The one quality every entrepreneur must have

A friend of mine recently entered the VC industry. Given my experiences as a seed stage investor, he reached out to get some tips on how to succeed as a VC. Since as VC’s we’re only as good as the entrepreneurs we back, I told him that he needed to work with the best entrepreneurs. Our discussion naturally evolved into a reflection on the qualities which make a successful entrepreneur. As I soon reached the point where I had exhausted all available positive adjectives to describe the founders of our most successful startups, it hit me. There was a common thread across the attributes like passion, an ability to motivate, and not taking no for an answer, which I had just mentioned. The best entrepreneurs that I had backed did not care what others thought about them.

When you don’t care what others think about you, you’re able to follow your passion. The only light that guides you is your internal belief in the value of what you’re doing, not external expectations. As a result of living in sync with your passion, you’re a source of positive energy who motivates others. Your team is comfortable following the direction that you’ve laid out for them because they know that you’re passionate about your vision and will do whatever it takes to see your team succeed. You will succeed if your team succeeds and you’ll fail if your team fails, so your incentives are aligned. And if you don’t care what others think about you, you certainly won’t be discouraged by the series of no’s that you’ll inevitably receive while pursuing a game-changing idea. Any idea worth its salt will have as many detractors as promoters because it is novel and as humans we have a tendency to fear the unknown.

So there you have it my friend. As a VC you should work with entrepreneurs who don’t care what others think about them. And as a general principle, if you have the good fortune to be the entrepreneur in charge of the startup of your life, you should work in a role where you don’t care what others think about you. Only by following your internal expectations of yourself will you be able to fulfil your true potential.