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Sure, hard work, a good product and financial investment are essential to creating a thriving business. But what about less obvious factors, such as founder attitudes and motivations? How do they impact venture success—and failure? What role do the individual interests of entrepreneurs play in predicting business outcomes like investment, longevity, and profitability?
There’s one factor that’s common to all ventures that has a huge effect on whether it will be successful or not, and that’s the person (or people) behind it. Surprisingly, the attitudes of the business owner is often an overlooked factor that can have a huge influence on business outcomes and, ultimately, success.
Our 15-year study into some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs has revealed some key differences that predict whether a founder is likely to flourish or fizzle.
In the past, many researchers have looked at what personality traits (that is, the things you’re hard-wired for, your personality ‘type’) make someone more likely to be an entrepreneur. However, few have looked into what impact entrepreneurs have on the success or failure of their business, based on what motivates and drives them.
Our research—which personally engaged some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs—has uncovered patterns that show distinct and statistically significant correlations between the level of motivation entrepreneurs have for particular aspects of business and their venture success.
A motivation is what gives you energy and satisfaction at work, and indicates your preferred working style. Since motivational drivers—unlike personality traits—are flexible according to context, that means they can be adapted.
With focus and application, you can even dial up or down your motivations to help you hit your business milestones and goals, avoiding blind spots and making sure you and your team are calibrated for business success.
Now, the idea of ‘changing your attitude’ might bring back memories of being told off by a school teacher. But best to leave those memories back in school—we think about attitude change in terms of ‘priming yourself to win’, ‘getting motivated’, or ‘aligning your preferences for success.’
Ultimately, they all mean the same thing: and that’s finding out what motivates you in a work or business context, and fine-tuning them to put you in the best position to progress in business. Knowing where your motivations lie also helps you to choose roles that align with your natural motivations and passions—where you will do your best work.
Change begins with self-awareness—it’s crucial that you find out what motivates you and where your blind spots are so that you can make sure you’re in the best possible position to make your business goals a reality. You might think you know where your preferences lie, but thousands of our case studies indicate that in fact, you may be in for a few surprises.
For example, we worked with two co-founders who sought coaching because they couldn’t stick with one business for longer than 18 months. On taking their Fingerprint for Success assessment—which measures preference for 48 business attitudes—both found that they had a significantly lower focus on money than they each assumed, and significantly less than the average in successful entrepreneurs.
With regular focused coaching interventions, within a year, both had significantly increased their motivation for money, developing an appreciation for and enjoyment of the financial side of their business. The change in attitude flowed on to their profit margins as well: their business’s profits increased by 403% (calculated using relative variance).
You can change your attitude by seeking an outside eye, whether it’s from a mentor, a board member, an investor or a personal coach. Because of the nature of motivations, in that you’re drawn to the activities and styles of working that you derive energy from, you might not notice if you’ve got a blind spot in a certain area, and that’s when it becomes crucial to get another perspective.
Another essential is to choose co-founders or team members who you trust to point out to you when you’re letting your natural preferences get in the way of making good business decisions.
As a founder, no-one is more responsible for the success of a business than you, so you owe it to yourself to invest in yourself and your team, to give your venture the best shot of realizing its—and your own—fullest potential.
Curious about your motivational levels and how they align with venture success? Get your Fingerprint for Success today!