Richard Harris from Okappy outlines the key characteristics of building a start-up.

A startup founder plays the most vital part in the startup's success. The founder’s characteristics are of equal importance to a good idea, seed funding or even a mentor. The responsibility of decision making, driving day to day operation and keeping track of the market lies with the startup founder. As the Dalai Lama puts it “A genuine change must first come from within the individual, only then can he or she attempt to make a significant contribution to humanity.” In my experience of building my own startups, in order for them to be successful, I’ve found that It is imperative to pay close attention to developing the key characteristics outlined below.


It is essential to have the ability to adapt quickly for when changes occur. A startup founder will face many challenges and will sometimes have to make compromises in order to seal certain deals. The best CEOs will know when it’s necessary to adjust their product or business model to better fit the market or consumer demand. Technological developments are happening everyday and you need to be prepared. You may think you’re the disruptor now, but at some point someone else’s product will be disrupting yours. Overcoming these hurdles means knowing when you need to rebrand or innovate and even knowing when it’s time to move on.

A thirst for knowledge

Technology is always moving forward, businesses are expanding and new startups are being founded each day. To accommodate these progressions - you have to be up to date. Being a successful business founder doesn’t mean cutting corners. Always expanding your area of expertise and the pool of knowledge surrounding your industry is essential for finding your feet in the market. Read new releases, research into the scientific data, listen to the latest podcasts or whatever it may be that will help you get ahead of the game!

“No task is too great” mindset.

As the CEO of a startup you will have to face many obstacles. Without the mindset of a champion problem solver you won’t get very far. You will often need to learn new things in order to fix certain problems. You can’t be afraid of developing a new skill or spending time sourcing the right person for the job to help you find a solution. In the first few months or years it may be just you, which means having a certain level of grit. At the beginning it is likely you will have to do a lot of the work on your own without much or any funding. This means being a salesperson, designer, marketer, or whatever it may be. In this day and age you won’t get very far at all if you’re not Tech-savvy, but to be a startup founder means you must be prepared to be a jack of all trades, for a while at least.

A Relationship Builder

As a founder it is essential to form partnerships and to create a positive working environment. According to Forbes “not caring about your people or the organization’s mission will not get you very far.” This means having the ability to communicate effectively and understand the needs of a diverse range of people. You will most likely have to recruit people as your business grows. Having the ability to build up a group of individuals is one thing, but can you create a community that will let ideas flourish?

Unbreakable Resilience

Startup founders must be hardy individuals. Building a business is difficult and most tasks end up taking a lot longer than you think they will. At the beginning no one will know who you are or what you’re doing. Patience and determination are vital characteristics that will allow business founders to cope when the going gets tough. For every “yes” you’re going to get hundreds of “no” ’s as you go through various rounds of funding, days of cold calling and endless pitching events. This means going above and beyond the average “can-do” attitude. In order to be resilient means to you have to have a vision. Keeping yourself focused on your goals will help motivate you through all these challenges.

For more information, check 4 ways to be a tech savvy manager, 10 Communications tips for Facilities Managers and our Top 5 ways to make your business more efficient.