Do You Have the Right Psychological Profile to Launch a Startup?



Much is made of the importance of entrepreneurs having the right skills in order to launch and lead a startup. But of equal if not greater importance, is the need for the entrepreneur to have the right ‘attitude’ or ‘psychology’.

Successfully launching a startup in today’s tough economic climate is an extremely challenging and stressful experience.

The stress is such that entrepreneurs are perceived to be at risk of developing ‘Founder’s Syndrome’ or other mental health issues. In ‘Just Manic Enough’ it’s suggested that

a thin line separates the temperament of a promising entrepreneur from a person who could use, as they say in psychiatry, a little help

In a similar vein, Alexander Zelaznick, a professor emeritus of psychology at Harvard Business School said

To understand the entrepreneur, you first have to understand the psychology of the juvenile delinquent.”

Legendary Angel Investor Ron Conway, recently said

People first, idea second and market size third’.

The team is nearly always the most important factor for an investor when deciding whether to invest in a startup. And the CEO (usually Founder) is the key person on the team, so their attitude and psychology are right under the spotlight.

The importance of having the right attitude when attempting great things is nothing new. Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States, once stated that

Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal, nothing can help the man with the wrong attitude.”

And modern day Peak Performance Coach, Anthony Robbins, has often said that psychology counts for 80% of the reason that someone succeeds.

So what is the psychological profile of the successful entrepreneur?

In ‘Ten Traits to Be an Entrepreneur’ entrepreneur Josh Clemence lists the following qualities as being essential for an entrepreneur:

1. Passion
2. Ambition
3. Fearlessness
4. Resourcefulness
5. Sociability
6. Leadership
7. Opportunistic
8. Openness
9. Focus
10. Tenacity

I would add to Josh’s list

1. Integrity
2. Respect for others
3. Incredible self-belief
4. Ability to withstand rejection
5. Humility and willingness to acknowledge mistakes
6. Ability to thrive on risk
7. Ego management
8. Ability to keep a ‘steady hand’ under extreme pressure

A very long list. I would go further and argue that to achieve success an entrepreneur must excel in these qualities, not simply possess them.

Clearly no person can possess all of these traits and we all of have our weaknesses. It does seem, however, that the more of these qualities an entrepreneur has, the greater their chances of success.

Reprinted by permission.

Image credit: CC by Martin Hricko

About the author: Martin Soorjoo

Founder of The Pitch Clinic, Martin Soorjoo is a pitch strategist. He coaches entrepreneurs world-wide, helping them launch and raise funding. Prior to founding The Pitch Clinic, Martin spent 15 years as a former award winning attorney. He has worked with start-ups and investors, including senior investment bankers, venture capitalists and angel investors. During this period Martin raised several million dollars, including negotiating one deal worth $75 Million. This experience has equipped him with unique insights into the challenges start-ups face and how investors make decisions. He is a Certified Master Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and an expert in body language.

Martin is the author of ‘Here’s the Pitch‘.

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