Building a startup is like running a marathon. It can be painful, discouraging, and tempting to give up. The ups and down are tremendous. Despite this, a true leader will persevere, never unscathed but with the strength and wisdom necessary to support their team as best possible.
Every day, new issues will arise. Many are foreseen and can be easily addressed, while others are a complete surprise and require extra effort to resolve. While you need to have a solid foundation of cutting-edge technology and a brilliant idea, how leaders deal with this uncertainty and handle problems oftentimes serves as the defining factor of a startup's success or failure.
These are the 7 traits that separate winners from losers when it comes to successfully scaling a startup.
They have a “Get it Done Now” attitude.
Founders who ignore situations or procrastinate simply allow more problems build up. Tackle each and every issue as they present themselves and do not shy away, thinking they will go away on their own, because they rarely ever do. Unfortunately, many founders find it difficult to cope with the stress associated with this lifestyle, so they ignore critical problems. Being successful means powering through the garbage thrown at you daily.
They’re pragmatic and realistic.
Successful startup founders simultaneously take responsibility for their own lack of effort and achievement while applauding the achievements of others. A founder who has high self-esteem and confidence can acknowledge others and learn from their successes, as envy or jealousy is a clear sign of weakness and never amounts to anything. Being satisfied is a trait many might view as giving up, but truthfully it is realizing success is composed of many things. If you are never satisfied, you will drive you team into the ground.
Everyone strives for success, but to be the best we can we must identify our sources of contentment. For example, many people will achieve more lavish accomplishments than you, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they are meeting their definition of success. If someone is unsatisfied despite starting a billion-dollar company, that discontent will disrupt any lasting feelings of accomplishment and happiness. As a result, many so-called “successful people" are actually miserable because they cannot find the inner peace necessary to enjoy their accomplishments.
They lead by example.
Founders who ultimately find success are able to walk the walk. Unsuccessful people often delegate everything to others and never get their hand dirty, but true leaders show others how to be successful by putting in hard work and practicing what they preach. When teams come up with new ideas, a great founder is the first to offer to try it and get bloodied if it fails.
They’re available for their team.
Founders and CEOs can never fully disengage and do their own thing. In instances where founders claim they have too much work to take part in the “little things,” it’s oftentimes those little things that end up making or breaking a young company, not to mention crushing the team’s spirit. The minute that you don’t have time for your team, you have told them that they are not important. It is critical in a young startup for a founder to be completely available to their team.
Imagine a founder who nit-picks everything you do to the point where you want to quit. This person never simply says “great job” and lets go; they always have to make changes, no matter how small or irrelevant. Most of the time, this behavior is to make sure everyone know that they’re the founder and the smartest person in the room. In most cases, however, this results in an empty room, as everyone has either transferred or quit. An easy remedy: having flexibility with such procedures and processes. Nothing is ever perfect, but not having flexibility can do more harm than good.
They are open minded.
Many startup founders can be closed off in the idea process and come across as condescending. This black-box mentality is a clear sign of insecurity. 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 make the entire team successful. Truly well-adjusted people are happy to share what they know and to learn from others.
There are hundreds of attributes that make up successful individuals, but these seven play the most important role in defining the success trajectory of a company. While everyone might experience setbacks here and there, it’s the founders who consider the health of the entire team and modify their behavior accordingly who make history.