Young entrepreneurs have surely wondered about the traits they should have in order to be picked by the investors. Although there is no particular set of rules, and I cannot talk in the name of all investors, I believe that some traits can only help.
Here I will provide five traits that most successful entrepreneurs often have. All of these attributes were picked by the investors that backed some of the biggest names in technology startups like Uber, Pinterest, SeatGeek, and Boxed. The fact that different investors named at least a few attributes from this list show that investors tend to link certain traits with success. Many of these traits can be improved; they are not something that people are just born with.
Tenacity is probably the single most important ingredient to realizing entrepreneurial success. Think about Woody Allen’s idea that goes “80 percent of success is showing up.” ENIAC Ventures’ Nihal Mehta said he wants entrepreneurs to have the ability to break through the walls. He said that “startups have many twists and turns, ups and downs. Founders who go the distance look at each challenge and pace themselves to overcome each and every one.”
Motivation is very much related to tenacity. The question why is an entrepreneur so focused on solving one certain problem often has one answer, which is pure fortune or fame. If that is the case, various problems and frustration that will inevitably come on the way to success could very easily demoralize the entrepreneur, and make him give up. Some investors, like Vasu Kulkarni from Courtside Ventures, want the entrepreneurs who are determined to solve some personal problem. He says “I like entrepreneurs who decided to solve a pain point that affected them personally. The conviction to solve a problem is always stronger when you are passionate about it, and generally, that tends to stem from issues that you can relate to personally.”
- Clarity of thought.
A straight line between a solution and a problem demonstrates a mastery of knowledge that presents an entrepreneur as someone who understands his field of expertise, as well as an ability to communicate effectively. You must have domain knowledge, but if you don’t present it in the right way, it may leave the impression that your vision is not very, or that you are not able to execute it. “The best founders are deep students of their industry and entrepreneurship in general. They focus on understanding every single nuance. This manifests itself through clarity of thought,” said Matt Turck, FirstMark Capital.
Thinking about “what ifs” of your business is one of the important parts of being innovative. You should certainly be responsive and reactive, but it should be combined with the proactive approach to identifying problems, and after that solving them. You only need curiosity for this. Matt Hartman, Betaworks, said “we invest in people building products that are fundamentally about new consumer behaviors. In these types of products, it’s critical to be curious about how and why new behaviors emerge.”
- Confident humility.
I know this might sound like a contradiction, but investors often say that they would like to see both in the entrepreneurs they back. Investors, employees, and customers will probably all want you to have convincing steadfastness and conviction. On the other hand, you are required to be able to adjust and listen when some issue occurs. You must leave your pride before entering the business. David Frankel, Founder Collective, said he wants the founders to have the “audacity” but at the same time, he encourages them to balance between the certain degree of humility and always to be asking questions.