The Seven Qualities of a Good Founder

If a founder isn’t made of the right stuff, it’s doubtful their startup will thrive.

By Robert Carroll

What does it take to start a company successfully? That’s a question we think about a lot at Oasis500. We’re always looking for promising new startups, and we know that having good founders is the strongest indicator of future success. Answering the question means being able to weed out the good investments from the bad ones. Here are the seven qualities that signal a good founder:

Comfort with failure

Large, public failures are hard for most people to overcome. These kinds of failures are common in startups. But fortunately, failure has become celebrated in the startup culture, pushing great founders like Steve Jobs on to unimaginable success. If a founder has never experienced failure, he or she has probably never attempted anything very challenging, which means they may be too comfortable being mediocre.

Discomfort with mediocrity

Great founders seek to be excellent in everything they do. Bad founders are comfortable with being mediocre. Great founders try to do the impossible. Bad founders only do what has already been done.

Knows a little about a lot of things

The first five employees of a new startup should each be a jack of all trades. That means they have to be able to do a plethora of things pretty well. Graphic designers end up doing sales and management. Web developers end up doing marketing and HR. As Albert Einstein said: “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” This is the approach of a great founder.

Knows a lot about a few things

Einstein did, however, know a lot about a few things (physics, for one). In order to have a good idea in the first place, you have to know an industry, product, community or specific technology very well. Being an expert goes a long way, especially when it comes to hiring top talent and keeping them engaged.

Hires well

A good founder hires people smarter than themselves. Hiring is a talent in itself, and a good founder will work hard to hone it. Hiring should be a meticulous process, which means it often takes a lot of time. Good founders spend a lot of time picking the right people to take the company into the future.

No talk, all action.

We all know someone who likes to talk but doesn’t actually get a great deal done. These people aren’t founder material.

Loves the work

Founding a company is an extremely challenging endeavour. At times, it will be hard not to give up. But if a founder loves the work enough, they will be able to persevere through the hard times. In the words of the motivational author Napoleon Hill: “Most great people have attained their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure.”