Founders of entrepreneurial-led businesses offer different job prospects, career paths and workplace experiences to traditional well established organisations.
Understanding the mind-set of a founder and the benefits of working with them can help you decide if you want to be part of their unique growth journey.
I have had the rare privilege over the years to work up-close with many founders.
I have learned a great deal from every one of them and have tried to transfer their experiences and wisdom to my own business with The Winning Formula.
Let’s start by saying ‘it’s not easy being a founder’.
They experience more emotional highs and lows in the commercial world than any other group of business leaders I’ve ever met.
Chief Executives and senior managers may feel that they carry a huge burden and responsibility with them when asked to lead large corporate organisations, but the pressures involved are different and less.
Compensation packages, garden leave and the notice periods available to the corporate leader cushion the fall for many who struggle or fail.
Founders however, walk the tightrope each and every day of their growth journey, often without a safety net or parachute payment to help them should they slip up along the way.
Describing founders as courageous doesn’t begin to do them justice.
Founders are the rarest of rare leaders
Founders are the rarest of rare leaders in the business world. They operate like a hybrid – part hunter, part gatherer, and always part survivor.
They rarely admit it, but survival forms a major part of their commercial DNA from an early stage on their growth journey.
Followed closely by a ‘fear of failure’.
The need to constantly evolve is a natural and ‘must have’ part of their nature. Growth is a driver. Change is a constant. Innovation is critical. Flexibility is a given. Multi-skilling is a necessity if survival is to be achieved, particularly in the early years of their business.
Mistakes are made each and every day of the founders working lives. If they are lucky, the cost of each error will prove to be nothing less than a valuable lesson learned on their journey.
Rarely will they make the same mistake twice. Any financial cost will hopefully be minimal and never drastic enough to affect the desire to deliver their ambitious plans for the business.
Under achievement will culminate in their demise – the equivalent of the business Dodo – an outcome they fear more than any other leader.
To paraphrase Winston Churchill, ‘Doing your best is not enough. You have to do what is necessary.’
For many founders, work/life balance doesn’t enter their minds. They live, breathe and eat their unique journey. And they wouldn’t have it any other way.
Being a founder does have its up side.
It’s often an exciting period in their life. Personal ambition and business vision are powerful drivers.
Each day brings with it new challenges as they travel to their targeted ‘commercial mines’ armed with the entrepreneurial tools necessary to seek out clients for their products and services. The ‘size of the opportunity’ is compelling and keeps them motivated on the journey.
Their pioneering attitude and approach enables them to stake their claim in their marketplace.
The penalties for failure can be brutal, but the prizes on offer for those who make it to their destination on the business growth journey are enormous.
Success on the journey brings riches beyond the wildest dreams of even the most ambitious founder.
The mark of a great founder
Like any other type of high-performing professional operating in the workplace, great founders exist and differentiate themselves from other founders.
The knowledge gained on the growth journey and the lessons learned along the way enable great founders – at the appropriate time – to pass on their wisdom and experience to others. This is important if they wish to see their business continue to grow and prosper.
Many founders realise this, but sadly it’s often too late to use their experience in a positive manner on the journey.
Great founders on the other hand, realise the importance of transferring wisdom quicker than others.
Working with a great founder is an extremely rare and rewarding experience for everyone connected with the business.
It’s not always easy working with them.
Great founders are often demanding, challenging, impatient and unpredictable. They can be obsessive regarding the small things, the attention-to-detail and the commitment needed to create the sustainable business they dream of.
Great founders don’t suffer fools and they don’t hold grudges. They do though expect as a minimum standard from you to be professional, passionate about their proposition and committed to the journey. If not you are wasting their time and the time of others.
Working with a great founder has many benefits
Great founders are generous individuals. They respect the contribution and sacrifices made by others on behalf of their company. Reward plays an important part in the way they recognise performance and loyalty in the workplace.
You are more likely to receive greater responsibility and get promoted quicker if you perform well under the leadership of a great founder.
If you are creative or can demonstrate entrepreneurial flair, your talent will be identified and your potential will be realised with a great founder.
You will learn and earn more when you work with a great founder. Maximising your talent and earning potential is important to retaining you on their journey.
Being part of a growing business led by a great founder is an adventure and a workplace experience enjoyed by very few individuals.
If you currently work with a great founder be thankful. Celebrate it. Don’t take it for granted.
If you are ambitious, don’t be modest. Play a more active role in supporting the great founder. Understand the journey and be clear about the destination. Work out how you can make a significant personal contribution.
Great founders realise they cannot reach their destination on their own. They need you and they need others like you. Prepare for the challenge and prepare to be challenged.
Working with a great founder is a bit like doing a professional bungee jump – scary, energising, but ultimately fulfilling.
The business growth journey led by a great founder is one of life’s great journeys.
Their journey and your journey are inextricably linked.
Working with a great founder will change your life for the better.
Help them to ‘Build the Pyramid’.
I guarantee you. You won’t be disappointed.
Best wishes on your journey, wherever it may take you.