How Important Is It To Define The Roles of the Founder in a Start-up?
They are the movers and shakers of the business world. They come up with the ideas that change the world. They are the proverbial path breakers of the business world. They are the true blue entrepreneurs, the founders of startups who write the stories that span from the garage to Wall Street.
The question is where does their role begin and end in a company? It is vitally important to define their roles so that they don’t end up killing the company as well as their careers.
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At every phase of the business, the founder has to re-define his roles.
Phase 1: The Obsessed Dreamer
“There is no greater thing you can do with your life and your work than follow your passions – in a way that serves the world and you.” – Sir Richard Branson
Laying foundations of a new business and growing it is an arduous journey. It is probably one of the hardest things that anyone could do. A startup usually begins with an innovative idea, a lot of passion and a man crazy enough to throw caution to the wind, the founder. He is the company. For the first few years, the business runs on his energy. He builds his team through his contagious passion, and like-minded people, typically friends, batch mates and colleagues join in and the gang is ready.
Phase 2: The Pirate
“It’s more fun to be a pirate than join the navy.” – Steve Jobs
These guys drop out of the navy called the corporate workforce and became the pirates. Like the captain of the ship, the founder is destined to sink and swim with the startup, he controls each and every aspect from marketing to finance, to quality control. The handpicked team has a Spartan spirit and loyalty and they go challenge the navy. This is the most fun part of any founder’s journey.
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Phase 3: The Delegator/Evangelist
The inability to delegate is one of the biggest problems I see with managers at all levels.” – Eli Broad
This comes from the only man in business who created two Fortune 500 companies in two different industries.
If a start-up picks up the pace with time and metamorphs itself into something big, it becomes mandatory to have a bigger team and delegate. The founder has to go through the difficult task of giving up the controls. Understandably most of the startup founders find it hard. However, they should give up the cruise control of day to day operations and then go on to the strategic side. This can be a critical phase which would determine the growth of the company and the future of the founder. They have to invest their time and energy attracting clients and investors. Remember Sachin Bansal who vacated the hot CEO seat for Binny Bansal, so that he could focus on Flipkart’s strategic directions, mentoring senior leadership and looking for new investment opportunities? That’s how it’s done!
Phase 4: The Captain/Mentor:
“If I hadn’t had mentors, I wouldn’t be here today. I’m a product of great mentoring” – Indra Nooyi (CEO PepsiCo)
So, with passion, he created a company and it runs well. It found venture capital and then went public and the founder made enough money to retire rich and sip Pina Coladas on a beach for the rest of his life. However, if he is a typical startup entrepreneur, he won’t be happy with the Pina Colada lifestyle. He will either choose to become captain of the bigger ship as the CEO. Or, if too burned out for day to day things, will become a part of the board, where he will always have a special say in the affairs of the business.
Well, the founders have to evolve with times and define and re-define their roles.
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