While there are many behaviors that separate great leaders from posers, there are 7 behaviors that every successful startup founder has in common. Building a startup is like continuing to put your hand in a light socket and getting shocked over and over. It is painful and sometimes seems like the end of the world. The ups and downs are tremendous. A true leader can get through these, never unscathed but being able to shield their team as best as possible.
Each day, issues will arise. Many are foreseen and taken care of while most are a surprise and can put you in a tough spot. What we do with these is what separates us from the rest. It is how you handle problems that make the difference. There are few differences when starting a company regardless of where it ends up. While you need to have a solid foundation of technology or a great idea. What makes it successful is how the leaders take on and manage every day.
It is impossible to be perfect, and not one of us is. We all go through the same problems, and they don’t change from one company to another. We must power through them and get to the next one to see success. Understanding there is always another problem ahead is critical. If you think you’re done and will have smooth sailing quit now as that never happens.
These are the 7 behaviors that separate the winners from the losers when it comes to successfully scaling a startup.
Get it Done Now Attitude
Call it what you want but if you ignore a situation or procrastinate you are simply letting more problems build up. Tackle each issue as they present themselves and do not shy away thinking it will go away because it never does. It only gets bigger. Unfortunately, many startup founders just can’t deal with the stress of modern life, so they ignore problems. Being successful means powering through the garbage thrown at you daily.
A successful startup founder always takes responsibility for their lack of effort and achievement. What they don’t do is try to make others look bad by talking down the achievements of others. A founder who has high self-esteem and confidence can acknowledge others and learn from their successes to learn from. Having envy or jealousy of others is a clear sign of weakness and never amounts to anything. Being satisfied is a trait many see as giving up, but it is realizing success is many things and if you are never satisfied you will drive your team into the ground.
If you cannot take responsibility for your lack of effort and look at others with disdain, you will never be content. While we are all striving for success and to be the best, we must find levels of contentment. For instance, many people will be more successful and achieve great heights. That does not mean they are smarter. And success is a measurement each one of us does see differently. I don’t necessarily see having a billion-dollar company as a success if someone is not satisfied. If you’re not content with your accomplishments, you can never be happy. Many “so-called” successful people are miserable because they cannot find a place of peace with their accomplishments.
Leading by Example
Founders who ultimately find success can lead by example. Unsuccessful people often delegate everything to others and never get their hands dirty. Being a leader is about showing others how to be successful. Each successful person in this world has put in hard work and became who they are by leading people firsthand. When teams come up with ideas a great founder is the first to offer to try it, they are the ones who should be willing to get bloodied if it fails.
Available for Your Team
Just because you say you’re the Founder and CEO does not mean you can simply do your own thing. I have seen founders completely disengage themselves from their team and claim they have so much work to do they have no time to be a part of the little things. It is those little things that can make or break a young company and crush its spirit. The minute you don’t have time for your team you have told them they are not important. It is critical in a young startup for a founder to be completely available to their team.
I worked with a startup founder who was so over the top with nit-picking that it drove everyone crazy. This person could never just say “great job” … they always had to make changes no matter how small, or for that matter, irrelevant. Most of the time it was simply to make sure everyone knew they were the founder and the smartest person in the room. In most cases, this destroys a team. Having flexibility with the petty procedures and processes makes for a happy team. Nothing and I mean nothing, is ever perfect but not having flexibility destroys morale faster than anything else.
Many startup founders can be closed off in the idea process and come across as condescending. This is a clear sign of being insecure. Needing to always make it your own shows weakness above all. Great founders have lots of confidence in their own knowledge and worth and use that to build others up by keeping the communication flowing. Having an open mind and letting others create helps everyone to be successful not just the founder. Hugely successful and well-adjusted people are happy to share what they know and learn from others.
There are hundreds of attributes that make up successful individuals. These are the most obvious and can make or break a company very quickly. No matter who we are we all get sucked into some of these behaviors from time to time. I write about things like this as it keeps me in a better space. Success is what we make it.