Startup founders are the new leaders and role models of Singapore.
We envy them for million dollar fundings, and the milestones they’ve achieved, while we ourselves find ourselves floundering from our own commitments.
But as we see them proudly in the media spotlight for their next win, we end up building an image of them as these charming individuals, unafraid of failure with go-getter attitudes. Everything that makes up a successful individual, but how much of these are accurate?
So we decided to compile traits of what people perceive startup founders to be, and then we brought this list to actual founders.
1. We Are Risk-Takers
That being said, Cameron Priest emphasises the need for founders to “do everything in their power to limit risk.”
Daniel Lim of The Playbook also adds that “a common misconception is the idea of a risk-taking daredevil. It’s not as if [we] are going at this YOLO.
There’s always a need for a healthy risk appetite, [but] entrepreneurs take time to understand the probabilities of success and failures and so on.”
He further adds that many think enterprise is difficult because of the risks, but “anyone with a keen eye for studying a market and doing research to calculate risks, and make a decision of it, can be an entrepreneur.”
2. We Can ‘Shake Leg’ Living The High Life
“The public seems to perceive flying for work as being “cool” and “extravagant”.
But at ShopBack, all jet-setters practise an unspoken rule of first flight in, last flight out, all on budget airlines. Costs and time are both scarce so that’s the only aspect right about that myth – high in altitude.”
Given ShopBack‘s success, the co-founders also often hear a public consensus that “ShopBack is already ‘there'”. But they admit that they are far from achieving this metaphorical ‘there’.
“[We] can’t just delegate work, sit back and relax.”
Growing a company is never easy, “the more people you have, the more you need to do. There’s a lot more at stake than before, [and that] translates to more hours of even harder work.”
3. We Are Demanding Bosses
As mentioned by Yunnie Tan of Miraculove, “when you are with a hand-picked team who’s motivated and driven, you don’t need a whip because if you love what you do, it’s never going to feel like work.”
CEO and co-founder of Fynd Albert Tirtohadi also reflects these sentiments with his take on finding that right team.
“You can put a naturally hard working person in any kind of organization, and the person will be hard working still. Because it is who they are. We always try to hire “do-ers”. We don’t need to put in too much effort in motivating them, but rather directing them to the right things.
Sometimes what we really need to do as leaders is just to avoid de-motivate our people by coming up with silly policies and decisions.”
4. We Are Not Afraid To Fail
Sitting down with Daniel Lim of The Playbook, he ruminates on the misconception that “entrepreneurs are not afraid of failure.”
“One shouldn’t see failure as a reason to stop, because failure can bring with it lessons and experience to help one become a better person and entrepreneur, but I don’t think anyone can possibly be completely unafraid of it.
His words are mirrored by Pei Wen, co-founder at Share Food Singapore, as she notes “making mistakes and learning from it is part of growing up.”
“We are afraid of making mistakes because they give our clients the feeling that we are untrustworthy and unable to help them [but] there are definitely things we wouldn’t mind learning through mistakes“.
5. We Don’t Settle For Less
According to Violet Lim of Lunch Actually, founders often hear that they should “only hire the best and nothing less, but that’s tough because the crème de la crème is more likely to join MNCs, investment banks or management consultancy firms.”
At the end of the day, the idea that founders are only looking for the best is a misconception as “sometimes, the option that makes more sense is to hire B players with excellent attitude that has the potential to become A players.”
We Are Somewhat Misunderstood
Sometimes, founders may shock us for their bold decisions and their desires to overturn the status quo, coupled with some toe-stepping along the way.
And while it has to be said that not all founders are easy to get along with, it does not mean they are all difficult people. It’s easy to paint a picture of stereotypes about startup founders from what we perceive from the media, but as Violet Lim puts it, “we can be friendly, humble, down to earth and nice too!”
Featured Image Credit: Hnworth, Share Food Singapore, justdelegate, The Playbook Team, techtradeasia.