Finding a Founder

I cut my teeth in a generation where entrepreneurs were a relatively rare beast and most people’s working ambition was to secure ‘a job for life’ — a concept now extinct as no job is secure.

Today, we live in an era where entrepreneurs are the new rock stars and the aspiring masses look enviously at the elite utopia of ‘unicorns’ and their suburbia from a vast wasteland of failed ideas and startups.

We used to have to strive, suffer and make sacrifices for years as we worked towards the prize of achieving fame or owning a successful business. Now, thanks to Reality TV and a few young billionaires, we have a culture of dreamers who believe they can become rich and famous ‘overnight’.

How do you spot the winners in the X-Factor of businesses hopefuls? The founder may have the ability (talent) to make their idea work but once that box has been ticked there are a few fundamental principles that need to be applied to ensure you’ve found the next One Direction of the business world.

  1. Is the concept unique and is the world ready for it? If so, why has no one else done it?
  2. Why will this idea / business NOT work? It’s always easy to show why something will work
  3. How scalable is the idea? Can it go global and if so how quickly? The best barrier to entry is to build traction fast and establish a dominant position.

If the answers to the above are positive, the real test follows.

  1. How committed is the founder? Will they put their life on hold and work 24/7 to make this fly?
  2. How much energy does the founder have for the business? There has to be a real sense of urgency and a drive to get on with it!
  3. Do they have a strong vision but at the same time a willingness to be flexible on the detail? You need a strategy but you also need to listen and learn as the business evolves. Stubbornness (‘I’m right and I’m not wavering’) will kill it, dead.

This is by no means a comprehensive test but if the answers to the above 6 questions are not all a convincing ‘YES’, it has to be an emphatic ‘NO’ from you.

Don’t waste any more time. Move on.

This article was written by Surgify Mentor Gordon Robson. Find him on LinkedIn here:

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