INNOVATE

Why Founders Who Lack This 1 Trait Are Doomed to Fail

The most inspiring stories of entrepreneurship all come down to a single word.

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BY James Ledbetter - 30 Jun 2018

CREDIT: Shayan Asgharnia

One of the most inspiring elements of Inc.'s annual conferences is hearing tales of tenacity from company founders who refuse to give up. Some of these stories get told onstage, like Slack co-founder Cal Henderson's describing, at this year's GrowCo conference, how a failed video game business turned into a multibillion-dollar software empire. But we hear just as many from attendees, like Merrill Crawford, who runs a successful plumbing company in Houston. Finding clients, Crawford says, is easy; finding good plumbers is much harder. Her hiring needs are so urgent that she has gone well beyond traditional recruitment channels; indeed, she is looking to retain an ad agency to help convince would-be employees that her business is a great place to work.

This issue of Inc. is similarly loaded with such stories. In our annual How I Did It package, you'll meet courageous entrepreneurs like Moe Momtazi, a winemaker who escaped from Iran's dictatorship with his very pregnant wife, each on a motorcycle. And Jamie Siminoff, the founder of Ring, who knew he couldn't give up on his business, because he'd be dead broke and unable to provide for his family. He sold his company to Amazon this year, reportedly for more than $1 billion. And, of course, our cover subject, Alli Webb, who went into business with her brother despite their parents' warnings. Drybar is now a nationwide sensation that recently opened its 100th store.

The founders of HelloFresh have also been tenacious. It is a supreme challenge for a non-U.S. company to enter the American market and beat out well-funded domestic incumbents (in this case, Blue Apron, Plated, and others). In the feature story by editor-at-large Burt Helm, you will learn just how driven and resourceful a company needs to be to become No. 1 in its category. The fact that the meal-kit business presents specific headaches, including logistics and customer churn, makes the accomplishment even more remarkable.

There are dozens of qualities needed to make a business survive and grow. Too often, the public focuses on the wisdom of a CEO or the access to capital. But without tenacity, many of those other qualities won't matter much. At Inc., we're proud to celebrate the tenacity of all the founders in this issue--and yours, too.

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