An entrepreneur’s ability to remain curious allows them to continuously seek new opportunities, learn/unlearn and keep innovating.
2. Collaboration over competition
Two brains are better than one and once you start brainstorming and sharing ideas with like-minded people, the sky is the limit in terms of creative ideas and achieving goals.
Humility strengthens self-image while simultaneously helping tone down the unhealthy ego.
C.S Lewis said it right –
‘True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.’
We tend to tell each other stories about big wins and rapid successes because they’re dramatic. It’s less interesting to hear about the small, but good things we do consistently every day. But you can’t have big wins without consistency. Consistency counts in every aspect of business, and in particular in culture.
At Cognician we consistently celebrate our people’s work in terms of the heart, the mind and the hands. We look at their work through these lenses because this is how we think about learning. Great learning experiences touch the heart, inspire the mind and direct the hands. It’s also how we think about how we treat each other and our clients. We are empathetic – the heart. We are curious – the mind. And we get stuff done – the hands.
So when we recognise great work, we recognise the passion our people put into it. We acknowledge the quality of their thinking. And we applaud their speed to action. There is consistency across the way we design our platform, the way we design learning experiences, and they way we interact with colleagues, clients and users. And there is consistency every day in how we apply and celebrate these principles. And it’s only because of this consistency that we win big.
VISION AND PURPOSE
At Hoxby we exist to create a happier, more fulfilled society through a world of work without bias. This has never changed. Being a founder is an emotional rollercoaster – the highs are so high, but there are inevitable tough times too, but we have found being clear on our vision and purpose makes even the toughest of days feel easier.
Clear, inclusive communication, through carefully chosen channels is a vital element of leadership, as is being full of infectious energy. You get back what you give with great communication and everyone gains. Being authentic (and not taking yourself too seriously!) is also an important part of being a great, engaging leader.
COMFORT WITH DISAGREEMENT
Any group is collectively more intelligent when we can each voice our unique perspectives. The more diverse a team, and the better the opportunities for them to constructively challenge each other, the better the solutions we’ll all reach. Getting comfortable with disagreement and finding ways to facilitate this whilst all feeling positive and working towards a common goal is a really important skill for any successful founder.
1) Tenacity – I’m sure everyone says you need to be persistent, but nothing prepares you for how much persistence you actually need. It almost always gets worse before it gets better.
2) Conviction – you have to be 100% committed to the idea. If you’re not fully behind what you’re selling, how are you going to convince investors.
3) The other guy – when you start off on the founder journey you will be knocked back more than accepted but I guarantee you, there will be another founder who hits the ground running. Gets investment immediately, reaches unicorn status for the same idea etc. What I’ve learnt, for every story about a huge investment made or a unicorn, there are 000s of ideas/businesses that fail. So, just concentrate on what you’re doing and what you can control and not on the other guy.
1) Absolute belief that what you are doing is going to disrupt the industry that you are focused on.
2) A stubbornness to keep going when it feels like there are just too many closed doors.
3) Unceasing energy to explore every single opportunity that presents itself. The tipping points will come from areas you may not even have considered.
Several factors help founders succeed in launching and scaling their businesses. Vision, timing, market dynamics, and volume of capital, to name just a few.
In addition to these factors, having certain personality traits will help founders on their journey. And, based on my experience such traits are passion, balance, and resiliency.
Passion is a powerful driver for founders looking to make an impact. And, it usually provides that necessary spark to start a new venture. As they work hard to realise their vision, founders will meet no shortage of challenges.
A balanced approach to problem-solving and resiliency to difficulties will allow one to overcome such challenges while increasing the likelihood of success.
Discipline: As a Founder you have to be extremely disciplined with your time and the way you conduct yourself. Multi-tasking is a part of the brief so prioritising, saying no and following through on your commitments are all essential and connected to discipline.
Resilience: Secondly your journey as a founder is never plain sailing. Being resilient and able to take the lows with the highs is key to staying on the path and ultimately being successful. Most founders recognise it’s a long journey and one you should enjoy versus fixating just on the end destination.
Optimism: I’m certainly an eternal optimist and suspect all founders need to be. When you’re doing something most people will say ‘you’re crazy’ you need to be optimistic and have a certain world view in order to pluck up the courage and proceed. Even when faced with set backs the best view them as opportunities to learn and grow and are able to bounce back stronger!
Passion, determination, resilience
1) The ability to take on feedback in order to evolve. If you come with your ego you will never be able to take on feedback from customers, investors or your team members. Take feedback with grace and elegance, even though you may want to defend yourself and your business. If you are able to listen to this feedback you will be able to grow and evolve.
2)Grit and Determination: It’s tough building a business, the endless nos and the constant obstacles in your way. So you will need bucket loads of this to keep going.
3)Gravitas: The ability to command and attract the attention of your team, investors and customers is very important. Don’t mistake this for ego the two are very different.
I left the corporate world in 2019 to focus on my own ideas and passions. Like most people who decide to take this step, it felt a little foreign and strange. Generally speaking, most people, including myself, like routines and habits that we are used to and anything out of that scope inflicts a level of doubt, insecurities and uncertainties. However, I’ve always known that once I discover what I truly want to do for the next 10-15 years, I would take a forward leap and quit whatever it is that I am doing and embark on my passions. I was lucky enough to discover that passion in 2018 when I worked in West Africa on a large-scale agricultural project. I become obsessed with the entire process of “seed-to-shelf” and the idea of growing and providing organic and natural products to our consumers. Although I spent most of my past career in the energy sector, the shift into agriculture was my stepping stone to launching Oxocan, a premium and organic CBD and wellness company. Launching Oxocan was very challenging as we launched in June of 2020, during the first lockdown when the whole world went into chaos. We had to do the seed round in order to finance the initial launch. This proved to be extremely difficult as people were losing their jobs left right and centre and nobody was interested in investing at that stage. From the very start, I truly believed in our business idea and that we would help a large number of people who suffered from anxiety, stress, insomnia, pain and nausea.
