Lists of entrepreneurial qualitiesaboundon the web. After a couple years of working with entrepreneurs and start-ups, I’ve come to the conclusion that while entrepreneurs in aggregate do exhibit many similar personal qualities, the success of their start-up is a different issue altogether and tied to a much more extensive set of factors.
So my personal “scorecard” for initial evaluation of entrepreneurs includes both personal factors and opportunity factors. I typically look at four factors in each category. What follows is a quick overview of my thought process in an initial meeting with an entrepreneur.
There’s an old cliche in the investment community that they would rather invest in “an A team with a B product, then a B team with an A product.” This speaks to the importance of the people involved in any start-up, and I tend to judge the entrepreneur before I judge the idea. Following are the four factors that weigh heavily in my evaluation of the personal side of the entrepreneurship equation.
Passion and Commitment
“Inner Circle” support
Finally, on my scorecard, it’s highly important that the entrepreneur takes ownership for their own success. Any entrepreneur who demonstrates in any way a mindset that their success is dependent on the actions of other people presents a huge red flag and is a topic I will immediately address.
Even an A team needs something to sell, and when I say “opportunity” I mean the product, service or concept the entrepreneur has at the core of the start-up. The questions below speak primarily to the bulk of my current clients: high-growth potential start-ups in the technology space.
Something that’s real
Market need, and a way to get there
A team that can deliver
So that’s my scorecard, what do you think? It’s not intended to be anything other than an initial vetting tool as obviously deeper information is needed to truly judge the potential of any start-up. However, as a tool to evaluate early stage entrepreneurs and their businesses it has served me well and I can tell you that many of these areas are also important to my peers.
Entrepreneurs – how do you fare against this scorecard?
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