A great question and an area that can influence investment. My thoughts; belief in self and product, a clear vision and passion.
Belief – There are opportunities in the market that your product can fill.
Clear Vision – The concept has been researched and feedback gained.
Passion – The old clichés still ring true. If you do not believe in your concept, then why should others? People DO still buy people and this aspect holds much influence.
Best quote for any founder, “What are you prepared to do?”
There is no life without risk so ignore the naysayers, go for it.
Be happy – Base your success measurement on happiness and not on money and social media likes. This will ensure that you never wake up wondering what it’s all for. There is no better feeling than enjoying what you do.
Work hard – It won’t come to you without you driving this forward yourself. Be operational in every part of your business so that you understand it better than anyone else. Make sure you set a structure to your day. You don’t need to fall into the trap of getting up at 4am to be successful. Many entrepreneurs are effective between 8pm and 2am.
Give value – The best deals often materialise as a result of giving real value without a motivation. Spend the time to build that network and it will be the best investment you make.
First: being a leader rather than a boss, ability to attract and motivate talented team, lead them by example, burn long hours alongside your team, share the rewards and spoils.
Second: ability to get things done, rather than just talk about them. As Guy Kawasaki said: “ideas are easy, implementation is hard”. Lead your team by example, roll up the sleeves and get those projects and products to the finish line!
Third: persistence is key, you will fail and fall many times, no matter how well prepared and experienced you are.
You need CLARITY, on why you are doing what you’re doing – who and what it will help others to achieve. This sounds relatively straightforward, but don’t underestimate this process. It needs constantly reviewing and can take months or years to fully develop.
You need a thorough UNDERSTANDING of your customers and the market they operation in. And an ability to put yourself in their shoes – what would be truly helpful? Doing the right thing for your clients by working out what will make the biggest difference to them, rather than what you might like to sell them, means you are more likely to develop trusting, long-term relationships, with more opportunity to support them in numerous areas. Long-term client relationships are hugely rewarding.
You need a good dose of OPTIMISM to help you and your team through the ups and downs, and if that’s not naturally you, then resilience is key. You have to believe that what you do will be successful. If you have real clarity on ‘why’ and “what’ you are doing, and you believe the work you deliver will make a positive difference to your clients, then there’s no reason why you won’t succeed and enjoy what you do in the process. I love my work.
1 Belief – I remember being questioned at the outset by peers, ‘ no one else is doing this, why are you doing this … you are mad’ to which I responded – ‘ thats of course why we are doing it, otherwise known as a gap in the market. Check back 5 years later and do a sanity check then! ‘ We are in the making for 17 years!
2 Share surplus – Always keep a good number of spare shares at the outset eg 20% so when you raise finance later or want to extend shares later on, you do not need to dilute your own and it’s simpler to administer.
3 is a magic number! There are three Co-founders, which takes the strain away when there are highs and lows, and means on those occasions when there are different perspectives democracy steps in!
It all starts from having a dream and believing in a better world you can create through your business. This will support you all the way to the top and even at times you think you lost everything your dream will be guiding you as a North star.
Then, leadership is important and by leadership I mean envisioning the future and how your business can positively contribute to the future. The main role of the leader is to share that vision with the rest of the company, make them believe into that vision and create a willingness to follow.
Last, but not least, you should be able to say “no” – to the disadvantageous deals, to weak partners and to poor decisions your team sometimes will come to you with. This is easy when you are ready to fight for a better world and when you clearly know what the new world should look like. As if you really know you would never accept something different.
Successful founders are inquiring, their drive to find new information is inspiring in itself, they are resilient, to roll with the punches and come back fighting, and they are altruistic, putting their employees first resulting in a productive and loyal workforce.
First and foremost, strategic vision; the ability to see an opportunity before anyone else does, to articulate the vision and communicate it to the market. Secondly the ability to get things done; this includes leadership – taking people with you – and the ability to execute; make it happen not just talk about it. Persistence is a critical quality as it will be two steps forward and one step back, it will never be as easy as you think and you have to be prepared to accept and learn form setbacks. Lastly it helps to have some luck along the way!
The three qualities I would associate with successful founders are:
1. A commitment to a determined belief that what needs doing can be achieved, and a commitment to the people that come along with you for the ride – you won’t be able to do it without them.
2. Character. Be true to yourself and embrace differences in the workplace, embrace possibility and practice inclusion without judgment.
3. The ability to listen, really listen, to everyone around you. This will be colleagues, industry experts, mentors and even competitors. There is a huge value in the experience and insight that others have gleaned through the years or in different sectors; few challenges are new.
Focus on those difficult challenging tasks first, don’t pick the low hanging fruit out of laziness.
Ensure you’re being impactful in everything you do.
Use your team, delegate workloads that don’t need your full attention, but review everything where possible.
I think to stand a chance when you open a new buiness you need to be:
1) Inquisitive, open minded and a good listener (listen to people, customers, markets)
2) You need to be comfortable taking risks and living with a high level of uncertainty
3) You should get to know & hire my close friend Percy Verance. You will need him every day…
And remember, there is a good amount of luck involved. If you make it stay modest & retain your humility, if you don’t then get up and go again.
Of course there are many varied skill sets required by founders but i would say the three key qualities would be, the belief and drive to lead and inspire the team to achieve the strategic path of the business. The ability to identify the key people as cashflow will be scarce, become part of the team, trust in your employee’s, you employed them for their skill set, so listen to their knowledge and encourage input to make your product better. Finally, I would say understanding people, everyone is different and a founder needs to understand how to communicate with everyone from Sales, marketing, Tech and even the office cleaners, having a strong relationship with your team will massively benefit the success of your business.
The first thing that anybody should do, when committing to becoming a successful entrepreneur, is Personal Development. you should have mentors but you should be committed to improving not only your intelligence but most importantly your emotional intelligence.
Secondly, many businesses fail and collapse due to CEO’s being a boss role rather than a leader, as Jamie Dimon from JPM says, “the best way to see how well your company is doing is from the standpoint of your clients and customers.” you need to put down the ego and be in the trenches! a bin needs emptying, empty the bin yourself. show your workers and team you are as equal as them. YOU need to learn how to be a LEADER, Lead effectively and you will get results!