Passion, drive and persistence. Startups are hard, and that’s ok. If they weren’t everyone would do it.
DETERMINATION: Even if things aren’t going your way, don’t quit, it’s ok to change course but don’e let the fire burn out.
MAKE IT ABOUT THE WORK: Good people join your team to do big things and conquer challenges, not for pizza Friday and table tennis. Make sure the team are in it for the right reasons and have the business’s back.
TRUST INSTINCTS: Ignore negative commentators or tentative supporters. If you believe in your vision, execute it, it may not always work but you learn and sharpen your instincts for the next round which takes you nicely back to point 1.
Most people have ideas. But as a founder, you need to have the ability to bring ideas to life. So that’s the first. This is the quality that makes things happen.
Then as a founder, you are the one to assemble resources. This is so important in the early days. Founders do need the quality of managing all possible relationships to put the right resources together.
Then what matters is how much you want it, right? So that’s the skill to motivate yourself and others to go the distance. Many give up early but successful founders have the habit of taking it to the furthest you can take. So that is quality that gets you and the team over the line.
So the three qualities in my world are:
1) Resilience, you need to go past the norm of what most people endure. Hopefully you don’t run out of steam before you get that break. Everyday you need to put those gloves on and slug it out.
2) Confidence, but not arrogance. You need to believe in yourself and what you do but at the same time everyday is a school day. if your open to learning and constantly evolving then there is no limit.
3) Learn to step back, take a breath and take perspective. Theres always a million things to do, it never stops but clarity and energy are important to be able to maintain the endurance a founder goes through.
A bonus one:
4) Family time and support. For every great man or women is an even greater husband or wife. Our partners usually take the strain of everything else to let us focus, this is so important and a vital cog in the engine.
Passion, perseverance and persistence.
Being passionate about what you do, and passionate about sharing it with others. This passion should be based on sound judgement, the judgment or confidence in what you deliver and the solution(s) it provides.
Perseverance in the sense of having the strength to overcome challenges and obstacles that may come your way. Believe in yourself. stay focused and persevere, if you have a vision keep your eye on the target and persevere.
Persistence in staying on track despite the challenges or obstacles that you may face. If you believe you have something to give or solutions to offer, be persistent and make sure it happens! It is easier said than done, but it well worth it as you approach the top of the mountain!
► Humility – successful Founders usually have the ability to listen to what others have to say and get out from the cocoon of denial that many live in.
► Open-Mindedness – accept that the only thing constant in business is change and successful founders should be open-minded and resilient.
► Leadership – Ability to lead by example and walk the talk.
First and foremost is Grit – you have to be tough enough to weather all storms. Persistence is everything; no one will ever care about your business as much as you do. You will inevitably support mental health challenges of others, but not afford yourself the time to fall over. Have the courage to make tough decisions but always be compassionate, not cruel.
Integrity is essential. Be straightforward and honest in all your dealings if you want to build for the long term. Your clients, staff and stakeholders will respect and trust you. You will differentiate yourself from those peddling snake oil or looking to make a quick buck. Value is built with integrity. A growth mindset is a key asset. Be willing to fail to learn; embrace failure, but make sure you learn from it. If you punish failure then your teams will never use their initiative.
Don’t be too harsh on yourself, every day is a learning opportunity. You will make mistakes, some small, some huge. Dwelling on them unnecessarily and beating yourself up will only impair your ability to act in the future. As the inimitable Zig Ziglar once said “Failure is an event, not a person”.
Team Building Ability –The alchemy of the team behind a business is key to its success. When people really connect with their colleagues it creates an environment where the individual feels both supported and challenged, and that’s when they can reach their true potential.
Resilience – A founder needs to continuously demonstrate to their team that the inevitable challenges that arise in business are not only surmountable but an opportunity for personal growth.
Goal Orientated – A founder will constantly be pulled in every direction and the pace can be relentless. The ability to set goals and step away from the day to day distractions to work towards them is critical to a business’s growth.
1. Grit – The journey is harder and longer than you expect and you need to be resilient to bounce back fast and strong from setbacks.
2. Energy – Passion and energy take founders and their teams through the journey
3. Bold – Being willing to take big and bold bets that drive change
Three qualities that make you successful: Vision. Passion. Persistence.
On top of this, keep talking to others – open, listening, and learning. It’s easy to disappear down a rabbit hole if your team is small and you only have yourself to consult. Five minutes with others can beat five hours with yourself.
Keep challenging your approach – can you do it smarter? Be willing to pivot your approach – it could pay dividends earlier than you think. Keep fit alongside the work bit and take time out to invest in relationships. Emotional, mental and physical fitness will help your resilience in business and help keep you alive, positive, and weather the tough times.
Don’t chase the money. Genuinely aim to impart information of value, and change the world or your corner of the market for the better with care and integrity, and financial stability will be a natural byproduct.
Be patient. Success comes from doing something you love, better than other people who love that same thing. Success does not happen overnight. For 11 years business was hard and in our 12th year everything clicked into place.
Be tenacious and constantly innovate. Consumers are fickle and market circumstances are volatile. We thought each new piece of legislation that came in would make the business unviable, but it actually had the opposite effect and forced us to be more efficient. What initially looks like a massive problem can sometimes end up being a positive.
Fire fast and hire slow. Great people are the solution. Pay them appropriately and treat them with love and respect, and they will move mountains for you.
