This element is designed to look for a key trait in the management team of nearly all successful new ventures: speed. While some people can drive a car comfortably at 100 MPH, others start to panic and constantly ride the brakes. Key entrepreneurial instincts and the ability to move quickly (combination of confidence, analysis, and risk) are core to moving nearly all business ventures forward. Can the team keep up with the aggressive pace a start up demands? Or are they a group of “over-thinkers” who have a tough time making decisions? What questions do you ask to find out if the management team has what it takes to accelerate?
There is certainly a balance we look for in this category. Swiftness of execution is an essential component for any startup, but there is a good deal that needs to be sorted out before the plan is followed through. A great analogy here is to think of painting: preparation is 80% of the work. Obviously, figuring out how to turn the crank and make money with your business as quickly as possible is the goal, but putting all your resources into a plan you suspect is the right one before actually knowing for sure is a recipe for disaster. In other words: you must first do the planning before you can start executing at full speed. You don’t want to be sprinting down a dead end, do you?
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This element looks at “the type” of manager that is leading the charge. There are legendary stories about leaders who no matter what changes take place, stick to the original plan. While sticking to the game plan is a good thing, if it means heading in the wrong direction for several years, it is a very very bad thing. It’s essential for managers to be be open and accepting of the many different challenges that they will likely face launching and growing a start up venture. What are some questions you ask to find out if the CEO is control freak? Or if they have good ears and are willing to use them? Are management teams that are open to shifts in their businesses and quick on their feet more likely to succeed? How important is flexibility?
Flexibility is, in my opinion, hands down the most important trait of successful entrepreneurs. I was involved with a startup not too long ago that is slowly dying because the CEO refuses to budge from the current business strategy. I saw five employees (including myself) walk out on him simply because he’s been unwilling to adapt to new information with regards to the market and viability and of the product. In order to be successful, especially today, entrepreneurs must be able to make decisions quickly even if that means steering the ship in a new direction.
I was suprised when I read this article, entitled “25 Common Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneur,”that flexibility was not called out specifically. It inspired me to write…
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