Thirdly, LESSONS not LOSSES! I have had a few startups and invested into creating businesses that failed, but here’s the thing, I didn’t have losses, I just learnt so many ways in how not to run, or start-up, or create a business. lessons, not losses. once you are not attached to failure, fear of failure and taking a loss (money is just tokens) you will excel in your career
Successful founders in my experience have three qualities in common:
1) They develop great people around them who are experts in their own skill-set. Allowing people to find their sweet spot allows you as the founder to work on your own.
2) They spend time working ‘on’ the business and not in it. It’s always a fine line and sometimes it takes self-awareness – but if you have the right people you can allow them to get on and do the job.
3) Finally they need to understand the importance of passion burnout. As founders of a business, passion is what drives them. However, it can also pull apart the business and many start-ups fail due to founder burnout. Don’t allow yourself that risk. Take care of you. If you aren’t well, it may ultimately risk the very thing which drives you.
Empathy: Never have people been so ‘connected’ and yet so disconnected. Authentic leadership comes when we genuinely put ourselves in the shoes of our employees, partners, clients and community.
Meraki: It’s a Greek word without a direct English translation, but roughly: one-part purpose, one-part passion, with a healthy sprinkling of grit. Without a clear purpose, and delivering on that purpose relentlessly, we are leading for ego, not for meaning.
Wonder: We’re experiencing unprecedented disruption. Wonder – a combination of curiosity and awe – allows us to see possibilities where others may only see chaos. An added bonus? It makes us healthier and more generous too.
I would say most successful Founders I know are not perfectionists, they’re quick to adapt and they’re highly resilient.
By not being a perfectionist, I mean they are decisive in taking their ideas to market and getting market feedback (and ideally sales) as quickly as possible. They do not allow the fact that their website / product / offering is not as perfect as they’d ideally want it to be to delay them getting out to the market.
They’re also quick to adapt. Most business owners I know had an original idea for their business – and then once they were out in the market found they had to pivot the business to serve a genuinely viable market. So being adaptable is key.
Last but not least, they’re highly resilient. You’ll often have detractors telling you your idea will not work – and market setbacks that could derail you. Successful Founders are often those who’ve stayed the course and remained resilient in the face of such adversity and negativity.
The three qualities I associate with a successful leader are:
1. A good communicator. Someone who keeps their team up to speed, supported and driven. Especially with the current Covid19 crisis – no leader has all the answers as no one has ever lived through something like this before but having the opportunity to speak to your team to keep them motivated and to continue the culture of the company is rife.
2. A storyteller. This may be one that is more needed within a marketing leader vs other disciplines but the leaders I look up to, have worked for and aspire to allow people to come on the journey with them, they excite you and to feel empowered to do your best for their narrative and goals for the business.
3. Someone who grows people. Numbers and bottom lines are great, but you can only do that well, if you grow and develop those around you. Hire people better than you. Support people with their weaknesses in a way that inspires vs patronises. You are only ever as good as the people you have in your team.
High Quality of Mind, High Quality of Mind and High Quality of Mind!! Ok, whereas I think that is THE key quality for any leader. I’ll be less biased and more specific. Three qualities that sit underneath that are Clarity connection and creativity.
Every successful founder I’ve come into contact with are change embracers. Our current climate illustrates how fast the world can change and as entrepreneurs we have to embrace this and be constantly looking for the new; be that software, process or products.
Risk takers goes without saying as stepping out on your own into the world of business is definitely not for the faint-hearted.
It depends on how you define success, but those I believe to be successful are those who are people-focussed and prioritise people above profit. Treat your team right and they will invest in the business’s success.
Can this founder attract and retain great talent? This is a learned skill. It’s got to be the single greatest indicator for success. I like smart people with even smarter friends.
How well rounded is this founder? Founders are exposed to a plethora of new fields – business, legal, technological, psychological – and need to be able to learn and grow. I like opinionated people who already read widely and converse on more than their jobs.
How much grit does this person have? One thing for certain, things go wrong. I like people with some pain in their back story!
1. The ability & commitment to develop deep domain knowledge.
If you’re going to truly disrupt something, understanding the ‘How and Why’ of the current landscape is crucial.
You know there will be ups and downs, but you’ve no idea the extent until you’re buried deep in it. Find ways to continually work on your personal resilience as you go, or you WILL fall.
You need to sell, to raise money, to ask questions, to drive passion, to hire people, to collaborate. You’ll need to win over both hearts and minds – often in parallel. Take a ton of feedback and find your communication weaknesses. Work on them.
You need to be focus, focus, focus. You have to take actions, ALWAYS, and you have to constantly be selling and pitching! Of course, you are only able to do so if you are driven by passion! Hard work always pays back!
Persistence & consistency: Most founders experience failure and hurdles at some point in their journey — but the successful ones are those who bounce back and keep moving forward.
Humility & willingness to learn: Never assume you’ve got all the answers. It’s so important to continue to expand upon your knowledge, listen to other people’s ideas and take on new ideas and ways of working — no matter how successful you become!
A balanced lifestyle: We’ve all read the stories about entrepreneurs who work 16 hours a day and don’t take a day off for months on end. But I personally believe that balance is key to success. Working hard is necessary, but so is rest. I’ve learnt from experience that spending time away from work to refresh will only amplify results and allow me to work more efficiently and productively.
REALISM – Understand your strengths and weakneses, surround yourself with people that compliment your skills (and are more intelligent than you!) – you don’t have the time to do everything and releasing some control, while difficult for all founders, is critical for a business to run efficently and succussfully.
ADAPTABILITY – I’ve lost count of the number of business that start down one route and end up with a successful business doing something completely different. Persevere with you vision, but don’t be blinkered or closed off to the reality of the market or to other adaptions of your original plan/opportunities that present themself.
PATIENCE – We all want overnight success, it rarely happens. Be patient.