1. Leader – this is more than just management, it’s about making sure everyone understands the vision and wants to be part of the mission.
2. Connector – talking to people, helping people and connecting the dots should be in their blood, if not, they need to learn to love it.
3. Resilience – being a founder can be lonely and stressful as things won’t always go to plan so keeping an eye on the horizon is key when things get bumpy along the way.
Patience, Perseverance and Passion.
Setting up a business is a huge multidimensional challenge. It takes time, love and determination to transform all the errors you have to make into the optimum system for your money machine to work. Make sure you love the problem you are solving for people, in return for the money and lifestyle you are creating to keep giving you the strength to do it as it is a huge journey. Your business can only get as big as you. Personal development is crucial to do alongside running a business. Never give up. If every day you can lay more bricks eventually you will create the empire you have always dreamed of…
In my view the three qualities successful founders share and which have served me well are…
Resilience – not everything will go your way.
The ability to keep things simple – it’s surprising how many people overcomplicate and can’t see the wood for the trees
The guts to move a vision or idea into action – there are many who talk a good game in the stands but the successful folks are out on the pitch putting the talk into action – even if they don’t always get it right straight away.
Listening skills – If you’re like me, and many other founders, you’ve been thrown into a position at the top that you may not necessarily be qualified for. I didn’t go Uni to study to be a CEO, so why should I put the pressure on myself to know everything? You hire experts in your team for a reason. LISTEN TO THEM! Let them teach you about their specialities, because after all, they will be qualified in that area.
Communication skills – it sounds simple, but it’s a skill you need to get right. Not everybody will be like you, and it’s something you need to learn quickly. Some people require a lot of information to get on with a task, whilst others might find the same information completely overwhelming. It’s learning to communicate with different types of people that will help you get the best out of your team. I’d highly recommend a management and psychology course!
Prioritisation – As a founder, you wear many hats, especially in the early years of founding a business. You are sales, you’re operations, you’re marketing….but learning to prioritise has been essential for me whilst rapidly growing my business. List out your tasks, it probably looks overwhelming at first, but figure out which of the tasks will alleviate the stress from the rest of them before diving headfirst into the top of the pile.
Being a founder myself I can confidently say the 4 qualities are
1. Self-belief – Belief in yourself and the idea is a must.
2. Risk-taking ability – Be prepared to risk all even if you are swimming against the tide.
3. Persistency and keep improving – Keep innovating even when monetisation takes time
4. Be ready to keep working even if people around you give up. If you believe in your idea, only you can take it to its logical future.
The founder qualities that I see that most often lead to success are:
1. Special insight – they see the opportunity and how to create a product to meet the need clearly (i.e. Vision)
2. Charisma – they can attract high-quality co-founders, team members, and investors (they can also do one of the three key early-stage tasks really well: build it, sell it or bring in investors) !
3. Resilience – they are mission-driven and not much if anything can stop them, they just keep pushing through the obstacles over many years!
Successful founders tend to have a burning, infectious fire inside them. Whether that’s driven by a higher purpose (e.g a problem that has to be solved for the good of society) or ego/needing to prove themselves doesn’t seem to matter too much
2. Eternally optimistic
In the face of all adversity being able to see the positive side and inspire a team even when the ground is swallowing them up
3. Opportunity seeker yet strategic in mindset
Never exploiting beyond principles but always looking for the win/win. Always aware of their strategic goals and whether those opportunities fit that vision.
Having worked alongside and spoken with hundreds of successful and failed founders, these seem to be the three driving qualities for success.
Creating something from nothing is hard. Everyone who tries, makes mistakes; and many fail. Those that succeed are the ones who are determined to succeed, even if they’d failed before; so determination would be the first of my three qualities.
Because I’m a creative, I like to look at the world through different lenses and find one that others haven’t found obvious; so curiosity and imagination combined would be my second quality.
Finally, we should all want to leave the world a better place, so every business founder should take responsibility for what they build, how they treat people, and how they contribute to society and the planet.
From my personal experience the three most important qualities I associate with a founder are;
1. Actually doing the work.
This feels blindingly obvious but is not always the case. There are a lot of founders who are always on podcasts, speaking at conferences, and otherwise, self-promoting. All valuable things to do, but none as valuable as actually doing the job at hand. Building a company is often about a lot of unrewarding hard graft hidden from public view.
2. Curiosity outside of their field.
Every founder I respect is deeply curious to learn, and the best ones are as interested in learning about things outside of their natural fields of interest as they are about how to run a company.
Your company is only as strong as the team you build, empathetic leaders build more engaged and passionate teams.
Embrace your differences – I’m neurodiverse and I no longer see the weaknesses, only the strengths.
Don’t be led by fear but by opportunity – fear only ever leads to bad decisions
Invest in a coach – mine changed my life
1 – Resilience. The ups and downs of business can be severe and those with strong resilience last longest. In my experience, the founders I have dealt with who are consistent, tend to have strong resilience and retain an even state, not responding too strongly or being too affected by the lows.
2 – Ruthlessness. Those who win make critical decisions quickly and clearly. Too often business owners lack the ruthlessness to make the decisions. The best leaders deal with them efficiently and quickly. As Jim Collins wrote in Good to Great, ‘deal with them before they deal with you’.
3 – Be outcome-focused. There’s a difference between having goals and ambitions and achieving them. Those who achieve are focused on the outcomes, not the goals and the best leaders I know are focused on results. Less talking, more doing.
1) Passion – Successful founders are often people who don’t focus on money but instead are humble and passionate about their business. The money and success will come later. Someone who enjoys their work and is passionate won’t view the hard work in the early days as a problem because they will be focused on their passion.
