Blog

Want to be a successful entrepreneur? Use failure to your advantage.

Have you caught yourself combing through Steve Jobs’ biography in the hope of finding the secret to entrepreneurial success? You might want to rethink your approach.

by Jo Foster
Share This

When it comes to business direction and inspiration, there are a lot of big-name entrepreneurs to look up to in the hopes of mirroring even a little of their amazing achievements. 

For instance, have you caught yourself combing through Steve Jobs’ biography in the hope of finding the secret to entrepreneurial success? You might want to rethink your approach.

There’s no doubt successful entrepreneurs can be inspirational. But let’s be honest, inspiration isn’t always helpful when reflecting on and overcoming hurdles in your own journey.

We’ve found over many years of studying successful founders that there are certain strengths and attitudes that can predict your likelihood of success. But, as it happens, there’s about as much to learn from the attitudes of those who don’t succeed as there is from those who do.

Our study has identified these as blind spots. And yep, even Steve had them! Do any of these resonate with you? Here's what you can learn from a few attitudes that can signal rough seas in a business venture:

You get bogged down in the details.

Following rules and procedures are a blessing in the corporate world. But if you want to build a successful startup, you’ll need to throw them out the window with that Steve Jobs bio.

Turns out, too much attention to detail actually relates directly to business failure. And by too much, we don’t mean obsessing over reports in the wee hours of the morning. We mean a focus of more than 8%. Yikes!

Being light on detail means you can be super agile in your approach. It gives you the power to grasp opportunities as they arise, which is key to any successful new venture.

You’re too much of a team player.

Yes, teamwork is important in any business. But too much could be your downfall.  

Our research found that entrepreneurs with a motivation for shared responsibility—those who thrive as part of a team and in collaborative decision-making situations—were more likely to experience early-stage financial loss.

One of many likely factors here is that team-playing entrepreneurs often find themselves spread thinly across too many tasks and projects. Do less better, and delegate the rest.

You’re extremely patient.

Patience is not so much a virtue in startup land as a doomsday prophecy. Our research found that in the early stages of starting up a business, patient founders had real difficulty scaling and achieving profitability. Successful entrepreneurs act now. And act fast!

Sure, this doesn’t work out every time. The enigmatic Steve Jobs we keep mentioning launched his fair share of epic fails before hitting his home run. But acting – and failing – fast allowed him to rapidly learn from his mistakes and build up his internal reference points.

You’re crazy motivated.

Surely a truckload of motivation is going to work in your favor when it comes to startup success? Not so, says our study results.

As a successful entrepreneur, you need to know where to channel your energy. Having a low preference for some aspects of business is not only preferred, it’s critical. (There’s only 24 hours in a day, remember?)

We found that the most successful entrepreneurs were very motivated to act on certain aspects of their startup, and displayed a notably low focus on others. Go figure.

You don’t care about the money. At all.

It’s not really a surprise that successful entrepreneurs tend to have an extremely high focus on money. What might surprise you is the way in which successful entrepreneurs think about it: it's less supercar and more spreadsheet, as in profit margins, expenditure, and cold, hard cash.

In our study, successful startup founders were up to 43% more interested in money than the general working population. Time to start dreaming in dollars and cents (or find a co-founder who already does).


Keen to know where your blind spots lie? Head to Fingerprint for Success to find out.

Share This

Join Us!

Welcome to a flourishing community of like-minded entrepreneurs and VCs making their mark and changing the universe, one planet at a time.

Sign up for weekly inspiration and insights.

Join Now