7 Roles Every Startup Founder Must Learn to Play
An entrepreneur needs to be a jack of all trades to become an expert of one. Adaptability is essential. You rarely stumble upon a formula that works—it requires dedication, flexibility, and the willingness to jump into a new role at the drop of a hat.
A startup founder needs zest and passion. The job is to inspire, lead, and motivate a team, getting a whole army of people to believe in your idea as much as you do. This sense of belief is paramount. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, said it best: “Chase the vision, not the money: the money will end up following you.” Believe in what you do and create direction with vision.
Money matters, especially when it’s not your own. When you keep shareholders and investors abreast of the good and the bad, you gain respect and enthusiasm that spurs you on to greater success. As Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley said on the role of Informer, “There are a thousand lessons that we’ve learned… and perhaps the most important of those is to be clear to investors about what the company will do and will not do, and be open about the priorities of the things that have to get done.”
The Money Manager
This isn’t rocket science. Running a startup means acting as bank manager and clerk. It’s your job to manage revenue, investments, and expenses, plus weigh competing resources against each other in order to grow your business.
Whether you’re pitching to investors, recruiting new employees, working to retain the talent you’ve got, or just having a drink in a bar, you need to sell your vision 24/7. Consistent self-belief is crucial even on your worst days. By exuding confidence in yourself and your product, you inspire the kind of excitement that leads to investment. Tap into your circle of influence, expand your profile, and feed your brand reputation. It doesn’t hurt to have a tangible marketing tool like a mobile app builder that fits in the palm of your hand and works for you wherever you are.
Take an active role in mapping out the business for the present, the immediate future, and the long-term. Provide vision and direction for others to place their faith in. This calls for strategic thinking and openness to criticism, particularly when things don’t go according to plan.
The buck stops with you. One of the most high-pressured roles, you must accept it to succeed. Get comfortable evaluating options, weighing potentials, and making the tough calls. More importantly, don’t wait for decisive moments to arrive—go out and find them. The more proactive your mindset, the more likely you are to make the right move.
Seeking out constructive criticism helps you hone in on success. As Elon Musk advised, “Take as much feedback from as many people as you can about whatever idea you have… Seek critical feedback. Ask them what’s wrong. You often have to draw it out in a nuanced way to figure out what’s wrong.” Your role as Responder depends on your skills as listener.
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If you’re thinking of starting a business, ditch the hat rack; you’ll be wearing them all. It’s the thrill and the consequence of entrepreneurship—the opportunity to be everything at once.