2) Goal Setting – It’s vital for any successful founder to set short, medium and long-term goals. When setting goals its also important to put time aside from the day-to-day workload in order to push through other actions to achieve those goals.
3) Being Analytical – There’s a saying ‘if you can measure it, you can improve it’. In my view and experience successful founders are often those who track metrics and work on improving them whether it is for staff performance, revenue targets or website traffic.
1. Know your numbers. Most entrepreneurs find it easy to be visionaries and set their goals but knowing your numbers at all times is critical to making the good decisions. Every Friday I recommend knowing both your cash position and liquidity so you can enjoy the weekend or at least have a clear focus for the next week actions.
2. Be a career PT. You are the thermometer of your organisation and everyone looks to you for both security and inspiration. Create an environment where people are inspired to achieve their personal and professional goals. Expect them to achieve them and push them to be the best they can be.
3. Set high standards and stick to them. People don’t want to work for average organisations. It doesn’t have to be perfect but the desire and vision to be the best needs to drive everyone.
A great question and an area that can influence investment. My thoughts; belief in self and product, a clear vision and passion.
Belief – There are opportunities in the market that your product can fill.
Clear Vision – The concept has been researched and feedback gained.
Passion – The old clichés still ring true. If you do not believe in your concept, then why should others? People DO still buy people and this aspect holds much influence.
Best quote for any founder, “What are you prepared to do?”
There is no life without risk so ignore the naysayers, go for it.
Be happy – Base your success measurement on happiness and not on money and social media likes. This will ensure that you never wake up wondering what it’s all for. There is no better feeling than enjoying what you do.
Work hard – It won’t come to you without you driving this forward yourself. Be operational in every part of your business so that you understand it better than anyone else. Make sure you set a structure to your day. You don’t need to fall into the trap of getting up at 4am to be successful. Many entrepreneurs are effective between 8pm and 2am.
Give value – The best deals often materialise as a result of giving real value without a motivation. Spend the time to build that network and it will be the best investment you make.
Nothing can replace working hard, as a team, towards a well defined and understood purpose.
So vision, ability to collaborate and hard work will help you succeed.
Perhaps more importantly – they’re qualities that will help you go again should you fail.
First: being a leader rather than a boss, ability to attract and motivate talented team, lead them by example, burn long hours alongside your team, share the rewards and spoils.
Second: ability to get things done, rather than just talk about them. As Guy Kawasaki said: “ideas are easy, implementation is hard”. Lead your team by example, roll up the sleeves and get those projects and products to the finish line!
Third: persistence is key, you will fail and fall many times, no matter how well prepared and experienced you are.
You need CLARITY, on why you are doing what you’re doing – who and what it will help others to achieve. This sounds relatively straightforward, but don’t underestimate this process. It needs constantly reviewing and can take months or years to fully develop.
You need a thorough UNDERSTANDING of your customers and the market they operation in. And an ability to put yourself in their shoes – what would be truly helpful? Doing the right thing for your clients by working out what will make the biggest difference to them, rather than what you might like to sell them, means you are more likely to develop trusting, long-term relationships, with more opportunity to support them in numerous areas. Long-term client relationships are hugely rewarding.
You need a good dose of OPTIMISM to help you and your team through the ups and downs, and if that’s not naturally you, then resilience is key. You have to believe that what you do will be successful. If you have real clarity on ‘why’ and “what’ you are doing, and you believe the work you deliver will make a positive difference to your clients, then there’s no reason why you won’t succeed and enjoy what you do in the process. I love my work.
1 Belief – I remember being questioned at the outset by peers, ‘ no one else is doing this, why are you doing this … you are mad’ to which I responded – ‘ thats of course why we are doing it, otherwise known as a gap in the market. Check back 5 years later and do a sanity check then! ‘ We are in the making for 17 years!
2 Share surplus – Always keep a good number of spare shares at the outset eg 20% so when you raise finance later or want to extend shares later on, you do not need to dilute your own and it’s simpler to administer.
3 is a magic number! There are three Co-founders, which takes the strain away when there are highs and lows, and means on those occasions when there are different perspectives democracy steps in!
It all starts from having a dream and believing in a better world you can create through your business. This will support you all the way to the top and even at times you think you lost everything your dream will be guiding you as a North star.
Then, leadership is important and by leadership I mean envisioning the future and how your business can positively contribute to the future. The main role of the leader is to share that vision with the rest of the company, make them believe into that vision and create a willingness to follow.
Last, but not least, you should be able to say “no” – to the disadvantageous deals, to weak partners and to poor decisions your team sometimes will come to you with. This is easy when you are ready to fight for a better world and when you clearly know what the new world should look like. As if you really know you would never accept something different.
Successful founders are inquiring, their drive to find new information is inspiring in itself, they are resilient, to roll with the punches and come back fighting, and they are altruistic, putting their employees first resulting in a productive and loyal workforce.
First and foremost, strategic vision; the ability to see an opportunity before anyone else does, to articulate the vision and communicate it to the market. Secondly the ability to get things done; this includes leadership – taking people with you – and the ability to execute; make it happen not just talk about it. Persistence is a critical quality as it will be two steps forward and one step back, it will never be as easy as you think and you have to be prepared to accept and learn form setbacks. Lastly it helps to have some luck along the way!
The three qualities I would associate with successful founders are:
1. A commitment to a determined belief that what needs doing can be achieved, and a commitment to the people that come along with you for the ride – you won’t be able to do it without them.
2. Character. Be true to yourself and embrace differences in the workplace, embrace possibility and practice inclusion without judgment.
3. The ability to listen, really listen, to everyone around you. This will be colleagues, industry experts, mentors and even competitors. There is a huge value in the experience and insight that others have gleaned through the years or in different sectors; few challenges are new.
