Dear SaaStr: What Are The Key Habits Of Highly Successful Entrepreneurs?

The most successful entrepreneurs I’ve invested in (6+ unicorns, 3 billion+ exits) are very different in many ways. Some extroverts, some introverts. Some engineers by training, others in sales or product originally. Some seem to work 100 hours a week, others seem to work hard but with more balance. Some ruthless with competition, some more zen about it.

But a few uniting characteristics of the very best:

  • Relentless Recruiters. You have to be constantly recruiting the best. The best founders usually spend at least 20% of their time recruiting.  More here.
  • No Excuses. Merely “good” founders have plenty of excuses, often valid ones. The vest best founders don’t.
  • Neven Run Out of Money. It’s a sign of weakness IMHE when founders allow the company to run out of money, even if the existing investors sometimes bail them out. The best founders are hyper aware of the burn rate and runway and manage to it.
  • Can See The Future. Merely “good” founders can see the present pretty well, they are in deals all the time. But the best founders can also see the future in their space pretty clearly, and are working hard to get there.  More here.
  • Caring, and Good Humans. Outsiders may not always see it, because CEOs do have to make tough decisions. But the best founders care deeply about their teams, customers, and investors. You sort of have to. You can’t do it all yourself, at least not as you scale.
  • Trustworthy, and No or Limited B.S. Related to the prior point. Being trustworthy just makes it so much easier to lead, and I find all the truly great CEOs I’ve worked with honor their word and are trustworthy. And so many of the rest haven’t honored their word. Time and time again.

If you don’t see those above characteristics, maybe don’t join that startup.

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