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Founder Fridays No. 64
What are successful founder traits?
Did a savvy founder share this with you?
Successful Founder Traits
Startups are not pitch decks and spreadsheets. They are human endeavors. They are more akin to organisms, complex and unpredictable, thriving or decaying based on a multitude of variables. A significant variable in the success of a startup is the founder, specifically traits in this person that most overlook, such as:
Adaptability. Adaptability is about the founder's capacity to learn quickly, to unlearn even quicker and to make decisions with a composite view that takes into account changing variables.
Emotional Intelligence. Emotional intelligence translates to a founder's capacity for empathy — a critical trait for understanding customers deeply, navigating investor relations effectively and fostering a workspace culture that attracts top talent.
Domain Expertise. When a founder knows the “what” and “why” of the market intricacies, it significantly de-risks the investment and fast-tracks the journey to product-market fit and beyond.
Execution. Ideas are abundant; it’s the disciplined execution of those ideas that's a scarce commodity. There's a reason why “execution risk” is one of the most pervasive deal-breakers in the world of venture capital. It’s not because investors are averse to risk; it’s because they know that even a mediocre idea with brilliant execution can trump a brilliant idea burdened by poor execution. HackerNoon (5 minutes)
Leadership is a Research Project
The best leaders — regardless of seniority or role — are also tireless investigators of the humans around them. Social dynamics get their constant attention and are the key thing they use to do their jobs well. They build on existing knowledge rather than just relying on intuition. They use the insights they discover to guide, to communicate and to decide. And they do that constantly, indefinitely. As a leader, we need to learn about our colleagues’ histories and their goals. What’s hard about their jobs? What do they love? What keeps them up at night? We need to know these things to effectively guide, support and communicate. Helping people grow and guiding round pegs toward round holes requires us to know. We also need to look into interpersonal dynamics, including the ones that happen when we’re not around. Who works well with whom? Which skills and approaches are complementary? Who can combine to make a great team? Are there rivalries, animosities, friendships and favorites? Where do they come from? One Big Thought (8 minutes)
Making Customer Success Work
Once you’ve reached a certain level of growth — typically around $100 million in annual recurring revenue (ARR) — you’ll generate much more revenue from your post-sales org than from landing net-new logos. If you configure your customer success org correctly, you’ll unlock the easy momentum of that post-sales org and continue to grow more quickly and efficiently. So how do we fix customer service? By keeping it laser-focused on customer health as a leading indicator for the revenue and product orgs. What does this look like? Ensuring that customers are on track to realize the positive business outcomes everyone agreed on in the presale. Your customer service management (CSM) team should be the only team that can provide you with a data-driven perspective on the overall health of your accounts, whether they’re inoculated against churn, good to renew or set up to expand. A16z (6 minutes)
Founder FAQ: I just incorporated my startup, do I need to do anything else?
Congrats! You’ve incorporated. Your startup is officially a real company. It’s a meaningful step in the process but only the first step. Before you are able to legally operate your startup, there are a number of additional steps you need to take. This is sometimes referred to as the post-incorporation process, which brings you from a newly minted company to a fully functional company. You’ll need to at least complete the following steps before you can legally open a bank account, hire contractors or employees, or start doing business. There may be some variation, depending on the needs of your company or the preferences of your counsel. But the list below has become a fairly standard set of initial documents for a venture-backable startup.
Action of Incorporator
Initial board consent
Restricted stock purchase agreements
This article breaks down each of these steps. Westaway (7 minutes)
Startup Funding Guides
I’ve put together a series of guides to equip founders to excel at fundraising. These guides break down the deal term by term and give you negotiation tips so that you can speak to investors with confidence.
Control Legal Spend
Startups suffer from unpredictable legal bills under the billable hour system. Fees fluctuate month-to-month without warning. Law firms drag out billable hours, but startups foot the bill. Even basic work can lead to surprisingly high legal bills. This unpredictability cripples financial planning. Budgets rarely match actual spend. With utter uncertainty around legal spend, startups cannot forecast or manage burn rates effectively. The antiquated billable hour system fails them. Our General Counsel flat monthly fee service gives startups cost certainty. Legal spend becomes predictable with bundled services and no surprise overage bills. By switching from hourly to our flat fee model, startups finally get confident budgeting, accurate forecasting, and predictable legal spend. If you’re sick of getting surprise legal bills and are interested interested in controlling your legal spend, let’s talk.