Focus on those difficult challenging tasks first, don’t pick the low hanging fruit out of laziness.
Ensure you’re being impactful in everything you do.
Use your team, delegate workloads that don’t need your full attention, but review everything where possible.
I think to stand a chance when you open a new buiness you need to be:
1) Inquisitive, open minded and a good listener (listen to people, customers, markets)
2) You need to be comfortable taking risks and living with a high level of uncertainty
3) You should get to know & hire my close friend Percy Verance. You will need him every day…
And remember, there is a good amount of luck involved. If you make it stay modest & retain your humility, if you don’t then get up and go again.
Of course there are many varied skill sets required by founders but i would say the three key qualities would be, the belief and drive to lead and inspire the team to achieve the strategic path of the business. The ability to identify the key people as cashflow will be scarce, become part of the team, trust in your employee’s, you employed them for their skill set, so listen to their knowledge and encourage input to make your product better. Finally, I would say understanding people, everyone is different and a founder needs to understand how to communicate with everyone from Sales, marketing, Tech and even the office cleaners, having a strong relationship with your team will massively benefit the success of your business.
The first thing that anybody should do, when committing to becoming a successful entrepreneur, is Personal Development. you should have mentors but you should be committed to improving not only your intelligence but most importantly your emotional intelligence.
Secondly, many businesses fail and collapse due to CEO’s being a boss role rather than a leader, as Jamie Dimon from JPM says, “the best way to see how well your company is doing is from the standpoint of your clients and customers.” you need to put down the ego and be in the trenches! a bin needs emptying, empty the bin yourself. show your workers and team you are as equal as them. YOU need to learn how to be a LEADER, Lead effectively and you will get results!
Thirdly, LESSONS not LOSSES! I have had a few startups and invested into creating businesses that failed, but here’s the thing, I didn’t have losses, I just learnt so many ways in how not to run, or start-up, or create a business. lessons, not losses. once you are not attached to failure, fear of failure and taking a loss (money is just tokens) you will excel in your career
Successful founders in my experience have three qualities in common:
1) They develop great people around them who are experts in their own skill-set. Allowing people to find their sweet spot allows you as the founder to work on your own.
2) They spend time working ‘on’ the business and not in it. It’s always a fine line and sometimes it takes self-awareness – but if you have the right people you can allow them to get on and do the job.
3) Finally they need to understand the importance of passion burnout. As founders of a business, passion is what drives them. However, it can also pull apart the business and many start-ups fail due to founder burnout. Don’t allow yourself that risk. Take care of you. If you aren’t well, it may ultimately risk the very thing which drives you.
Empathy: Never have people been so ‘connected’ and yet so disconnected. Authentic leadership comes when we genuinely put ourselves in the shoes of our employees, partners, clients and community.
Meraki: It’s a Greek word without a direct English translation, but roughly: one-part purpose, one-part passion, with a healthy sprinkling of grit. Without a clear purpose, and delivering on that purpose relentlessly, we are leading for ego, not for meaning.
Wonder: We’re experiencing unprecedented disruption. Wonder – a combination of curiosity and awe – allows us to see possibilities where others may only see chaos. An added bonus? It makes us healthier and more generous too.
Energy! You’re going to work harder than anyone else, but also you need to bring the good vibes and drive to your team all day every day.
Open to help. No one is great at everything. Know when to listen to other people’s advice and when to go with your own opinion or gut.
Focused. The clearer your goal, the more likely you are to achieve it.
I would say most successful Founders I know are not perfectionists, they’re quick to adapt and they’re highly resilient.
By not being a perfectionist, I mean they are decisive in taking their ideas to market and getting market feedback (and ideally sales) as quickly as possible. They do not allow the fact that their website / product / offering is not as perfect as they’d ideally want it to be to delay them getting out to the market.
They’re also quick to adapt. Most business owners I know had an original idea for their business – and then once they were out in the market found they had to pivot the business to serve a genuinely viable market. So being adaptable is key.
Last but not least, they’re highly resilient. You’ll often have detractors telling you your idea will not work – and market setbacks that could derail you. Successful Founders are often those who’ve stayed the course and remained resilient in the face of such adversity and negativity.
The three qualities I associate with a successful leader are:
1. A good communicator. Someone who keeps their team up to speed, supported and driven. Especially with the current Covid19 crisis – no leader has all the answers as no one has ever lived through something like this before but having the opportunity to speak to your team to keep them motivated and to continue the culture of the company is rife.
2. A storyteller. This may be one that is more needed within a marketing leader vs other disciplines but the leaders I look up to, have worked for and aspire to allow people to come on the journey with them, they excite you and to feel empowered to do your best for their narrative and goals for the business.
3. Someone who grows people. Numbers and bottom lines are great, but you can only do that well, if you grow and develop those around you. Hire people better than you. Support people with their weaknesses in a way that inspires vs patronises. You are only ever as good as the people you have in your team.
High Quality of Mind, High Quality of Mind and High Quality of Mind!! Ok, whereas I think that is THE key quality for any leader. I’ll be less biased and more specific. Three qualities that sit underneath that are Clarity connection and creativity.
Every successful founder I’ve come into contact with are change embracers. Our current climate illustrates how fast the world can change and as entrepreneurs we have to embrace this and be constantly looking for the new; be that software, process or products.
Risk takers goes without saying as stepping out on your own into the world of business is definitely not for the faint-hearted.
It depends on how you define success, but those I believe to be successful are those who are people-focussed and prioritise people above profit. Treat your team right and they will invest in the business’s success.
Can this founder attract and retain great talent? This is a learned skill. It’s got to be the single greatest indicator for success. I like smart people with even smarter friends.
