Guide: Founders Roles

As part of the vision you set, you’ll also need to decide what role you’ll play in achieving it.

As an employee it’s pretty simple – you accept a role, and apply for/accept/create new ones as the opportunities come along. However, as an owner you make the decision on where you fit in the organisational chart. Generally in small and medium businesses, there is only one question and two options you have:

Q: To be the leader, or to appoint a leader?
  1. Be the boss – the leader, the top of the chart.  The buck stops with you, both the good and bad.
  2. Be a technician – the functional area that you love most, or can add the most value to whether it’s sales, marketing, design, accounting, production,
    or anything else.

This critical question will arguably have more impact on the business’ growth path than any other decision, as leaders can be visionaries who take the business forwards to conquer new frontiers, or bottlenecks who restrict it from ever reaching any kind of critical mass or momentum.

In the start-up phase, you generally have no choice of course as you can’t afford someone senior with the necessary skills to perform the top role, but as the business grows and becomes more profitable this option will become available to you if you want it, or need it.

Trying to grow your business at 100% each year is hard, but what’s even harder is trying to grow yourself at 100% each year! Both are possible though, especially for leaders who are on board with those three key concepts: market- led growth, objective view, and behavioural change.

On the flipside, there is nothing to be ashamed about if you’re not the person for the job. Some of the greatest business owners have realised early on that everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and that they were better placed elsewhere in the organisation e.g. Steve Wozniak co-founded Apple with Steve Jobs and is worth more than $100 million, but was always happiest being the computer technician.