All things being equal, from my observation success or failure of a startup boils down to three main characteristics of its staff: Motivation, Ability & Attitude. This of course, first and foremost applies to the founder, followed by his/her team that supports him/her behind.
Motivation – is the founder motivated to make his startup-idea a success? Is this his own idea that he is passionate about? Or was he put in charge of this startup by someone else (board, investors..)?
Level of motivation that a founder has for his startup-idea plays a major role in the success of his startup.
Ability – is he capable, both as a leader and a manager? Does he have the expertise in the field that his startup is operating? How is his execution skills? Is he a doer? Does he have the required experience?
Well-roundedness is the key characteristic of ablepeople – people who get things done. They understand and appreciate the different complexities of running a company. From product development to HR to Operations etc. And they are able to navigate through the many challenges and still get the things done.
Attitude – does he have the right attitude towards the idea, the startup, the way startups normally operate in a chaotic environment, agile methodology, continuous improvement, continuous customer feedback…? Or is he a 9am – 5pm, corporate type of guy?
Having a right attitude will produce a right behavior and vice versa. (Definition of an attitude: a settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, typically one that is reflected in a person’s behavior.)
It’s hard to change attitudes, and often times it’s impossible to change settled attitudes. Therefore, it’s absolutely critical to have the right person as the founder from the beginning. Same goes to the hiring of team members. Most hiring managers tend to pay more attention to CV credentials than an attitude of a person, which I think is a big mistake.
Often times, people have different combination of these three. I hope that your founder has the highest scores in all three, namely; high motivation, strong ability and the right attitude in order to achieve a fully connected cycle to run your startup smoothly.
But realistically, it’s difficult to find an individual that has a fully connected cycle. And it’s more difficult to build a team that has the full-cycle as well.
This is not some sort of management theory from MBA books. It’s just my personal observation throughout the years. Being both as an entrepreneur myself and an employee of startups and big corporation. I, now can see these three characteristics that are needed in the founder & the team to get a good idea turn into a successful startup.