The Startup Playbook – Roles of a Founder

Before any other role in your company you are first and foremost a founder. Not the CEO, not the employee, not the executive, and not the face of the company. You are a founder. Understanding that is incredibly important and shapes how you do your job as a founder.

Founder = responsibility.

Initially, you are responsible for the entire company. You are responsible for the team, the product, the successes, and the failures. You are also responsible for the ideal of the company – what it can become and its vision. More than any other role at the beginning of a company the founder’s is the most crucial. Over time, your startup team will take over a number of these roles, but you’ll still want to be involved and oversee to the extent that it makes sense.

We describe in detail what it is like to be a founder in our book, The Startup Playbook. Below we paraphrase some of the key concepts from the book on the roles of a founder.

A founder has four major roles to pay inside of a company.

First and foremost they are the emotional heart of a company. The company often feels what the founder’s feel. Their ups and downs are mimicked by the company.

Second, they are the cultural leader. The employees of a company won’t do as they are told, they will do as the founder does. The founder sets the cultural tone for the organization.

Third, the founder(s) are the visionaries of the company. They are ones directing where the company will go and why this new concept is innovative and necessary in the market.

Fourth, at least early on, the founder is also in charge of execution. Without a complete management team or startup team, the founding team is responsible to run the company.

As a founder, your job is to get the company to a self-sustainable level. That means building a company that has a foundation to operate on its own. Ideally you’ll build a company that is profitable and growing well. This gives you and your founding team a number of options. You can hire a management team to help and support you. In fact, you may hire a team before the company is self-sustaining and with an eye towards making it self-sustaining. Regardless of your overall path, the founding team needs to play these roles and more.

We dive deeper into the roles and responsibilities of founders in our book, The Startup Playbook. Grab a copy today to learn more.

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