The movie "The Social Network" is worth studying closely.
The storyteller reveals his version of the behavioral character that is deep inside the movie's version of the stakeholders of Facebook. Much of it is not flattering. Damning some will say.
Character is what you do when you think no one else is watching.
It is what you do when your guts are turning over from fear or lust.
Knowing how you will behave when your startup is going to crash, perhaps fatally, is central to knowing your character.
Bad things are going to come (with the good). You'll have to make a decision about what to do to whom at that time. Founders fire co-founders who are/were best of friends. Investors fire founders and deeply dilute employee's ownership in favor of investors. Customers cancel orders for no good reason. Employees sabotage R&D equipment. Cash rich competitors file frivolous, expensive patent lawsuits that sink hot startups that are taking business away from the rich company. The list goes on and on. I've been on the firing line when all of the above have happened. Those are the times when I see first hand what the character is made of in the founder CEO.
Yes, a lot of good happens as well. Sun does shine in startup land. But a day relaxing on the beach does not reveal a person's character. Rain and storms and rotten days do.
Your character is of top importance to your future stakeholders. Investors, employees and strategic partners want to know for instance if you can be trusted. Do you do what you say you will do (without a signed forty page legal contract)? Do you lie? Do you tell tall tales? Do you deliver on your promises?
Modern capitalism is founded on trust. You can't run a business using legal contracts for managing everything. The world changes too fast. Startups are the fastest changing form of business. Founders are counted on to deliver amazing results under demanding, changing circumstances. It's like building a bicycle while riding it at sixty miles per hour. Trust is crucial to employees and investors of startups.
A few people can be rewarded and go a long time without a dependable character. History books are full of the frauds and their perpetrators. But they eventually were found out and put out of circulation. The same goes for founders of startups: eventually their character will be judged. Someone eventually tells what really happened behind closed doors.
The reason I am today sounding so douer is because you have to be prepared for how you will behave when you have troubling decisions to make. If you are uncomfortable doing that, wait a few years before doing your startup. Wisdom is gained in the school of hard knocks, over time.
BOTTOM LINE: Knowing how you will behave when crushing blows hit your startup is central to knowing your character. That will become your distinguishing mark. It will brand you. People will recall mostly how you acted when all hell broke loose. Not how brilliantly you guided the ship on a calm day. When your character is prepared to deliver decisions under duress, decisions which are admariable and ethical, you are on your way to qualifying to do a startup. Your character will become an asset instead of a liability and will contribute to founding your unfair advantage.
I wish you The Best on your Adventure!