Spend as much time as you can with the front line, to truly understand what they have to endure in their attempt to deliver your service, and what gets in their way. Importantly understand how much failure demand they have to deal with to understand the root cause of the failure (it won’t be them), in order that you can help turn the failure off.
Relentlessly focus on your systems, not the people who have to endure them. 95% of all of your problems will be because your systems are not fit to deliver what your customers really want.
Understand what matters to your customers, and ensure you can measure how well you are achieving it, from their external perspective, not your own internal perspective.
1. Determination – The single most important quality an entrepreneur can have. You’ll win, you’ll lose, you’ll get knocked down. But you’ll always maintain that stubborn belief in yourself, your business, your idea and your team.
Whilst you will always hit bumps in the road, successful founders will persevere, have high levels of patience and optimism and will always find a way.
2. The ability to attract, develop and lead a team – Having a great business idea or early traction and success means nothing if you can’t inspire people to want to be on that journey with you. The ability to attract and hire great people, is the cornerstone of any successful founder or business. Once you’ve convinced them to join you, a successful founder will lead, inspire and evolve their teams as a collective and as individuals. Being a founder can be a lonely and thankless task at times, having a team that you can empower to support you and enable growth and scale, is one of the most essential ingredients to a founders success.
3. Vision – Every successful founder has a clear vision of where they are going and what they are trying to achieve. Without this clarity you can’t focus your efforts, your determination or your team. Creating clear milestones to measure your success is critical. The vision needs to identify where you’re going, how you’ll get there and what success looks like for you, your team and for the business. Whilst there will be times when you deviate from the plan or even pivot, there always needs to be a clear mission and road map to achieve success.
A dogged determination to be successful and to evolve the product mix with the market, as no point trying to sell something that nobody wants anymore, but, realizing that doing this may take you away from your initial dream.
To also find the the best team and really try to manage yourself as the founder out of the business so it can sustain itself without you on a daily basis, this will take time, but letting “go” from the daily operational and “hands-on” allows more time for strategy and creative thinking.
Finally, speaking to people, a lot. Colleagues, suppliers, customers – only by lots of dialogue will you truly understand what people truly want. Technology is great, but, far better to meet folk and talk stuff through as opposed to sending an email.
Humility. Understand that it’s human to need support. You need a good co-founder or network (like Vistage) to balance your strengths, to pick you up when you’re down, to celebrate the victories. Your team will make mistakes, and so will you. Learn, adapt, move forward.
Vision, grounded in reality. Dream big and look to the future, but keep a close eye on the present. Listen to your customers, who are the foundation of everything you do, and remember that cashflow is king.
Guts and perseverance. Setting up and then running a new venture is scary, exciting, fun, soul-destroying, reaffirming, liberating… you’ll need emotional strength by the bucketload and more courage than you think.
VISION, FOCUS and RESILIENCE are the 3 qualities i would say rank upmost for successful founders. You must possess at least a vague idea of a new reality and be able to share it with the dozens of others whom you will need to make it real, in whatever capacity that may be along the way – you will never do it alone! Focus is required because founders are the type of people who are open to lots of ideas, but ideas are just that unless they can be implemented; take advice and adapt, but do not get distracted in moving to make your vision real. Finally, you will need resilience. The ability to get up when you get knocked back – because you will get knocked back, again and again, at every stage from concept through to exit and everything in between, not least building sales.
If you believe in your product or service have a never say die attitude. Make it happen.
When things are not going your way, have the tunnel vision to push through, especially in the early days of the business – Bounce back ability.
Set and keep to five year plans
To be successful, company founders need to split their time, energy and focus appropriately between internal and external demands. They will need to demonstrate many qualities including:
Vision and passion – Continuous communication of the founder’s vision, to both clients and staff, is essential to bring everyone together. The company founder will need to demonstrate passion and self-belief to get through the tough times and to encourage everyone to follow on the journey.
Reliance – Both clients and team members will need to know they can rely upon the company founder. All stakeholders will need to have the confidence and comfort that the company founder has a strong moral compass and will deliver upon all promises made.
Inspiring others to achieve their full potential – Developing a fantastic team is an early challenge for a young company leader. Like clients, they will all have different needs. Demonstrating an understanding of these needs and offering a clear route to achieving personal goals, whilst following a clear corporate strategy, is fundamentally important to keep the team moving forward together.
Show up and do the work, you don’t get results from wishful thinking. Finding the right solution takes action, even if it turns out not to be the right course at the time. There’s value in failure, so don’t be discouraged if things don’t work out. At least you’ve discovered one more way it doesn’t work.
Accept you can’t do it alone. Build a great team. They should be as excited about your vision as you are because they’re the ones who make it a reality. Once you’ve got the right people, build a culture that keeps them. The best employees need more than gimmicks, like pool tables or pizza. Give them the opportunity to learn and grow with the business. Afford them the freedom to do what they do best.
Accept that the buck stops with you. Some decisions are difficult, you’ll have to make them even if they’re not popular. Be open, honest and accountable. It’s the least you’d expect from your team. You have to be held to the same high standards, if not higher.
1 – The mental strength to deal with constant setbacks and the capacity to deal with the enormous stress that comes with running a growing business
2 – The courage to change course on a strategy or idea, even if you have been entrenched on a different course of action for some time
3 – Having no ego – being able to hire people who are more talented than you, and mould them into superstars
Knowledge of your discipline – use your passion, drive, energy and the best technology you can to demonstrate a consistent and authentic personal, employer and business brand relevant to your customers.
Flexibility – embrace change and opportunity, know your market and adapt quickly to both internal and external factors impacting your sector.
Surround yourself with great people – both those you employ and those your business partners with, to deliver a cohesive vision. Enjoy what you do.
Trust your gut instinct, it’s more reliable than you think as you know all the moving parts of your business and what you are capable of.
Refrain from getting wrapped up in business bull shit. So many people are “experts”, but they are mainly experts at talking BS and building their own hype. For advice listen to people who have done it and still do it or just listen to your gut.
