, and sold two billion dollar companies before he hit 30 years old, sees one of the big differentiators in great entrepreneurs as being “willing to commit to several months of intensive focus and are accountable for making things happen.”
8) The Immigrant Spirit
Thomas Korte has helped entrepreneurs raise over $1.4 billion for their startups, as well as founding one of the top-ranked startup accelerators. One of the key traits Korte sees in great entrepreneurs is the ‘immigrant spirit’. That is being willing to move wherever you need to make things happen and really go for it.
9) Being Skeptical
Kevin O’Connor was a founder behind Google’s Double Click and sold another business to IBM for $1.5 billion. Yet, while it may sound ironic coming from a tech entrepreneur, Kevin says one of the key patterns he sees in successful founders is “the ability to be sceptical, especially about technology, and really focusing on what problem they are solving.”
All too often, the problem founders think they are solving just doesn’t resonate with customers. Be optimistic and bold, but always test and get feedback too.
10) Great Listener
David Klein is the founder of CommonBond. To date, he has raised over $4 billion.
From David‘s perspective, this is “listening to what other people have to say, not just what they’re saying, but reading between the lines and understanding what they really mean is very important.“
Furthermore, concerning listening, David states “that’s the case in talking to investors and trying to understand what’s important to them.
That’s the case in talking to new potential employees who you’re looking to recruit onboard as well as current employees who you’re looking to make and keep happy within the four corners of business objectives.
It’s important with regulators. With industry players so that what you do as a business squarely fits with what you need to be doing as a business. Hearing what the other side is trying to say both directly and between the lines is important to business building.“