As a founder, you play an important role in your startup’s success. You are as important as a good idea, seed funding or a mentor. You are the one who is responsible for taking decisions, driving day to day operations, keeping track of the market and a lot more. You are the one in whom everyone believes and whom everyone follows. You can’t afford to go wrong.
To drive your startup towards success, you must make significant improvements at both the personal and the team level. You must make changes that will drive positive results inside as well as outside. I have always believed in the quote –“The change must begin within”.
After a lot of reading, watching interviews of successful entrepreneurs and learning from my own experiences, I came up with the following 10 traits that each founder must have:
- Mindfulness- Simply said, mindfulness means being constantly conscious or aware of things that are happening around you in the present moment. Being mindful will help you to focus better in your work and will improve your concentration levels, thereby improving your work efficiency. It increases the clarity of thoughts, and helps in making sound and precise decisions. Being mindful will increase your self-confidence and will help you handle your day to day stress effectively.
- Self-reflection- Inner road-blocks make the journey arduous more than anything else. As an entrepreneuryou must question yourself every day about your goals, your behavior and your general mind state. It’s really important to have these three elements in sync with each other, to yield maximum results in life.
Importantly, self-reflection will help you to reflect back upon your decisions, analyze whether they were good or bad, and will help you to learn precious lessons from them. A regular practice will help you to become a ‘founder of integrity.’ It can help you to reprogram your mind for success.
- Commitment/focus- As a founder, you should lead by example. Commitment should be visible at every level in a startup, in order for it to succeed. And this should start from you, the founder. You cannot ask more of your team, if you are not giving your 100 per cent. You should always get your hands dirty, alongside your team. This motivates them to deliver their best. You must be committed to your startup financially and emotionally too.
As a founder, you should never have a back-up plan for your startup. I consider this a lack of faith in your own ability.
“Trust yourself, give your best. Be committed!”
- Delegation- As a founder, you must delegate day to day tasks among the best people in your team.
As a tech founder, at the start, you might find it difficult because of your ‘techie-ego’, which is normal and happens with every other tech founder. But, as a founder, you usually have more important tasks to do than actual product development. As a founder, you shouldknow the strengths of each team member and capitalize on this.
Delegation is a sign of trust and shows the strength of your team as a whole. Effectively delegating your work will help you increase your administrative efficiency. You will get more time to focus on important and high priority tasks. Moreover, you will get time to develop new skills and can contribute better towards the success of your startup.
- Optimism- As a startup founder, you are destined to face a lot of challenges in your initial days. You will face failures in product development, arranging funds, getting the early adopters etc. Optimism is what will keep you going. As a founder, whatever affects you, affects the whole organization too. When you are seen as a positive leader, your team will stay positive too, eventually increasing their work productivity. It’s been found that optimistic people are healthier and more energetic in their work approach. They find it easy to recover from failures; they are better at bouncing back after being knocked down.
- Ability to inspire- As a startup you must be able to inspire people at different stages of your startup journey viz.
- When you are looking for co-founders
- When you are building your first product team
- When you are all set up and running
When you are looking for co-founders, you must be able to inspire people for working on your vision and idea. They must believe in your idea and feel inspired to work on it. And same is the case with your first product team. To keep these guys inspired, you can put in place different systems like sharing a piece of equity from the product, or giving timely bonuses on the success of the product. You must create a lasting enthusiasm in your team for the hard work they all put in.
Further, you must always acknowledge and appreciate the efforts that you team is putting in. You must keep the team spirits up, and that begins with an appreciation for the hard work.
- Empathy- Empathy is a key quality that every founder must have. At any moment, you must be able tobetter understand the needs, problems, views and opinions of the other person. This will help you a lot in understanding the reasons behind poor performances of your team members, and you will be able to help them to improve and excel. Empathy will help you to better understand your customers and also build and develop better relationships with individual team members. You will be able to create an environment for open effective feedback and communication.
- Quick Learner- As a founder, you have to be a quick learner. In your initial days, you will have to play multiple roles, which will need a lot of learning. Learning will help you visualise better thus helping you to plan and take preemptive actions. This will also help you to grab new opportunities which you might miss otherwise.
Technology is changing fast and so is the competition. Learning is what will keep you in the race. Quick learning will help you improve processes, people and products too. Learning fosters growth, both at individual and organizational level.
- Excellent communication- A lot depends on communication when you are a startup. Bad or no communication is the major reason for most road blocks in a startup’s journey. You can come up with the wrong products, miss deadlines, opportunities, and disappoint your stakeholders just because of poor communication.
Good communication will help you manage your team efficiently. It will help you convey your thoughts in a better/correct manner thereby helping you to grab opportunities as and when they come by.
- Honesty- I think of honesty as a life value rather than a mere quality. You have to be honest all the time. Practice honesty as a value, it . will help you face difficult situations in a better and calmer manner. Being honest will help you accept your weaknesses and faults more boldly, thereby avoiding any future complications in your startup run. You will build better relations. You will avoid making any false promises which might get you into trouble. Honesty will raise your credit score and trust in the community.