Have a vision – Know where you are trying to get to (I didn’t have a vision past year 2), but if you don’t have a clear vision past a couple of years, that’s OK, it will come.
When I set up my business I was an idealist and sticking by my ideals has served me well. You need a huge amount of resilience to get going, and to keep going, and can never let that slip – the unswerving will to dig deeper when times are tough is critical. Additionally you need to be able to understand where you stand, and where the market is going, and to apply and adapt your strategies to suit – they change!
I believe that the key qualities associated with being a successful founder are:
Motivation – Everyone has the same 24 hours a day. It’s what you do with those 24 hours which really matters. You can choose to watch 3 hours of TV. Or you can choose to work on your project and make something incredible happen. You might have to make sacrifices at the start, but it’s worth it when you reach the end goal.
Determination – If you don’t ask for something, you won’t get it. You’ll be surprised at how many people say ‘yes’ to your requests!
Set Goals – Simply wanting your business to grow isn’t enough. Instead, you need to set goals that are both tangible and realistic. Do this by setting goals per quarter and yearly and see how it accelerates your success forward.
Do quality work, customers who love your work will be your best sales team. So do what it takes to make them understand you care about their problem and you are here to help them solve it.
Make sure everyone on the team understands the vision and buys in. It can be easy to get sidetracked by work and deadlines but your team is human, and in a start-up when they are buying into the vision they are also buying into you, your relationships with them (both personal and professional) as well as your example. We are all in it together, not just on paper but in real life. Make sure you communicate that every day.
Fail, learn and forgive. It can be hard. You will make mistakes and so will your team. Handling failure well is key to any level of success. The important thing is to have a system that helps you learn from mistakes. We do retrospectives for our software projects and we also do them for client engagements, employee engagements and so on. This lets us view failure with less negativity and more as a building experience for the entire organisation.
Perception – the perception to see an opportunity
People – surround yourself with the right people to maintain opportunity and flourish
Tenacity – focused energy, having a clear and definite purpose, and not losing sight
Know your strengths and weaknesses – vital if you have a business partner. Divide the workload accordingly. This leads to a harmonious and strong relationship and your employees will feel confident and supported.
Consciously learn from your mistakes. Do not make excuses if you are in the wrong (not necessarily always the case) and always take a nugget of wisdom away with you from each negative situation to turn it into a positive learning experience. You will do better next time.
Never make assumptions. Always ask relevant questions and look for potential gaps and pitfalls before embarking on any client project.
1. Be enthusiastic about what you do. Enthusiasm rubs off on the people you work with and the people you want to do business with.
2. Be yourself and be different. I’ve created a studio culture and identity around my own values and beliefs. Don’t fall into the design/media cliche in how to portray yourself. Working in a field just outside of Bath, and naming the company after my favourite Clash song, hasn’t done me any harm. There’s no need to follow the others – be different..
3. Play the role of the client. I always put myself in the shoes of a client when working on our projects, continually challenging us as an agency before the client sees the end result. Clients are so important, so try and become one in your day to day thinking.
Hard work, determination and belief in what you’re trying to achieve. You can’t expect people to want to buy your product if you aren’t confident in it yourself. Believing that you’re the best in the market is crucial and of course, putting in the hard work to ensure you are is too. You have to be willing to put in the hard work, not just in the early stages, but as the business grows too. Never rest on your laurels.
The most important quality in a successful founder is their ability to see things from the customer’s perspective. When you truly understand your customer, you will know where to look for them, how to approach them, how to treat them, etc. Never again will you make a change to your business and face anger because all your changes will have the customer in mind. The second biggest quality is self-motivation for obvious reasons. So many businesses start out of necessity, then never grow above a certain point as the founder just doesn’t have the “umph” to kick it up a notch. If you’re not truly interested in what the business does, then don’t start it, start one that you really enjoy and you’ll be more likely to put that little bit extra in. Finally I would say; willing to work the hours. This is not always a popular bit of advice as many retired entrepreneurs say they “wasted their 20s/30s” working long hours, but in my opinion it is the key to success. Still delegate as much as you can and hire freelancers, etc to do lower skilled tasks where possible, but if you’re reasonably successful in 35 hours a week, imagine what you could do in 50 hours… That’s the equivalent of 22 extra work weeks in a year! Family is important, so make sure you clock off and enjoy that time, but a few years of “hard grind” can give you a much more stable business that allows for more flexibility in your personal life moving forward.
Vision – you need a espouse a vision that your employees, your customers and investors can buy into and feel as passionate about as you do
Flexibility – things will never go to plan so the ability to adapt rapidly is critical
Building great teams – the sooner you build a great (ideally diverse) team, and learn to delegate to them, the faster you will go
A business founder starts an enterprise because they are good at something or have a good idea. The business takes root when the founder has the discipline to be good at a lot of other things (which are usually boring) – web design decisions, logistics decisions, debt collection, VAT returns. A business really takes off when the founder learns to let go of all the boring things to others and returns to their first love.
1) Work harder – everyone has ideas, you’ll always beat the smarter person by putting in the hours.
2) Turn away clients if they aren’t right. I know it hurts as winning clients is so hard. But if they aren’t right, don’t waste your energy and resource on working with the wrong clients.
3) Charge much more than you are comfortable with. Then work out how to add the value to make it worth the value you are charging.
Passion – You need to be able to get up every day with fire in your belly and a vision you connect to. It will be the bedrock of your resilience during tough times. Avoid doing anything that isn’t contributing to your passion, over time this will affect your ability to realise your vision as well as your mental and physical health.
Apply 80/20 thinking – Time is your real wealth. The 80/20 rule says that 80% of the effects and results come from 20% of the effort and resources: that can be tasks, customers, people, team, revenue. Identifying what 20% of your time and attention deliver 80% early on will pay massive dividends.
