In my recent post Seven Founding Sins, I outlined a number of potential mistakes that founders commit that can limit the success of their endeavor. However, I thought that I would balance that post with a positive one. Despite the many similar lists (here and here) detailing how to know that you are an entrepreneur, I wanted to share my own thoughts on the great reasons to become one. I could argue that the title “Founder” is the best one in the world to have, and the following are a few reasons why (from my own perspective).
Creation. The essence of a founder’s job is to create something where there was previously nothing. An idea becomes a plan; a plan produces a product; a product launches a company. To me, the notion of conceiving and building something both tangible and real is paramount.
Evangelizing. From the second that a founder begins to craft something, his/her job is to spread the word – to potential co-founders, employees, customers, investors, etc. What could be better than talking about something which you are building and are truly excited about with as many people possible?
Variety. The title “Founder” is function-agnostic. Sure, someone may be a technical founder or a founder with expertise & a formal leadership role in another function (sales, marketing, etc.), but during those exciting early days everyone is wearing many different hats. The diversity in the tasks required of someone in this role necessitates that there is rarely a dull moment.
Upside. Most great founders aren’t solely motivated by money, as there are many intrinsic rewards for choosing this path (and probably other better risk-adjusted ways to generate personal wealth). But I think that financial upside absolutely is – and should be – a key component for any founder motivations. It’s no secret that the rewards for successful founders can be land somewhere between generous and astronomical.
Control. Many jobs leave the much of one’s destiny to the group he/she works in, the company he/she works for, etc. Obviously, there are extraneous unmalleable factors with everything in life, career paths are no exception. But a founder is in a unique position to be largely in control of his/her own destiny like few other roles allow.
Passion. A founder with authenticity (see founding sin #1) doesn’t just conceptually understand the problem being solved or value being created, he/she believes and knows it. This deeper resonance produces a reward and benefit that potentially overshadows the others.
People. Someone once defined entrepreneur to me as “Someone who creates with resources that aren’t under his/her direct control.” (Anyone know the source of this?). And while a founder does have more control than those in many other positions, he/she ultimately relies on other people. A founder must recruit in, and then rely on, every single person and constituency who can affect his/her company’s success. And I think that’s great.