Jason Ball's TechBytes

Technology & Venture Capital. Early stage venture capital news mixed with personal views and comments

3 Traits of Successful Founders

Last week I was asked what I look for in Founders/CEOs by some LPs (limited partners, the people that actually give VCs the money they invest). I gave them three characteristics that I think are critical to success:

1) Tenacity. Starting a company is hard. If anyone could do it successfully, everyone would be a successful multi millionaire/billionaire entrepreneur. As we all know, that’s not the case. What separates the wheat from the chaff? The ability to fight long after others have gone home. And wake up again, take on Goliath, and fight until you bleed. And then do it again the next day. And the next.

2) Self-sacrifice. Being successful doesn’t happen overnight and it doesn’t come for free. Many founder/CEOs I’ve worked with have been the first to cut their paycheck to zero, to invest their last dollar and even end up in divorce.  I’m not suggesting that level of sacrifice is what it always takes, but if you’re going to get in the water with sharks, you’d better be willing to lose a leg. Or more. If you can’t deal with that level of risk (commitment), you’d probably better stay on the beach. Something will definitely be lost along the way (and other things gained).

3) Salesmanship. Two words: Steve Jobs. Greatest salesman of all time. He had ability to outsell everyone. Has to be like that with a CEO too – sell the vision, sell the product, sell the company, etc…

There are other qualities I look for as well, like the ability to select a crisp font or color palate for corporate presentations, or possibly impeccable taste in hot dogs, but those are slightly further down the criteria ladder…

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