Find a mentor – Probably the most important. We need to continually learn from teachers. I really thought I knew best when I started my first business and it took me too long to figure out how wrong I was. Find someone in your industry who has achieved what you consider success, read up what they do that you don’t and emulate their behaviour, habits and leadership. You’d be surprised how much you can learn about people online. You could even reach out to them for advice, but make sure you offer something if value to them first. You may even offer to intern for them – and apply it to your future business. Books are also great mentor’s and you should build your own library. As you get some income , reinvest in your entrepreneur education whether that is paid for by time or money. “Stand on the shoulders of giants”
1) In today’s business world people value honesty and integrity. The number one decision clincher is almost always trust.
2) Look for models with recuuring revenues. One off sales strategies mean each month starts all over again. Subscription strategies mean each month is about building on the last.
3) Never underestimate the power of women. I have been told by close friends “when did you last meet a good woman programmer”. We are an AI tech company with a pretty even split. We have awesome female programmers and healthly office environment with a staff turnover of less than 2%
I think overall being a business owner the number one thing that I would pass on is that you need to be level headed, there will be highs and lows and being able to not get overly excited when things go well but not too down when things don’t go to plan is really important.
1. Enthusiasm – the ability to get anyone excited about anything!
2. Tenacity – to keep going even when it gets really, really, really tough!
3. Unflappability – the ability to remain balanced, play the long game, see the bigger vision whilst managing working through what’s in front of you.
In an ever changing and digitally connected world, the workplace is changing massively. Our mindsets are moving to a more online and remote process to a point where people don’t mind working outside the traditional 9-5. Many of my writers are remote who work across multiple time zones. Flexibility and transparency are two very important factors.
You’ve got to be prepared for unrelenting responsibility; even if your body goes on holiday, your head doesn’t. Do a proper job – if you make yourself indispensible to your customers, they will be more concerned about losing you than you need be about losing them. Remember your staff are somebody’s children, so look after them nicely; nobody ever died wishing they’d spent more time at the office but they should expect to enjoy coming to work. Merry Christmas
To be a successful founder in my opinion you most likely would have had to have previously been knocked down and failed. The experience you learn on your journey is your physical, mental and emotional education. Passion is key you have to love what you do, whatever that may be as life is a precious gift every day counts. To be a successful founder you cannot make it alone, you need a rock solid team in place to drive your business plan to success!
1. Successful entrepreneurs have a vision of how they believe, they could impact other people’s life’s by providing a service or creating a product.
2. They are brave enough to start pursuing that vision irrelevant of the odds of success or amount of (or lack of) support received from their environment.
3. They persevere until they accomplish the task. Founders make it their life mission to deliver they product/service to the society in need, sometimes for over decade not receiving personal financial rewards ( even the most successful companies in the world).
4. They take care of people around them. No matter how successful, you’ll never be fulfilled on your own.
1. Follow your “North Star.”
When I founded the agency way back in 1999, I had a real passion for the business, was an expert in my field, and knew it would be profitable. Those three pillars still form Hallam’s North Star – our guiding vision. As a successful founder you will start the business with your core values, and will stay true to them as the business grows.
2. Pay it forward. Passing on good deeds spreads positivity.
I believe in the benefits of actions such as writing thank-you notes and lending your team a hand when the going gets tough. The agency also nominates a charity to support each year. Our current one is Nottingham Samaritans, for which we’ve raised £20,000.
3. Focus on your people and success will follow.
Our leadership team works hard on building a culture that we call “the greatest place to work”. Our secret to finding great people for our company and retaining their loyalty is all about that “Team Hallam” culture. The kinds of experts we want to recruit have to want to join our organisation and they have to fit in culturally.
Genuine clarity on what the end goal is – especially if the end goal is simply a huge bank account. Society at the moment promotes the idea that building businesses with purely a financial goal is wrong or not to be admired; you must be solving a vital problem in order to be successful and accepted.
I know a number of founders who built their businesses with the sole objective of amassing personal wealth.
After achieving great personal wealth and financial freedom many of them now spend a lot of time on philanthropic endeavours, which is great.
But they started off not wanting to change the world, just wanting to be filthy rich.
Honesty about your objectives. Resilience to not give a shit what other people say. Drive to get it done.
Founders must make good decisions relating to all aspects of the business. Before you spend on expensive staff or contractors, teach yourself just enough to be able to spot a genuine talent from a chancer. This applies is any skills that your founding team lack – such as digital marketing, project management, accounting – but the most important of all is often overlooked: recruitment.
You wouldn’t dream of handing over your house keys over to a babysitter without first knowing something about this person – and your newborn business should be treated no differently. You need to invest time into learning the basics of any of the skills that you lack so that when you are recruiting people to take over the reins, you can ask the right questions to distinguish those who can drive BIG changes to your operations from those who just use BIG words. Grill them on their strategies, use technical terms and set them one challenge that any ‘expert’ should have no difficulty answering. If they say they’ll need to come back to you, it’s game over. Don’t risk wasting your precious time or money.
They are honest, frank and assertive.
You aren’t an employee – you are the voice of your brand. Speak your mind and people will respect you more for it. Never shy away from speaking with anyone in business, most especially your own employees, but also potential strategic partners who could drive your business forward. I’ve always found people are keen to help, no matter how impressive they may seem.
‘Assertive’ is the sweet spot to aim for because it’s the midpoint between the two extremes: passive and aggressive. Passive-aggressive is worst of both; you’re not communicating your thoughts but are still being an ass ????. Assertiveness is the cool response that cuts to the point, and eliminates the emotive. If I’m ever in doubt about the right tone to use, I imagine that I’m a barrister in front of a high court judge. I need to argue firmly, whilst focusing only on the facts and evidence.
They flush out toxic people.
Use Tim Ferris’ 80:20 Rule (80% of your time is spent on just 20% of your customers) to flush out bad clients, contractors, business partners or employees – anyone that takes up disproportionate amounts of your time and/or energy. You are the most valuable cog in your business so your time needs to be focused on adding value and creating opportunities. Likewise, if you remove a bad egg from your team, the productivity of the rest of the team jumps up. You need a team behind you that drives positivity, creativity and opportunity. There will always be someone else out there who you can work with who has the same skills, but a better attitude. The 80:20 Rule simply forces you to find them faster.
