Are you a startup founder? Here’s the one skill you need to develop to be successful.

It’s not genius. And definitely not “stable genius”.

 Photo by  Aditya Romansa  on  Unsplash

What in the world does “stable genius” mean anyway? But that’s for a different post on a different day.

Let’s talk about startup founders & deconstruct their DNA.

First of all, startups are incredibly hard. Neil Patel in this Forbes articles guesstimates 90% of startups fail.

And unlike in more conventional 9–5 corporate jobs, startups require you to often work 60+ hours and handle insane levels of stress. As depicted below, there are studies that show that most founders experience stress PRETTY MUCH EVERYDAY.

Startup founders have to be a rare breed of crazy to attempt something with so many odds stacked against them.


If you are a startup founder, you know what I am talking about.

When you founded your startup (whether it is B2C or B2B or SaaS), you agreed to embark on a long long quest. The quest to the first “tipping point” aka product/market fit.

So what is it that makes startup founders uniquely able to go after this quest and stick around until they succeed?

What kind of skills do you need to develop to thrive as a founder?

A team of Harvard professors went about looking for an answer from their most stellar alumni founders and below is what they found:

 Source: Survey results via  Harvard Business Review

Source: Survey results via Harvard Business Review

Although this research is extensive and covers many elements in depth, I think it screams one META SKILL which can be applied to any of the above answers.

9 years ago, Paul Graham already answered this with just one slick phrase on his blog.

“Relentlessly resourceful”

BAM. This is the numero uno skill you need to have as a founder. In simple terms, it is called “GETTING SH*T DONE”. None of the other skills matter if you don’t know how to get sh*t done.

Startups are metaphorical to bomb cyclones in business — where you will face peaks of uncertainty and insufficiency no matter how prepared you are. Be it funds, talent pool, technology tools, people who believe in you, customers who want to buy from you, press which wants to write about you, almost everything in the life of a startup is a resource that you won’t have plenty of.

You need to make the MOST amount of MORE out of LESS.


That’s why developing the skill of resourcefulness in incredibly important.

As per Oxford dictionary, the word resourceful means:

Having the ability to find quick and clever ways to overcome difficulties.

Developing resourcefulness is squeezing every single drop of your creative juices to make things work and get around obstacles. And do this relentlessly day-in and day-out.

David Cummings, a dynamic Atlanta entrepreneur/investor in this blogpost calls resilience and resourcefulness as top 2 traits of a successful entrepreneur.

There is another legendary outspoken believer in this skill in tech. Jeff Bezos. His wife’s rationale, Bezos says jokingly in this article, is that she “would much rather have a kid with nine fingers than a resourceless kid.” Now, that’s a tough family to grow up in (in contrast my mom doesn’t let me touch sharp knives even now!) but seems like they are preparing future leaders at home.

Anyway, like how the most prolific founders start their year, always be learning. If there is room for improvement (THERE ALWAYS IS!), I hope you’ll consider working on that hustle muscle this 2018 and become more resourceful.


What are your thoughts? What do you believe are some skills that a founder needs to develop to be successful?