How well rounded is this founder? Founders are exposed to a plethora of new fields – business, legal, technological, psychological – and need to be able to learn and grow. I like opinionated people who already read widely and converse on more than their jobs.
How much grit does this person have? One thing for certain, things go wrong. I like people with some pain in their back story!
1. The ability & commitment to develop deep domain knowledge.
If you’re going to truly disrupt something, understanding the ‘How and Why’ of the current landscape is crucial.
You know there will be ups and downs, but you’ve no idea the extent until you’re buried deep in it. Find ways to continually work on your personal resilience as you go, or you WILL fall.
You need to sell, to raise money, to ask questions, to drive passion, to hire people, to collaborate. You’ll need to win over both hearts and minds – often in parallel. Take a ton of feedback and find your communication weaknesses. Work on them.
You need to be focus, focus, focus. You have to take actions, ALWAYS, and you have to constantly be selling and pitching! Of course, you are only able to do so if you are driven by passion! Hard work always pays back!
Persistence & consistency: Most founders experience failure and hurdles at some point in their journey — but the successful ones are those who bounce back and keep moving forward.
Humility & willingness to learn: Never assume you’ve got all the answers. It’s so important to continue to expand upon your knowledge, listen to other people’s ideas and take on new ideas and ways of working — no matter how successful you become!
A balanced lifestyle: We’ve all read the stories about entrepreneurs who work 16 hours a day and don’t take a day off for months on end. But I personally believe that balance is key to success. Working hard is necessary, but so is rest. I’ve learnt from experience that spending time away from work to refresh will only amplify results and allow me to work more efficiently and productively.
REALISM – Understand your strengths and weakneses, surround yourself with people that compliment your skills (and are more intelligent than you!) – you don’t have the time to do everything and releasing some control, while difficult for all founders, is critical for a business to run efficently and succussfully.
ADAPTABILITY – I’ve lost count of the number of business that start down one route and end up with a successful business doing something completely different. Persevere with you vision, but don’t be blinkered or closed off to the reality of the market or to other adaptions of your original plan/opportunities that present themself.
PATIENCE – We all want overnight success, it rarely happens. Be patient.
Spend as much time as you can with the front line, to truly understand what they have to endure in their attempt to deliver your service, and what gets in their way. Importantly understand how much failure demand they have to deal with to understand the root cause of the failure (it won’t be them), in order that you can help turn the failure off.
Relentlessly focus on your systems, not the people who have to endure them. 95% of all of your problems will be because your systems are not fit to deliver what your customers really want.
Understand what matters to your customers, and ensure you can measure how well you are achieving it, from their external perspective, not your own internal perspective.
1. Determination – The single most important quality an entrepreneur can have. You’ll win, you’ll lose, you’ll get knocked down. But you’ll always maintain that stubborn belief in yourself, your business, your idea and your team.
Whilst you will always hit bumps in the road, successful founders will persevere, have high levels of patience and optimism and will always find a way.
2. The ability to attract, develop and lead a team – Having a great business idea or early traction and success means nothing if you can’t inspire people to want to be on that journey with you. The ability to attract and hire great people, is the cornerstone of any successful founder or business. Once you’ve convinced them to join you, a successful founder will lead, inspire and evolve their teams as a collective and as individuals. Being a founder can be a lonely and thankless task at times, having a team that you can empower to support you and enable growth and scale, is one of the most essential ingredients to a founders success.
3. Vision – Every successful founder has a clear vision of where they are going and what they are trying to achieve. Without this clarity you can’t focus your efforts, your determination or your team. Creating clear milestones to measure your success is critical. The vision needs to identify where you’re going, how you’ll get there and what success looks like for you, your team and for the business. Whilst there will be times when you deviate from the plan or even pivot, there always needs to be a clear mission and road map to achieve success.
A dogged determination to be successful and to evolve the product mix with the market, as no point trying to sell something that nobody wants anymore, but, realizing that doing this may take you away from your initial dream.
To also find the the best team and really try to manage yourself as the founder out of the business so it can sustain itself without you on a daily basis, this will take time, but letting “go” from the daily operational and “hands-on” allows more time for strategy and creative thinking.
Finally, speaking to people, a lot. Colleagues, suppliers, customers – only by lots of dialogue will you truly understand what people truly want. Technology is great, but, far better to meet folk and talk stuff through as opposed to sending an email.
Humility. Understand that it’s human to need support. You need a good co-founder or network (like Vistage) to balance your strengths, to pick you up when you’re down, to celebrate the victories. Your team will make mistakes, and so will you. Learn, adapt, move forward.
Vision, grounded in reality. Dream big and look to the future, but keep a close eye on the present. Listen to your customers, who are the foundation of everything you do, and remember that cashflow is king.
Guts and perseverance. Setting up and then running a new venture is scary, exciting, fun, soul-destroying, reaffirming, liberating… you’ll need emotional strength by the bucketload and more courage than you think.
VISION, FOCUS and RESILIENCE are the 3 qualities i would say rank upmost for successful founders. You must possess at least a vague idea of a new reality and be able to share it with the dozens of others whom you will need to make it real, in whatever capacity that may be along the way – you will never do it alone! Focus is required because founders are the type of people who are open to lots of ideas, but ideas are just that unless they can be implemented; take advice and adapt, but do not get distracted in moving to make your vision real. Finally, you will need resilience. The ability to get up when you get knocked back – because you will get knocked back, again and again, at every stage from concept through to exit and everything in between, not least building sales.
If you believe in your product or service have a never say die attitude. Make it happen.
When things are not going your way, have the tunnel vision to push through, especially in the early days of the business – Bounce back ability.
Set and keep to five year plans
The longing desire to succeed in what you set out to achieve. But always sticking with a USP that you offer that differentiates you from your competitors.
