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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Who’s the Boss?

Entrepreneurs start companies for a wide range of reasons.  Many have the desire to stop working for someone else and to be a business owner, a boss, or CEO.  They have identified a technology or service that they are passionate about and want to see it all the way to market.  They desire to a meaningful part of something and to have the pride that goes with building a business.

As a founder, the first issue you should be aware of is that you will always have a boss.  It may be clients, customers, shareholders, or a Board of Directors.  You will be run something but you will always have to answer to someone.  No business runs in a vacuum without interaction of others.  That said, as a boss you do have to make many important decisions every day.

 “Who is the Boss” is more the question of whether you as the founder want to or should be the boss.  The skill set to run a business can be learned.  Some take to it quickly and others suffer and never really do a great job as the leader.  The ability to coordinate activities and make strategic decisions may not be your strong suite. 

Early on, you may be the only employee.  By default, you run everything.  As the business grows (or if you have more than one founder), decisions will become more complex as will the stresses.  It is best for all, if  you consider the needs of most senior manager of your business early and plan  accordingly.  Don’t get into a trap of running something when that is not your desire or if it does not play to your strengths.

The point of this discussion is to get you to think about what you want, what is best for the business, and what management planning should be developed early.  Running a company can be taxing, just decide early on if this is right for you.  Things to consider

Desire – Do you want to run something?  The first area of concern is whether you really want to be the person running a business.  Just because you are a founder does not mean you have or want to develop the skill set to run a business.  Nor does it mean you want the responsibility.  Make sure you think ahead as to whether you want to run the business and plan accordingly.  Don’t confuse business owner with the person that runs the business.   Even if you are a 100% owner, you can hire someone to run the business.  It is still your business and you made the executive decision that the business would grow better with someone else in charge. 

Skills- Do you have skills or ability to learn to run something?  Organizational skills are natural to many people.  There are some that do everything spur of the moment, last minute, and/or never organize anything.  Try to assess your skill set and determine if you can organize, prioritize, develop a team willing to follow you, and manage finances.  Evaluate your strengths and determine your strengths and weaknesses.  Should you decide to run the business, consider hiring an advisor or a staff member to help with your weak skills.

Business – What is best for the business? One of your considerations is what is best to make the business grow?  Your thoughts and ultimate decision may be one of your first strategic actions to take on behalf of the company.  If you are unsure of yourself, don’t like to be in front of people and answer tough questions, or you are unwilling to take the heat when a bad event happens in the company, the business may do much better with someone else in charge.  The job of the person running the business is complex, but the most important task is increasing the value of the business.  You may have the desire and skills, but you may still not have the personality to be the one to run the business. 

This list is to get you thinking. It does not include everything you should consider.  The point of the whole article is to get you to consider if running something and being the CEO/Boss, is what you want and if it is good for the business as well.


  Taffy Williams is the author of:  Think Agile:  How Smart Entrepreneurs Adapt in Order to Succeed to via Amazon