I recently heard Chris Heivly co-founder of MapQuest talk about incubators and start-ups.  With 23 companies on his resume, he’s learned a few things about what makes a good business leader or entrepreneurs and what doesn’t: 
  • The better leaders embrace and consume every piece of relevant information from a wide variety of mentors. The others skip opportunities to meet with new mentors.
  • The not-ready-for-prime-time leaders seem to focus on the wrong things for their business–even after that problem is brought to their attention.
  • The best teams operate as teams continually. They evaluate what needs to be done and allocate tasks appropriately. There are no operational titles.
  • Some founding teams attempt to operate their start-up more like a mature business, spending time discussing issues they will probably never get to. It’s ridiculous when leaders who have produced absolutely nothing spend days crafting a culture treatise, detailed funding plans and defining their philosophy on hiring.
  • A few founders have an unbalanced view of business and place too much value on money or technology at the expense of the business model. 
  • Good leaders create continuous business momentum. Momentum is contagious. It creates positive mojo, which flows outside of the founding team to potential hires, interns, customers, partners, and investors.

Let’s learn from experience.