Successful founders are creative thinkers with a vision to change the world through product or service. They tend to have a 10-year plan and able to convince others to see, share and invest in their vision.
As a founder, there will be hundreds of things to do every day. Successful founders avoid distractions and tend to focus on things that matter.
They don’t give up easily. Successful founders understand that success is a process, and the only way to reach the goal is by taking small steps. Small battles win the war.
Sniffer dog business acumen – ability to pick up and develop new revenue streams by listening to client requirements and industry trends and creating a product portfolio that has a domino effect ie one product sits seamlessly with the other, which allows a prospective client to select a ‘package’ as opposed to just one isolated service or product which is less revenue for the company
Backbone & resilience – you have to take the rough with the smooth whilst maintaining a smile and a positive outlook and never being afraid of change, there is always a solution / never a problem…
Fast thinkers, fast doers & money makers – we make things happen, we can bring an idea to fruition and fast… maximum efficiency, minimum waste… profit is sanity and revenue is vanity
Resilience, empathy, and patient urgency. These are the three qualities I associate with successful founders. I am especially concerned about how enabling these elements can support female founders from the global south on their successes and failures.
Firstly, the entrepreneurial journey is neither easy nor straightforward; you might wish to resist. It takes time and effort.
Secondly, being empathetic helps you find the right support with each challenge. It also helps you to better understand how you could deploy your development ideas efficiently. All based on an action-reflection-action process.
And, finally, if you agree that societal justice is important, you might wish to keep a patient urgent approach. Thinking strategically considering Recognition, Distribution and Representation as a method – and aim with the most vulnerable groups.
1. Ability and self-belief to continue with your goal/dream even if people doubt you or tell you not too. (So make sure you surround yourself with positive people).
2. Confidence in running against the tide to avoid being the same as everyone else. It’s so easy to follow the pack, but successful founders make their own decisions, which are usually different from everyone else!
3. You can’t give 3 tips without including HARD WORK*. Nothing really worth having comes easily so you have to work at it.
*A few quotes that keep me on track are
‘Founders work 80 hrs work, so one day they don’t have to work 40 hours per week
‘People often spend more effort avoiding a task, than often just getting on and do it – Entrepreneurs are doers !’
‘Do I want to be Mr & Mrs Average?’ (if you have read this story you will know what I mean)
Founders are a special species in themselves. There is a huge difference between founding a company and being a successful founder. The difference is the individual’s attitude and conviction.
It’s all very well having an idea and deciding to set up your business, but if your attitude towards your new business isn’t right then very often it will fail.
My top three qualities are simply:
1. A balanced way of working – positive energy, focus together with a humble approach to business seems to always come out on top!
2. An ability to set and manage expectations for yourself, your business and your team in a way that engages, motivates and commits everyone to the cause.
3. Conviction in your ideas and plans – if you don’t believe how can you expect anyone else to!
The humility to build a team that is more capable than yourself
Understand that success comes through doing – you either win or learn (know what to amplify & what to change)
Patience and resilience – you have to put in before you can take out!
It’s important businesses are able to build value for their customers in the most manual way possible. If it works manually then you can scale it with tech later.
In my experience, the best founders and leaders should be able to take risks, be curious, challenge and make mistakes. If you are not making mistakes then you are not trying hard enough. However, leaders should also be right more often than not. You can’t just make mistakes. It is a balance!
The key is to build a team of talented people that work well together. It is not enough to just employ talented people.
I’ve worked with a lot of entrepreneurs over the years and to me, the three qualities that make the best ones stand out are very clear.
1) Decisiveness – Great entrepreneurs don’t dilly dally. That doesn’t mean they are rash or reckless, far from it, it just means they would rather get on with something than do nothing.
2) Resilience – Great entrepreneurs do not give up at the first hurdle. Colonel Sanders, in his 70’s, visited over 1,000 restaurants before one of them eventually took his chicken recipe. He had grit.
3) They look after themselves – if you put too much in and don’t think about your own energy, you will likely come up short or even crash and burn. Without self-care, you’ll potentially make bad decisions, mistakes and maybe even upset your team and customers.
Both personally and as a business, we have seen the work and mindsets necessary to conceptualise, accelerate and scale businesses across every sector. The common trends that remain prevalent in every success story are that of determination, common values and lessons learnt.
The most valuable trait to leave behind is your ego and take a lesson from every outcome as every lesson learnt is a positive step forward.
Resilience is key. Knockbacks are part of the job and it’s a rollercoaster of a journey and you need to maintain some sort of perspective. Celebrate the small successes as you go and learn from what success rather than failure.
Building a strong mentoring structure around you is key. Identify people that you admire that have been through what you are trying to do. Most people are happy to share their advice and won’t always charge for it. Most of the challenges you face have been faced and overcome before!
Sounds easy but having a passion that can give you a mental break is key. If you don’t have young children who are the biggest distraction of all, then you need to find a release, whether its yoga, running, sewing – find something that works for you – you will need it.
1) Devote yourself to the business.
If you’re a founder, you need to throw yourself at the business to make it a success. 9-5 doesn’t apply to you, not yet anyway.
You need to be willing to do whatever it takes to build the momentum the business needs to get going. Push yourself further to win work than your competitors will and do whatever you can to standout in competitive situations.
2) Value your service and product quality above everything else.
Don’t cut corners and short change your customers. Build a reputation for quality and high standards and word of mouth will attract more new business.
3) Genuinely care about your people.
You’re only as good as the talent you employ. Genuinely care about their needs and build a business that allows them to grow. Push your employees to develop themselves. That will keep them motivated and allow you to grow your business with a strong backbone of enthused, empowered people.