You may grow much more quickly by cutting corners, but you shouldn’t have to compromise on great standards you have set.
To be successful, company founders need to split their time, energy and focus appropriately between internal and external demands. They will need to demonstrate many qualities including:
Vision and passion – Continuous communication of the founder’s vision, to both clients and staff, is essential to bring everyone together. The company founder will need to demonstrate passion and self-belief to get through the tough times and to encourage everyone to follow on the journey.
Reliance – Both clients and team members will need to know they can rely upon the company founder. All stakeholders will need to have the confidence and comfort that the company founder has a strong moral compass and will deliver upon all promises made.
Inspiring others to achieve their full potential – Developing a fantastic team is an early challenge for a young company leader. Like clients, they will all have different needs. Demonstrating an understanding of these needs and offering a clear route to achieving personal goals, whilst following a clear corporate strategy, is fundamentally important to keep the team moving forward together.
Show up and do the work, you don’t get results from wishful thinking. Finding the right solution takes action, even if it turns out not to be the right course at the time. There’s value in failure, so don’t be discouraged if things don’t work out. At least you’ve discovered one more way it doesn’t work.
Accept you can’t do it alone. Build a great team. They should be as excited about your vision as you are because they’re the ones who make it a reality. Once you’ve got the right people, build a culture that keeps them. The best employees need more than gimmicks, like pool tables or pizza. Give them the opportunity to learn and grow with the business. Afford them the freedom to do what they do best.
Accept that the buck stops with you. Some decisions are difficult, you’ll have to make them even if they’re not popular. Be open, honest and accountable. It’s the least you’d expect from your team. You have to be held to the same high standards, if not higher.
1 – The mental strength to deal with constant setbacks and the capacity to deal with the enormous stress that comes with running a growing business
2 – The courage to change course on a strategy or idea, even if you have been entrenched on a different course of action for some time
3 – Having no ego – being able to hire people who are more talented than you, and mould them into superstars
Knowledge of your discipline – use your passion, drive, energy and the best technology you can to demonstrate a consistent and authentic personal, employer and business brand relevant to your customers.
Flexibility – embrace change and opportunity, know your market and adapt quickly to both internal and external factors impacting your sector.
Surround yourself with great people – both those you employ and those your business partners with, to deliver a cohesive vision. Enjoy what you do.
Trust your gut instinct, it’s more reliable than you think as you know all the moving parts of your business and what you are capable of.
Refrain from getting wrapped up in business bull shit. So many people are “experts”, but they are mainly experts at talking BS and building their own hype. For advice listen to people who have done it and still do it or just listen to your gut.
Have a vision – Know where you are trying to get to (I didn’t have a vision past year 2), but if you don’t have a clear vision past a couple of years, that’s OK, it will come.
When I set up my business I was an idealist and sticking by my ideals has served me well. You need a huge amount of resilience to get going, and to keep going, and can never let that slip – the unswerving will to dig deeper when times are tough is critical. Additionally you need to be able to understand where you stand, and where the market is going, and to apply and adapt your strategies to suit – they change!
Self belief, courage and a touch of madness!!
I believe that the key qualities associated with being a successful founder are:
Motivation – Everyone has the same 24 hours a day. It’s what you do with those 24 hours which really matters. You can choose to watch 3 hours of TV. Or you can choose to work on your project and make something incredible happen. You might have to make sacrifices at the start, but it’s worth it when you reach the end goal.
Determination – If you don’t ask for something, you won’t get it. You’ll be surprised at how many people say ‘yes’ to your requests!
Set Goals – Simply wanting your business to grow isn’t enough. Instead, you need to set goals that are both tangible and realistic. Do this by setting goals per quarter and yearly and see how it accelerates your success forward.
Do quality work, customers who love your work will be your best sales team. So do what it takes to make them understand you care about their problem and you are here to help them solve it.
Make sure everyone on the team understands the vision and buys in. It can be easy to get sidetracked by work and deadlines but your team is human, and in a start-up when they are buying into the vision they are also buying into you, your relationships with them (both personal and professional) as well as your example. We are all in it together, not just on paper but in real life. Make sure you communicate that every day.
Fail, learn and forgive. It can be hard. You will make mistakes and so will your team. Handling failure well is key to any level of success. The important thing is to have a system that helps you learn from mistakes. We do retrospectives for our software projects and we also do them for client engagements, employee engagements and so on. This lets us view failure with less negativity and more as a building experience for the entire organisation.
Perception – the perception to see an opportunity
People – surround yourself with the right people to maintain opportunity and flourish
Tenacity – focused energy, having a clear and definite purpose, and not losing sight
Know your strengths and weaknesses – vital if you have a business partner. Divide the workload accordingly. This leads to a harmonious and strong relationship and your employees will feel confident and supported.
Consciously learn from your mistakes. Do not make excuses if you are in the wrong (not necessarily always the case) and always take a nugget of wisdom away with you from each negative situation to turn it into a positive learning experience. You will do better next time.
Never make assumptions. Always ask relevant questions and look for potential gaps and pitfalls before embarking on any client project.
1. Be enthusiastic about what you do. Enthusiasm rubs off on the people you work with and the people you want to do business with.
2. Be yourself and be different. I’ve created a studio culture and identity around my own values and beliefs. Don’t fall into the design/media cliche in how to portray yourself. Working in a field just outside of Bath, and naming the company after my favourite Clash song, hasn’t done me any harm. There’s no need to follow the others – be different..
3. Play the role of the client. I always put myself in the shoes of a client when working on our projects, continually challenging us as an agency before the client sees the end result. Clients are so important, so try and become one in your day to day thinking.
