There's this great visual most people have of being an entrepreneur or a founder. It's a poster of a young college dropout, next to the logo of a billion-dollar company they founded, surrounded by famous people and, of course, money. Lots of money.

It seems, all of a sudden, everyone wants to be on that poster. And everyone believes the only way to be on that poster is by being the founder of a company. In fact, even the government seems to desperately want everyone in the country to be on that poster.

Heaven forbid, if you are not a founder, then suddenly there is no poster and you have lost out in the startup revolution. This perception is so far from reality that it's dangerous. Mark Suster described entrepreneurship well: "Being an entrepreneur is sexy... for those who haven't done it."

A founder is one member of a team. Just like every other member, they have certain responsibilities. And to manage those responsibilities, they need certain attributes. Everyone doesn't have those attributes. And, thank god, everyone doesn't have them — if everyone became an entrepreneur, we would have a series of failed companies because there would be no one to actually run them.

So what does an entrepreneur need? Let us pen down a few things to look for in founders. They have extreme confidence in themselves and their ideas; no fear of failure; an inherent ability to take risks over and over again; an ability to constantly manage stress; are good decision-makers — the best entrepreneurs never sit on the fence; work all the time, even when not working — which means they're sacrificing something else in their lives; are perpetual optimists who can take rejection over and over again. Having these attributes are not good or bad. And they definitely aren't linked to success or failure as a human being.

In fact, very few people have these attributes. When people who are meant to be executives in a company become founders, everyone loses. One of the most dangerous results of investing in the wrong founders is that it has an effect on the larger ecosystem.

Oh and, by the way, executives are in short supply. Ask any founder running a company today. There is always a need for more people. Meanwhile,there seems to be a plethora of qualified founders in India. I've met many, and invested in a few.

But given the dearth of high-quality talent, I suspect most of those founders will suffer. And the more the ecosystem blindly motivates the wrong kinds of individuals to start their own companies, the more everyone loses.

Read more here.

First Published in Economic Times
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