As leading the most diverse charity in UK with 500+ volunteers from all walks and faiths, I would like to share 3 things today, Firstly, there is Arabic Word ‘Alhamdulliah’ It has powerful meaning which states- Appreciate that You are blessed today right now with everything you have’ So we need to always appreciate what we have today – family, friends, job, money, food etc 2. What we Eat is what we feed – We need to make sure the food we are willing to eat our self need to be given to others. even with clothes, wash it – pack it nicely and give to someone less fortunate but this will make the sender and receive feel good and elevate on the same level. 3. Prevention is always better than cure – Learning the problems of homelessness- we should be able to identify the symptoms and catch people before they become homeless. That is only way we can beat this. Hope this will provide insight to my learning from this amazing charity, ( please feel free to correct any spelling, grammar, edit, modify as you see fit)
UNDERSTAND YOUR JOURNEY. So many businesses are started without any idea of where they might go in the long term. If you don’t know your destination, how can you ensure you are on the right road to get you there?
UNDERSTAND YOUR NUMBERS. Ensure you always have a thorough understanding of all the key numbers in your business. Constantly monitor them and challenge them. Have someone with the responsibility to provide them, always, on time and accurately.
UNDERSTAND YOUR CASHFLOW. They say Cash is King … they are right. In the end it is only a lack of cash that kills you. It is the very lifeblood of any business, look after it, nurture it, and love it. Constant very detailed cash management is key to business success.
Founders, in my experience, started as frustrated people. Frustrated at the ‘lack of something’ in their industry – lack of innovation, progress, technological advances, skilled people… They take that frustration and turn it into determination. Determination to drive change, underpinned by a genuine belief that they can find a better way, and the unwavering motivation to make it all happen; these are qualities that I see in droves in all of the successful founders I have known on my journey.
Passion – no-one else will buy in to your idea if you don’t show belief.
Resilience – it is never going to be easy, otherwise everyone would do it
Wit – it helps provide perspective and no-one wants to work for a complete a**e
Unfortunately, most of the qualities have been stated in one form or another but
The startup journey is normally longer than most people imagine and likely more perilous. You will be knocked down more times than you think and it takes grit to keep on getting back up.
2. Strong opinions, weakly held
Indecision costs both money and time but you often lack data to inform your direction of travel. How to balance this? Be committed but validate along the way.
As above you will be wrong. If you are never wrong, you are not experimenting enough. Accept that the market and others will know more than you.
Never give-up, but know when to stop. As a founding entrepreneur you are quite likely to start more than one business in your time. Passion and drive will ultimately make you a success, but keeping a check on reality will help you know when it’s best to change direction or stop what you’re doing and look for the next opportunity.
Your reputation is everything. Under promise; over deliver; don’t miss deadlines. If you do this you’ll keep more clients for longer and get more referrals which helps you grow in a strong market and keeps you in business in a downturn.
Stay engaged. Speak with people – a lot! Staff, clients, competitors, social gatherings, networking events. Listening to what’s on people’s minds or what they are doing keeps you one step ahead of the game to help keep your best people, anticipate change in your industry and find new opportunities or tie-ups for your business.
1) POSITIVE – To be able to focus on making something markedly better for people. The best founders have a mission to improve things and make a truly positive impact on the world using a tribe of likeminded people.
2) NURTURING – To see the best in others and to build their value. This enables them to rise to their potential. Trust them to do so.
3) CONSISTENT – Live and breath your core values, and to keep in the chase through the ups and downs. Be there when needed, but trust others and create clarity of purpose. This way your team will operate consistently at all times.
The three qualities I associate with successful entrepreneurs are:
1) You must be PASSIONATE about your subject. When you are passionate about your subject you create an incredible energy to move forward with your goal.
2) You must have a POSITIVE ATTITUDE and POSITIVE MINDSET. These are the most important ingredients to succeed.
3) You must be very CLEAR about what you want to achieve. When you know what you want, you will be able to share your vision with people around you, and build a successful business.
The most important quality I would associate with successful founders is having the correct mindset.
At its core is a mantra of “Passionate ideas loosely held”. It is this dual, seemingly conflicting, mindset that successful founders need to cultivate. Our passion, boarding on obsession, for our idea, our team, our business… “our baby”.
Without genuine passion our chances of success are slim to none. Yet, at the same time, we must not be too protective or hold on too tightly to our idea. Be open to change and be open to being wrong. Combine passion with being genuinely skeptical and self-challenging.
1. Tenacious: They don’t take no for an answer, they keep going, they don’t care about rejection, they are resilient, they are persistent.
2. Hustler: When they need to pick it up they do, when they are focused they are unstoppable. They go for it and they find connections and they create opportunity.
3. Influential: You can sell belief to your staff and your ideas to your clients.
1. TIMING, now is always the right time, I put off for many years starting my business and now wish I had done it years ago. If you have the confidence in yourself and the service/ product then there is no better time to start than now.
2. PERSIST, when you start you are not your customers priority. Just because they may not respond immediately does not mean they are not interested. Keep going and never give up.
3. BE CLEAR, make sure you can articulate how your service/product benefits your customers. What problem do you solve. Be prepared to listen carefully to your market/customers pain points and deliver how you solve them.
1. Perseverance – all of the founders that I know have been hard at it for years. Whether it is the ultimate successful unicorn or a more mundane, but equally valuable , enterprise. The drive and hunger that drives us forward is essential.
2. Learning – the ability to adapt and change when required
3. People skills – the ability to get people; clients, collaborators or investors to buy into your vision and the ability to bring them with you is essential. Not everybody responds to the same style so emotional quotient is essential
Hmm…….. I believe that focus, determination and kindness are important traits that I would associate with entrepreneurial success. Let me explain.
Focus: speaking personally, I never once doubled that I could, and should, establish my own business. I also never once entertained the possibility that I wouldn’t succeed. This is not due to arrogance, but simply to do with the fact that I was penniless and that failure was therefore not an option. When there is no choice, it clears the mind, removes doubt and gives clarity, and with clarity comes optimism and belief. This energy can be felt by prospective clients and can’t be faked.
Determination: Nothing at all could have thrown me off course. Literally. Nothing. My mantra was very simple and I adhere to this even today in everything that I do. Put simply “what’s the worst that can happen ?”. Telling myself this always takes the fear out of doing anything and clears the way to taking action. It’s amazing how little support can be garnered from banks, friends and relations, and how much we all fear failure, but this fear holds us back, so having an easy mantra to repeat just simplifies everything and makes taking decisions, a lot easier.
