The Big 5 is one of the most widely used groupings of personality traits in modern psychology. It is derived using statistical factor analysis on personality surveys, which reveal semantic associations between the words people use to describe other people’s personalities.
In other words, when people talk about another person’s personality, all the different terms they use can be grouped into five categories, each representing a spectrum or continuum of common temperamental traits.
Ever since succeed as a startup founder is without a doubt a very challenging undertaking, it is important to be familiar with your own character and understand how to channel your strengths and counter your weaknesses.
So, here’s how the big 5 personality traits help or hinder startup founders:
Tendency to be organized and reliable. On one side of the scale are highly organized and efficient people, on the other – carefree and easygoing people.
The two generally accepted facets of the quality of conscientiousness are diligence and orderliness.
As is the case with most non-artistic professional environments, a high degree of diligence is important for long-term success as a startup founder. Unscrupulous founders tend to abandon projects if their enthusiasm wanes or to be thrown into chaos if they are not methodical enough to handle their to-do list efficiently enough.
If you’re not conscientious, it might be a good idea to find a co-founder or partner who is. In this way, you can rely on them to help you move forward when your internal motivation is not enough.
While a lack of orderliness can be compensated for by external factors, this is more difficult to do at low levels of activity. Being a successful founder requires an action-oriented, can-do attitude. If you are not a problem solver by nature, you have to work actively to acquire this trait, otherwise you will find the daily life of a founder a challenge.
A pleasant person tends to be compassionate and polite, while an unpleasant person is more comfortable with interpersonal conflicts.
In reality, a good startup team needs people at both ends of the spectrum.
That said, being an innovator by definition means doing something that other people aren’t doing. That’s why many people would tell you that what you want to do can’t or shouldn’t be done. So it’s important not to worry too much about people’s general opinion (while listening carefully to rational feedback, of course).
Plus, as a team leader, you often had hard conversations with your team members about salary, performance, and even team membership. If you are a very compassionate person, such situations can become emotionally draining.
Openness is the degree of intellectual curiosity, creativity and most importantly – preference for novelty.
Obviously, being a startup founder requires a high degree of openness. Being comfortable with novelty is crucial as novelty would be your everyday life if you want to be an innovator.
If you’re naturally too cautious and need routine and stability to feel good, then you probably wouldn’t have the risk tolerance that would help you deal with the highly volatile nature of startups.
Highly neurotic people are more prone to nervousness and anxiety.
Needless to say, startups are often very insecure professional environments, which can of course lead to high levels of stress for more neurotic people.
This doesn’t mean that being neurotic makes you unfit for a founder. It can even help in certain situations – it can prompt you to address risk factors that other people would ignore.
That said, it could mean that if you’re naturally neurotic, anything considered founder can be an emotionally unpleasant experience. This can reduce your overall quality of life. You have to decide whether it is worth dealing with the stress levels.
Extraversion is the tendency to seek the company of others.
Being very outgoing helps a lot in one area – staying in constant contact with your customers, partners and other stakeholders. Obviously, being a high extroversion means you’d be much more comfortable selling your ideas and products to hundreds of people – something you as a founder should be doing.
At the same time, this does not mean that introverts are hopeless founders. Some of the best tech innovators (interested in things rather than people) are introverted people. Bill Gates, for example, is a self-proclaimed introvert.
That said, being low on the extroversion scale means you should be stepping out of your comfort zone on a daily basis.
For better or for worse, people-oriented activities such as sales and people management are an integral part of being a founder.