Survey a group of founders about the characteristics that contributed to their success, and they'll be quick to use words like determination and sacrifice. Others might show more humility, pointing to traits like curiosity, faith, or a willingness to learn. Still, others will credit dumb luck, good timing, or the hard work and support of others.

Amid the wide range of possible answers, there is one personality trait that most successful business founders have in common: discipline.

Specifically, they have the discipline to stick to their original vision despite the temptation to veer off course, ignoring whatever shiny ball demands their attention to focus on what they set out to do.

Steve Jobs, the legendary co-founder of Apple, said it best:

"People think focus means saying yes to the thing you've got to focus on. But that's not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I'm actually as proud of the things we haven't done as the things we have done. Innovation is saying no to one thousand things."


How Saying No Led to a 7-Figure Exit

Andy Cabasso studied law at university but never really practiced. Instead, he co-founded JurisPage in 2013, an agency specializing in marketing for law firms.

Cabasso understood the marketing services lawyers needed, and his partner, Sam Brodie, knew how to build websites that ranked on Google. Their service became popular among lawyers, attracting the attention of other service businesses in need of organically-ranking websites. Cabasso and Brodie were tempted to wander outside their niche, but they ultimately turned down the opportunity to work with other types of companies, knowing they had something unique to offer lawyers.

They also knew the importance of recurring revenue, so they insisted that their clients use JurisPage for website hosting, giving the partners a recurring revenue base. Prospects offered JurisPage thousands of dollars to build them a website for someone else to host, but Cabasso turned them down, knowing that the recurring website hosting revenue was a fundamental component to building a valuable business.

In the end, Cabasso and Brodie's discipline paid off when they attracted the attention of Uptime Legal, an Inc. 5000 business specializing in technology and practice management software for law firms. The two companies fit together like peanut butter and jelly – which is why Uptime Legal acquired JurisPage in a seven-figure deal that closed in 2016.

The moral? While curiosity and grit are essential personality traits for any would-be founder, the ability to remain disciplined in the face of opportunity may be the most important attribute of all.

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Hallie Knox
Post by Hallie Knox
July 20, 2023
Hallie Knox graduated from Seattle Pacific University with a Bachelors in English Literature, and quickly followed her passion for words and story into a career in content writing. She's loved working on everything from blog posts to marketing emails to internal reports for clients in consulting, education, tech, and beyond. Hallie has been involved in various writing projects for Acumen since April 2022, and is thrilled to officially join the team as our Content Writer! Aside from her writing and editing work, Hallie spent a few years as a literacy and special education teacher, and continues to serve part-time as an educator for a fully outdoor forest school on the side. A "missionary kid" who grew up moving all over Europe, Asia, and the Balkans, she is now settled in Boise, Idaho, where she reads avidly, cooks experimentally, attends St. Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church, and spends time with her twin daughters, husband, and their two big goofy dogs.