Finally kindness: As a female business owner I wanted to do thing differently to traditional recruitment agencies and feel that kindness has a genuine place in any business. This extends to clients by not “ chasing money “ all the time; having a no-blame culture which means that mistakes are not covered up; transparency for my staff so that they feel they are part of something that does good; candidates, where they may simply need a little advice and direction; and to myself in taking the occasional holiday and booking an occasional massage! Kindness does have a way of trickling down in a business setting and has some wonderful side-effects, including reputational, retention and as a tool to attract new staff.
There are lots of other attributes that contribute to success, but for me, I would say that these are the 3 that resonate best. I hope it helps.
1. Commitment – There are few easy wins out there and there is no substitute for hard work and commitment to the cause.
2. Creativity – Don’t be afraid to disrupt. Just make sure it’s better than the previous incarnation.
3. Exceptional people management skills – Your business is only as good as the people you employ. Invest time in them and they will invest time in you.
1. Passion: if you are purely in it for the money or some kind of fame, it shows
2. Integrity: If you say you are going to do something, do it. This rule applies whether you make a promise to a client, employee or a contractor. Your word is your bond in my opinion, not a contract (though unfortunately not everyone is a fan of rule number two, so it helps to have everything written down too!)
3. Being humble: never assume you know it all, always be willing to learn no matter who is giving the lesson, always admit when you are wrong
Its always good to set your own high standards and rules from day 1. Here are three things that looking back, I wish id had understood the value of better.
1/ Be obsessed about doing one main thing better than anyone else
2/ Surround yourself with positive people and align with those that give you true inspiration. Always keep learning.
3/ Recruit the best people that you can to work alongside you. Better to have one reliable superstar working with you than two lower-cost plodders.
I’m quite a practical person so I’ve gone for a set of quite pragmatic qualities that have helped me over the years.
1) Having a plan (and reminding yourself of it periodically). Whether this is a 1-, 3- or even 10- year plan, it’s so important to know where you want to be in the future. Things take time to implement in business and if you have a goal there’s a better chance that everything you do will be contributing towards it. If you don’t have a plan, your efforts will be scattered all over the place and may even be working against you.
Put it in writing too. A phrase one of my trusted advisors often says is: a plan in your head is better than no plan, but a plan written down is best. The plan need not be set in stone. Things can change quickly in business, so we regularly revisit our plan to check it still fits with our vision.
2) Knowing your target and not deviating. There are two angles with this. Firstly, I’ve generally found it useful to avoid taking on projects that would fall way outside of our core skillset. As tempting as it can be – especially if it’s an exciting client – it invariably ends up biting you on the rear. It’ll be a lot more work than you quoted for and most likely result in a dissatisfied client. Secondly, think about your target customer. There’s no point working for an unfunded start-up if you want to be working for companies with £1m+ turnover. You’ll never be able to give that start-up the attention they deserve and they’ll feel overcharged and under serviced.
3) Knowing your limits. Concentrate on what you’re good at and delegate everything else. Not just as a leader, but as a business. As a brand design agency, we’re good at the creative. We’re not so good at, say, accounting, so we outsource it to accountants. We do have a bit of a talent for marketing, so we mostly keep it in-house, but if it’s not your bag, outsource it to, for example, a design agency – sorry for the shameless plug!
Also, don’t be afraid to hire people more talented than you. When we started the company I was still a full-time designer with my finger on the creative pulse. After a few years in business, taking on many of the other day-to-day responsibilities, my design skills started missing a beat or two. Part of being a leader is to recognise your limitations and find people who do it better. Having genuine talent in our design and web development teams has taken the company even further – in terms of creativity and innovation – than I ever conceived.
Vision – Your own success is wholly dependent on being clear about what it is that you’re providing for your clients – whether they’ve realised they need it or not yet! – keeping focussed on your clients’ needs is critical to optimising effort when resources are scarce and then to remaining relevant and profitable as you grow. Get this right and your own rewards come as a natural consequence of helping everyone else benefit from the win-win.
Energy – passion and determination to succeed require single-minded physical, mental and emotional effort at the same time as keeping your eyes, ears and mind open to new opportunities and threats. A difficult balancing act needs strength and patience.
Communication – Effective leadership which will allow your team to grow to independence requires you to be able to visualise, to motivate, to attract clients, staff and suppliers through effective and inspirational communication.
Being a business founder will change your life. You will have sleepless nights and amazing highs, you will miss important dates with your friends and family but forge deep new relationships. This is not a decision to take lightly but if you are willing to make sacrifices you won’t regret the life experiences it gives you.
I could pick many qualities but three which have been particularly important to me are:
Resilience – we launched our business a year before the crash of 2008. We’d had a great first year and then everything fell off a cliff. It was only by focussing on the quality of our work, building new connections and working really hard were we able to turn things round. A sense of humour kept me sane.
Trust – you can’t build a sustainable business without surrounding yourself with great people. You can’t do everything by yourself so learn to delegate and trust your team. I’ve also found seeking out advice from mentors who have been there, done that and worn out the t-shirt is absolutely key.
Pragmatism – although having a clear vision is important, I’ve always found pragmatism even more essential. We’ve changed business direction a number of times as trends in our sector have changed or we’ve lost key members of staff – our focus is very different to what it was when we started.
Vision, persistence and honesty
Constant innovation and calculated risk taking in the secret of growing a business. Setting standards of excellence for performance and maintaining positive attitude for your members of staff no forgetting to take on board your staff ideas and give guidance and support. Give rewards when a job has been done well. It costs nothing too say well done. Encouraging words from the MD can have a huge amount to improve the moral of your staff. Do not underestimate how your demeanor and body language can effect your team in a negative way. All was try to maintain a positive stance as it is reflected back by people who work for you. Keeping up standards of performance and trying to seek improvement on a routine basis is very difficult but you must try to set high standards to follow. Try to find time to pass the time of day and ask how they are doing and have a laugh.