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Six Qualities Every Great Startup Founder Needs

July 21, 2022

What makes a truly great founder that is capable of leading a company to long-term success?

We meet a lot of founders. Many are brilliant and talented individuals with a vision to build something of value. While every entrepreneur wants to believe they have what it takes to make a world-changing company, the reality is that running a startup is one of the hardest things to do. In fact, more than two-thirds ultimately fail. 

The question then becomes: what makes a truly great founder that is capable of leading a company to long-term success?

We asked the early-stage investor team here at B Capital to look across our portfolio of world-changing companies and highlight the most important qualities and characteristics of a great leader and founder. Here’s what they had to say:

#1 Vision

Great founders need a vision for where they want to take their company. Whether it’s a problem they want to solve, a product they want to bring to life, or a certain level of company growth they want to achieve, entrepreneurs need a long-term goal that will serve as the company’s foundation. Companies can adapt to business conditions and pivot strategy, but that initial vision should always remain the same.

#2 Grit and Determination

The journey of starting and running a company is often incredibly hard. Every founder has had their share of obstacles, failures, and internal doubts that they had to overcome. To be successful as a founder, you must have unrelenting ambition and a willingness to “walk through walls.”

#3 Integrity

Success should never come at the expense of personal and business integrity. Having integrity as a leader means being able and willing to do what is right for the company no matter what. Often founders have opportunities to cut corners, shift accountability, and make decisions that compromise their vision. But short-sighted decisions can lead to problems and complications further down the road, and can quickly have a negative impact on the company culture and the bottom line. 

#4 Coachability

Like everyone, founders need guidance sometimes, too. Even the most seasoned leaders will encounter challenges they may not be equipped to handle. Being open to outside perspectives and a willingness to learn from those who are more experienced is essential for personal and business growth. Accepting feedback comes with the territory of running a business; but great leaders know how to seek out help from mentors, ask the right questions, and bring those insights back to the company.

#5 The Ability to Recruit and Inspire

Founders can’t do everything alone; they need powerful teams at their side. Especially in today’s red-hot talent market, the ability to recruit and retain employees is one of the most critical factors for a startup. Early-stage founders especially need to be able to sell prospective hires on their vision and mission, while also keeping employees engaged and invested in the company’s long-term growth. Being an inspirational leader doesn’t necessarily require an impressive background or a commanding presence; it simply means being values-driven, committed to your vision, and willing to empower your employees.

#6 An “Unfair” Advantage

Startup success is often less about being first and more about being the “best.” Founders that have specialized knowledge or experience in their particular field tend to have an advantage that they can leverage over competitors and incumbents in the same industry. While a competitive advantage doesn’t guarantee victory, it certainly puts the company in a better position to accelerate growth.

Founders also need reliable partners to help them along the journey. Learn more about how B Capital supports early-stage founders with the resources and guidance they need to grow and scale:

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