5 Qualities Every Founder Should Have
BY Ilya Pozin
A great idea and a bit of luck will help you get started. But these essential traits are what keep founders going when things get rough.
Dreaming up a promising idea and then executing your vision certainly matters in business. But it's not the only thing. Success matters, too, on the make-up of the founder.
To gain insight into the crucial qualities of outstanding business founders, I reached out to Mike Rothenberg, founder and CEO of the seed fund Rothenberg Ventures. He speaks with business founders every day and has a pretty specific idea on the core traits necessary for long-term success.
Here are his five essential qualities:
1. A balance of humility and confidence
You've got to have a fair amount of confidence to be a truly lucrative business founder. Without it, it's unlikely you're going to be able to generate and pitch a business idea to customers and investors. But tossing a little humility into the mix will get you even further.
By being both confident and humble, you'll avoid the arrogance trap and be more willing to solicit and accept feedback--something you'll need to ensure the success of your business. Not only will you be more apt to seek out valuable feedback, you'll be less likely to get defensive during the process. Your confident yet humble nature will allow you to filter out what's best and become as good as everyone giving you guidance.
2. A history of integrity
Selling your integrity as a business founder is crucial to your success, but it can be challenging when you only have one or two meetings with potential investors. This is where having a strong network of people to vouch for you comes into play. They'll be able to back up your level of integrity and help you win over the trust of others.
3. The niceness factor
All too often, niceness is confused for weakness. But Rothenberg certainly doesn't see it that way. In fact, he says that many of the business founders in which he invests could be categorized as "nice millennial geniuses."
When you're trying to build something out of nothing, you're more likely to drum up support and genuine respect as a personable and kind founder.
4. Courageous determination
The life of a start-up involves many challenges. If you can view these challenges as opportunities, you'll be more likely to harness the determination required to overcome them.
5. A socially responsible worldview
How are you and your business benefiting society as a whole? Are you going to create jobs? Is your business model socially responsible? Focusing on leaving a positive and sustainable mark on the world may give you a significant competitive advantage when it comes to attracting customers, employees, and investors. Don't skip over these considerations when building your company.
What are some other qualities you think every business founder should have?
ILYA POZIN is the founder of Open Me, a social greeting card company. He founded his first company, Ciplex, a digital marketing and creative agency catering to small businesses and start-ups, at age 17. @ilyaNeverSleeps