We meet lots of entrepreneurs & startup founders. Both early stage and later stage businesses. Both first-time founders and serial entrepreneurs. After a while, you spot common traits with these founders, traits that enable founders to be successful in their endeavours. “Founder DNA” if you will.
Over the next few weeks, we wanted to start to document, what we see as this Founder DNA, to state what we think makes some people more likely to succeed than others. What it takes to establish a success startup company.
We believe there are many aspects or elements to Founder DNA. In the early days, months and years of setting up a business, these characteristics are very important and are significant markers that indicate if a startup will be successful or not.
So this is our first of a series of Founder DNA Articles
Founder DNA #1 – Embracing Failure
As we grow up from children and enter the workplace, we are taught that failure is bad and must be avoided. Our promotions and bonuses are based on success – failure is not an option. There are a few exceptions to this.
One potential exception to this would be the realms of scientists, they understand that work is a series of experiments, with learning and knowledge gained along the way. Failures offer as much information (if not more) than Successes. The other exception is that of sales, here it is typically a numbers game, having to knock on many doors until you make a sale. Failure is part of the process.
The entrepreneurial mindset has to be comfortable with failure, able to accept failure and bounce back from these setbacks, take the lessons from it and move forward. Unless you have a background as a scientist or a salesperson, this can be difficult to adjust to.
The Startup Pivot
In fact, successful startup founders are so good at embracing failure, they have even created their own term for it … “the pivot”.
Think of the pivot as the scientific trail and error experimentation approach.
Startups pivot or rebrand to adjust their business model or strategy, product or market focus. Looking for the best opportunity for them based on their current resources and capabilities.
a Pivot is actually just Innovation
Remember, while we call this a pivot in the early stages of a company, for more established companies, this is just what we term Innovation. Note, that companies that don’t innovation and adapt, are often the companies that get caught out with market changes, think Kodak or Blockbusters. The long-term successful businesses, are innovating all the time, trying different things, some ideas fail, some ideas succeed.
Embracing Failure … as part of the process
Failure is a natural part of the process of business, common with businesses at all sizes and shapes – from startups to international corporates. Entering new markets is always a process of experimentation.
As a Founder, you need to make sure you get comfortable with failure, learn from each instance, and react with a pivot to adjust your approach and hopefully better align with what the environment is telling you it needs.