It is almost impossible to separate founders from their startups, since they are practically synonymous. ‘Startup founder’ conjures up a picture in most people’s minds. They are larger-than-life personalities, misfits, rebels. They embody traits that are essential to their success: emotional stamina, a never-say-die attitude. Sometimes these same characteristics limit a founder, and even sink what was an excellent company.
Startups need founders. They don’t need managers or CEOs; those roles are better suited to the corporate world, where the business model has been proven and the company has transitioned to an operational focus. A startup is a transitional entity in search of a scalable, repeatable, profitable business model. It’s a journey of enquiry and constant adjustment. And that journey needs a leader — someone with the passion, drive and energy to lead and inspire a team.
Founders are important because they create a shared vision and articulate a clear mission — and they usually embody that vision. No one will be as passionate or enthusiastic about what a startup is trying to achieve than its founder. A startup is usually birthed by a founder trying to scratch an itch or solve a problem they care about. That is why it is usually a huge mistake for boards and investors to throw out founders. Even though it is a mistake that boards and venture capitalists often make.
Steve Jobs is often quoted as saying, ‘Why join the navy if you ...