35 Gut Checks When Founding Your First Company

Posted on January 31, 2010. Filed under: startups, venture capital | Tags: , , , |

If you are thinking about founding your first company, standing at the edge of the entrepreneurial swimming pool, trying to decide if you should dive in, here is a checklist (sort of a Meyers Brigg for founders) to help you figure out if this life is for you. It is based on my observations of the thousands of entrepreneurs who I have gotten to know over the past 4 years.  I would say, if you’re answer is “No” to more than 10 of these statements, think very carefully about making the jump.  There is no science or data to support this checklist.  Strictly my own observations of what is required to enjoy and excel in this experience.

1)      I tend to thrive in an unstructured environment

2)      I am capable of teaching myself almost anything I want to learn

3)      I do not need positive reinforcement from others in order to be happy/effective

4)      I am primarily competing against myself

5)      I am completely self-motivated

6)      More often then not I get what I want

7)      Money is not the primary metric by which I measure my professional success/progress

8)      I am comfortable living a life that most of my friends and family will not understand or be able to relate to

9)      I am a fantastic listener

10)  I seek out help at the first sign that I need it

11)  Work is by far and away my greatest passion

12)  I handle disappointment well

13)  I have more energy than most people

14)  I love to win and hate to lose.

15)  The concept of “the path” revolts me

16)  I am above no task or role

17)  I have friends and family who will support me even if I do not give them as much attention as I should

18)  I have no fear of running out of money

19)  The word “can’t” is not in my vocabulary.  There are things that are extremely difficult to achieve, but nothing is impossible

20)  Pressure does not derail me

21)  I am not intimidated by anyone

22)  I enjoy solving hard problems

23)  I do not frustrate easily

24)  I exercise regularly

25)  I fundamentally believe in myself

26)  I am highly experimental

27)  I am a doer, not a manager of doers

28)  Laziness and complacency disgusts me

29)  I am an excellent judge of character and talent

30)  I am rarely tricked.  It is very difficult to deceive me.

31)  I have an extremely low tolerance for incompetence

32)  I have an extremely accurate perception of my strengths and weaknesses

33)  I am not too proud to admit what I don’t know

34)  Everyday accomplishments bore me.

35)  I am going to change the world

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31 Responses to “35 Gut Checks When Founding Your First Company”

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Nice list!

Thanks for writing!

“7) Money is not the primary metric by wish I measure my professional success/progress”

I think you meant to type ‘which’ there instead of ‘wish.’ :)

Hey obviously a nice list. I have another one that I believe would be a good addition. #37 My day does not revolve around a clock, or what day of the week it may be, Work is work.

I have seen too many people want to found their own business and work 9 – 5.

Some good conversation on Hacker News (pasted below):

1 point by sid- 1 minute ago | link

I answered no to a couple of them. But more importantly “I am primarily competing against myself” I need people around to compete with to bounce ideas off and raise the bar for each other
reply

7 points by Tichy 2 hours ago | link

[] I can read a 35 bullet points list to the end without getting distracted
reply

2 points by diN0bot 2 hours ago | link

> “I think there is one metric that can be used to measure the value of a human life and that’s impact….(p.s. i don’t use spell check…deal with it)”
??
reply

1 point by holograham 2 hours ago | link

I answer yes to every single one…man I need to get out of my mega-corporation job
reply

1 point by DenisM 1 hour ago | link

well, why didn’t you? Is it lack of savings or lack of confidence or something else?
reply

1 point by z8000 3 hours ago | link

I am exactly in this scenario and answered “no” to only 3 of the statements. Taken at face value that’s pretty encouraging.
reply

2 points by notauser 1 hour ago | link

When I started I failed 3 and 12 very badly:
– I do not need positive reinforcement from others in order to be happy/effective.
– I handle disappointment well.
4 months of repeated failure and rejection has fixed that. I now handle it very well indeed, and every time I fall short it provides me with determination to carry on and do better next time.
I’m still pretty bad at uncertainty, but I’m working on it. It’s really hard to wait for a decision – much harder than dealing with a no (or yes).
I think a lot of the other things on the list, you wouldn’t keep your attributes for long after starting a company. The problem is that you only have so long to change yourself before you run out of time and money.
reply

1 point by jyothi 19 minutes ago | link

I agree esp when you are in trenches with your startup morale does go low. With a very stressful and disappointing one year in 2008 even I said No to 3, 12 & 23.
23) I do not frustrate easily
Getting much better off-late though. Positive reinforcement from your own work works best, even if they are small.
reply

You know me so well.. ;)

Exactly what I was looking for: a list of character traits based on your observation and experience.

Also: I need to work on a few items to which I said no.

I did not understand 15) – the path.

“the path” would be the common path to success. What everyone else does…lawyer/banker/climbing corporate ladder etc

“The Path” is for those who are happy as a cog in the wheel of life!

YUCK!!!!!

Great thoughts Jordan. I’ll add this one:

I believe that failure is just success deferred.

Great List Jordan

This is a very informative list. Especially as many are seeking alternative ways to create income. Thanks for the checklist I will forward this to fellow entrepreneurs as well as friends. Good Job!

[…] 35 Gut Checks When Founding Your First Company If you are thinking about founding your first company, standing at the edge of the entrepreneurial swimming pool, […] […]

I am “the most resourceful creation of God I have ever run into, forever striving not to live a second-hand existence on the fervent recommendation of practically everybody one runs into.”
-Salinger

[…] Mixergy that the thing they really look for is determination and the inner steel to stick it out – Jordan Cooper on 35 gut checks when founding your first company Share and […]

[…] blog by Jordan Cooper titled “35 Gut Checks When Founding Your First Company.”  You can read the entire blog here, and the 35 checks are below.  They all struck me as so very true, especially […]

Yes to all of them except 24) “I exercise regularly”

Damn! When are you supposed to do that?

Great list Jordan, you blatantly know & understand your entrepreneurs.

Awesome post. Thanks.

[…] 35 Gut Checks When Founding Your First Company « Jordan Cooper’s Blog: startups, venture capi…. […]

This is great!

Its printed and pinned to the wall in my office.

Gotta go…I’m changing the world!

[…] Jordan Cooper: 35 attributes that entrepreneurs […]

[…] Jordan Cooper: 35 attributes that entrepreneurs […]

21. I am not intimidated by anyone!

And you can’t be. Ever.

Nice list, Jordan! #10 is not my strength. Thanks for sharing.

Yes to all except #10. We rarely seek out immediate help because we are so confident we can do it ourselves. See #33.

nice post. this is old in web years, but definitely relevant.

I was afraid to say “no” to any of these, but thankfully I said “yes” to all! :)

[…] 23. 35 Gut Checks When Founding Your First Company by Jordan Cooper. […]


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    About

    I’m a NYC based entrepreneur. I think there is one metric that can be used to measure the value of a human life and that’s impact. How did you change things? How many people did you touch? How different is the world because you lived in it and how positive was the change that you affected? (p.s. i don’t use spell check…deal with it) You can email me at Jordan.Cooper@gmail.com

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