Have You Found the Right Career Path?


It takes a special kind of person to be a successful founder of a successful business. In this StartupGrind video, a few founders who’ve been there and done that share what they think it takes to bea great founder.

According to Startup Owners Manual’s Steve Blank, the most important thing to remember is that, “Entrepreneurship is not a job. It’s not a job. It’s a passion.” You can, of course, be passionate about your job, but that’s in an entirely different spectrum than entrepreneurship. “This is like being an artist or a composer,” says Blank, “because you’ll be living some of the world’s most miserable days.”

The odds of a founder’s day going “right”, from the early days until retirement, is slim to none. People quit, money runs out, sometimes even lawsuits happen, and “You’re the janitor as well,” says Blank. Being a founder isn’t a prestigious job by any means—even if you end up with a multi-million dollar company. “Unless you’re driven to make something happen out of nothing, you’ll go, ‘What do I need this for?’” However, to a true founder and entrepreneur, “those are just obstacles” says Blank.

Got What It Takes?

Google Venture’s Bill Marris says he’s not sure if entrepreneurs are born. “I don’t know if I was born an entrepreneur, I was born the kind of person who really wanted to control my own time.” That’s a sentiment shared by many founders. Time is the most valuable asset any person has, and nobody knows how much they have left. Some people are rich in time, others are poor, but the nature of time makes it so nobody knows where they or anyone else stands. A founder understands the value of time.

“I really didn’t enjoy reporting to someone else,” recalls Marris, “so I found ways to do my own thing.” Working for yourself is the American dream, but don’t get caught up in the “dream” aspect of it. There’s a reason so many founders of major companies seem to have humility by the bucketful (and it’s not a surplus of public speaking coaching): They plowed a tough road, and it’s stayed with them.

Mike Maples of FLOODGATE Ventures says the one thing he’s seen in every successful entrepreneur is “exponential insight”. If he were to sum up the task of a tech entrepreneur in one sentence, it would be: “How am I leveraging a current change in technology that follows Moore’s Law to create an exponential outcome?”

All the Right Stuff

For George Zachary of Charles River Ventures, a founder is someone who has a “psychological need to win.” It can’t be a want—it has to be a need. “These are the people who drive things further,” he says. “And they cannot stop working”, psychologically. Being relentless and making sure everyone around you is exhausted, including yourself, is a sign of a founder.

However, you can’t do this without one key trait: Confidence.

That’s the golden ticket according to Mark Suster of UpFront Ventures. “Confidence in a sense of purpose,” he says. However, for FLOODGATE Venture’s Ann Miura Ko, an “authenticity of the entrepreneur” is what she watches out for. She notes that especially in Silicon Valley, there’s idealism and romanticism around entrepreneurship. Some people try to get into the game for “entrepreneurship hero worship,” and authenticity is a rare yet under-appreciated trait. “There’s nothing romantic in working 100-hour weeks!” she says. However, for a real founder, it’s not the romance—it’s the grind that pulls them in.

Click Here To Download John Chow’s New eBook, The Ultimate Online Profit Model!