20 Qualities of A Great Founder

When building a great company, every position matters – from the CEO to the CTO, to the COO, to the CMO. Patrick Bet-David points out that the Founder is in a unique position because the Founder can’t turn to anybody. The buck stops at their desk. When something goes wrong it is their fault. 

A founder may not take the company to its highest heights, that may be a CEO that comes after them, but the founder gives that company the chance to survive through the toughest part of a company’s life.

So, what makes a great founder? Here are just some qualities that can be found in great founders.

20 Qualities of A Great Founder

  1. They’re Very Unreasonable

    1. From the very beginning of their company, the great Founders are demanding and unreasonable when it comes to employee output and company expectations. They will lose a lot of people in those early years because their demand is bigger than their company size. But the great Founders already have a vision for their company. They start with big company demands well before they reach that mountaintop.
  2. Others Can Coexist With a Great Founder

    1. If the Founder wants to create a big business, they are going to have to surround themselves with people that are experts in areas that the Founder knows nothing about. The team and the Founder have to coexist to achieve the Founders vision. 
  3. A Level of Determination Higher Than The Rest

    1. This quality is a part of being unreasonable, great Founders are so focused to achieve their vision and their dream that outpaces everybody else in determination and grit. 
  4. Nimble Yet Firm

    1. Great Founders are firm on their beliefs because they have to in order to achieve their vision, but they are also nimble so they can pivot when given advice from an expert on how to do it better. 
  5. They Don’t Get Swayed

    1. They are positively stubborn and optimistic about the fact that this thing is going to become a reality. Great Founders already have bought into their vision and from the outside, it may look like they are negatively stubborn. They are not, they just aren’t swayed from that vision so easily.
  6. Willing to Share Equity & Victories With Others

    1. The bigger the talent you want on your team, the bigger the piece of equity that talent will demand. If you as a Founder wants big-name talent to push your vision forward, you got to be ready to share the wins and the equity with them. They are not going to jump on board with your vision just because you believe in it. They need results too. Great Founders say yes to this deal because they know it’s better to own 20 percent of a $10,000,000,000 company than own a hundred percent of a $5,000,000.
  7. Willing to Start From Scratch

    1. Founders understand that in order to pull this thing off, they may need to start all over again from scratch. They get respect from competitors, talent, employees, and vendors because all of those people see that this Founder is willing to push the envelope. The only way to build a big company is for the Founder to be prepared for the breaking point, where it’s either sink or swim.
  8. Comfortable Having Tough Conversations With Others

    1. These types of Founders are not afraid to sit down with anyone from a team leader, to a vendor, to an attorney and have a tough conversation to solve issues. They do it because having those tough conversations will make the company better and bring it closer to their ultimate vision.
  9. Constantly Selling

    1. If you asked these Founders to stop selling 24/7, they couldn’t do it. They are constantly selling their vision and their company to everyone all the time. It is the only way they reach their goal.  
  10. Integrity

    1. In order to keep the best people and the smartest talent, the Founder has to retain their integrity. They may be crazy at times, but their integrity must remain intact to convert their teams into true believers.
    2. Warren Buffet likes three things in an entrepreneur – energy, integrity, and competency. But without integrity forget the other two.
  11. Good Sounding Board Around Them to Show Them Their Flaws & Faults

    1. Just because a Founder listens to feedback doesn’t mean that the Founder will take action on all the feedback. But without having a sounding board that is honest and covers the Founder’s blind spots, the Founder isn’t going to position themselves and the business to grow exponentially. Great Founders don’t care whose idea it is. If it makes sense and will help the business to move ahead faster, they do it.  
  12. Restless (Out of Control Energy)

    1. A restless Founder divides potential talent into two camps. The first looks at a Founder that never sleeps and says, “I can’t keep up with him. If he wants me to have that much energy? I can’t do it.”
    2. The other group is inspired by the energy and the passion and says, “I want him on my team because I would rather ride with him than against him in the marketplace.”
  13. Great Recruiters

    1. Since great Founders are constantly selling, they are always recruiting talent. They don’t stop telling their story and you can see it in their emails, texts, blogs, videos, over dinner, at happy hour, anywhere and everywhere they are.
  14. They’re the Pied Piper

    1. For a great Founder to surround themselves with true believers they must convert people, baptize them, and evangelize their message. The only way they will lead talent to the promised land by going out and preaching the gospel of their vision.
  15. They Learn How to Stretch the Dollar

    1. When starting a business, every dollar needs to be worth more than the value printed on it. Great Founders are magicians when it comes to stretching their dollars and turning that $50,000 and into $100,000.
  16. Gut Feeling (Intuition)

    1. You can’t teach it, you either have it or you don’t. The great Founders have feelings about who to go into business with or not and who to hire or not. They trust that gut feeling because they can see the vision and they know how to get there.
  17. They’re Great at Painting a Picture

    1. Their vision comes through clearly in all their communications because if it didn’t, no one could picture it. Great Founders have got to be excellent at painting a picture of what they are seeing.
  18. They’re Very Moody

    1. Founders are moody. They may be yelling one second and joking the next but that is because they have a great perspective. They yell to get their passion and urgency across, but they need people to execute their vision. So, the next second, they are joking because they want their people to excel and stick around. There is a purpose to their moodiness, it’s not just wild emotions.
  19. They Have Imagination

    1. Founders are always living in the future, they are always thinking of the ‘what ifs’. That’s what attracts people to them and that’s where their big visions come from. It can also create a lot of anxiety and panic because they are always thinking about possible outcomes. But great Founders need that edge of knowing what could happen because that edge turns into urgency and determination.
  20. They Have Interesting Conversations with Themselves

    1. In the beginning, there isn’t anybody else, they only have themselves to talk to. That’s where this quality comes from. It grows as the company grows into their own internal board, analyzing possibilities and pivots. It sounds crazy but you have to be crazy to bring this level of uncertainty and determination into your life.

Next Steps: If you ever worked with a great founder that left a great impression on you or maybe even something that you learned from them, even if it was a little bit odd, send Patrick a tweet about it at @patrickbetdavid

Download the PDF and assess yourself and your qualities against what makes a great founder.

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