Confidence vs. Arrogance in Entrepreneurs

arrogance in entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs tend to be arrogant. This sounds rather like a criticism, but it’s more a statement of fact and a caution.

Arrogance:

An attitude of people who believe that they are better, smarter, or more important than other people.

Isn’t this the definition of an entrepreneur?

I once gave a talk to aspiring startup business owners. During the discussion, one of the participants stated, “You think you are always right!” After a short pause I said, “You are absolutely correct.”

How could any entrepreneur not have that belief?

Why would you ever start a business if you didn’t think you were “right”? If you didn’t think that you were smarter than the next guy, that you saw an opportunity not recognized in the market, why would you risk your money on a new venture? If you have just had a venture fail, why would you start another if you didn’t think you had a solution to a problem that you could monetize?

More important, why would anyone fund a company whose founder didn’t “know” they had the right product to solve a critical problem for which the demand was compelling and profitable? Having said this, there is caution inherent in believing you are “right” all of the time.

It is the fact that you simply are not! No one is.

If you are not careful, your string of victories can lead you to believe you are infallible. You begin to exude an attitude that you feel you really are better or smarter or more important than other people. This will create the impression that you are not coachable, which is one of the seven signs of a failing company.

More often than not, you will have to bring in key players that know things you don’t. This could be legal counsel, technical support, or an advisory board. In fact, “They” are smarter than you in some way or you would not call them in. If you are over-bearing or controlling you can erode the relationship or stifle critical input. Either way, you will not be able to capitalize on that resource which will inevitably constrain your ability to maximize the potential of your company.

Moreover, when you are seeking funding or negotiating the sale of your company, you need to recognize and be able to be able to deal with the fact that the people sitting across the table believe they are the smartest guys in the room. It would be a serious if not fatal mistake to try to dissuade them of that notion.

In fact at that point, they are really the most important people present.
They hold the potential keys to your success.

Founders, do you have an exit strategy?


Dave Clark

Dave Clark taught Strategy at West Point and is a co-founder of FundingSage, which provides valuable information, tools and resources to entrepreneurs seeking to start, grow and fund a business.