This Blog post was written for The Unreasonable Blog was first published there on 25 September 2015. You can read the original post by clicking on this link.
There’s a common start-up fable that goes like this:
Entrepreneurs start company. Company becomes successful and attracts investment. Investors become board members and advise entrepreneurs to hire “experienced” managers with big CVs to take on functional roles like “marketing.” Company becomes “corporatized,” and entrepreneurs feel like outsiders in their own company. Entrepreneurs see the writing on the wall, become defensive, and try to hold onto control. Conflict escalates and company struggles to grow. Entrepreneurs leave company—often by force and with a lot of regret. Company survives but becomes mediocre and never realizes its original vision.
Sound familiar? You may have heard of a term (probably from investors and academics) called “Founder’s Syndrome” that describes a start-up’s inability to break through because of founders not ceding control fast enough and stalling growth.
This term unfairly pushes all the blame on the entrepreneur—ever heard of “Investor’s Syndrome”?
What is actually going on here is a failure by all parties to understand, appreciate, and purposefully unleash the “Founder Magic” that all entrepreneurs possess.