Hard work, determination and belief in what you’re trying to achieve. You can’t expect people to want to buy your product if you aren’t confident in it yourself. Believing that you’re the best in the market is crucial and of course, putting in the hard work to ensure you are is too. You have to be willing to put in the hard work, not just in the early stages, but as the business grows too. Never rest on your laurels.
Self belief to think they can do something different from the status quo.
The ability to inspire people to invest their money or time into the founder’s vision.
Determination because however good something is, it will have low points and that is when a good founder stands tall. Needing to deliver on my first two qualities but under immense pressure.
The most important quality in a successful founder is their ability to see things from the customer’s perspective. When you truly understand your customer, you will know where to look for them, how to approach them, how to treat them, etc. Never again will you make a change to your business and face anger because all your changes will have the customer in mind. The second biggest quality is self-motivation for obvious reasons. So many businesses start out of necessity, then never grow above a certain point as the founder just doesn’t have the “umph” to kick it up a notch. If you’re not truly interested in what the business does, then don’t start it, start one that you really enjoy and you’ll be more likely to put that little bit extra in. Finally I would say; willing to work the hours. This is not always a popular bit of advice as many retired entrepreneurs say they “wasted their 20s/30s” working long hours, but in my opinion it is the key to success. Still delegate as much as you can and hire freelancers, etc to do lower skilled tasks where possible, but if you’re reasonably successful in 35 hours a week, imagine what you could do in 50 hours… That’s the equivalent of 22 extra work weeks in a year! Family is important, so make sure you clock off and enjoy that time, but a few years of “hard grind” can give you a much more stable business that allows for more flexibility in your personal life moving forward.
Ability to react to changes in circumstance
Ability to listen
Vision – you need a espouse a vision that your employees, your customers and investors can buy into and feel as passionate about as you do
Flexibility – things will never go to plan so the ability to adapt rapidly is critical
Building great teams – the sooner you build a great (ideally diverse) team, and learn to delegate to them, the faster you will go
If you’ve founded a company that’s making lots of money but your team all hate you, you’re not a successful founder.
Accept that some of your competitors are doing things better than you are. Respect them. Admire them.
Screwing up makes you stronger, and it makes you credible. Success is born out of failures’ lessons.
A business founder starts an enterprise because they are good at something or have a good idea. The business takes root when the founder has the discipline to be good at a lot of other things (which are usually boring) – web design decisions, logistics decisions, debt collection, VAT returns. A business really takes off when the founder learns to let go of all the boring things to others and returns to their first love.
1) Work harder – everyone has ideas, you’ll always beat the smarter person by putting in the hours.
2) Turn away clients if they aren’t right. I know it hurts as winning clients is so hard. But if they aren’t right, don’t waste your energy and resource on working with the wrong clients.
3) Charge much more than you are comfortable with. Then work out how to add the value to make it worth the value you are charging.
In my opinion, to be successful founder, person should have following qualities.
Founders should have a clear, creative and innovative vision. Without a vision it will be like walking in wrong direction.
Passion, Dedication, Disciplined
Founders should be passionate, dedicated & disciplined about what they are doing. This way they will become an inspiration to their co-workers.
Founders should be persistent in putting continuous efforts for achieving the goal despite challenges.
Passion – You need to be able to get up every day with fire in your belly and a vision you connect to. It will be the bedrock of your resilience during tough times. Avoid doing anything that isn’t contributing to your passion, over time this will affect your ability to realise your vision as well as your mental and physical health.
Apply 80/20 thinking – Time is your real wealth. The 80/20 rule says that 80% of the effects and results come from 20% of the effort and resources: that can be tasks, customers, people, team, revenue. Identifying what 20% of your time and attention deliver 80% early on will pay massive dividends.
Find a mentor – Probably the most important. We need to continually learn from teachers. I really thought I knew best when I started my first business and it took me too long to figure out how wrong I was. Find someone in your industry who has achieved what you consider success, read up what they do that you don’t and emulate their behaviour, habits and leadership. You’d be surprised how much you can learn about people online. You could even reach out to them for advice, but make sure you offer something if value to them first. You may even offer to intern for them – and apply it to your future business. Books are also great mentor’s and you should build your own library. As you get some income , reinvest in your entrepreneur education whether that is paid for by time or money. “Stand on the shoulders of giants”
1) In today’s business world people value honesty and integrity. The number one decision clincher is almost always trust.
2) Look for models with recuuring revenues. One off sales strategies mean each month starts all over again. Subscription strategies mean each month is about building on the last.
3) Never underestimate the power of women. I have been told by close friends “when did you last meet a good woman programmer”. We are an AI tech company with a pretty even split. We have awesome female programmers and healthly office environment with a staff turnover of less than 2%
Resilience, getting shit done approach, competitiveness
1. Grit, determination, hope.
2. Creativity, open and curious mind.
3. Sensitivity for people, nature, art.
I think overall being a business owner the number one thing that I would pass on is that you need to be level headed, there will be highs and lows and being able to not get overly excited when things go well but not too down when things don’t go to plan is really important.
1. Enthusiasm – the ability to get anyone excited about anything!
2. Tenacity – to keep going even when it gets really, really, really tough!
3. Unflappability – the ability to remain balanced, play the long game, see the bigger vision whilst managing working through what’s in front of you.
Be humble, flexible and trust in yourself.
Dedication, Discipline and Perseverance are the key qualities to be a successful founder. If you are passionate about your skills, nothing can stop you.
25 years of our journey is a good milestone to assess the challenges faced in building a diversified group from Chemical Sourcing Trade Intelligence to Digital Technology.
Learnt from mistakes but remained focused on the target. Cared for a great team who drove the business plan to success. Never say no, if there is a will, there’s a way.