Why employees need to think like founders

November 1, 2022
Business Growth

According to Daniel Marcos at the Growth Institute, more founders need to get their employees to act like founders. His point is that because three of the top five issues keeping founders awake at night are people issues (see the list below), the solution is people who think like founders. Other explanations and solutions are available.

Daniel’s list of the five things keeping founders awake:  

  1. Hiring and retaining great people.
  1. Supply chain and inflation challenges.
  1. Building and maintaining a strong culture to keep people engaged and growing.
  1. The speed of innovation and how technology is changing every industry.
  1. Burnout and mental/physical health (both for you and your team).

This list – and the idea of getting employees to think more like founders – has echoes of Gino Wickman’s common entrepreneurial frustrations, which includes things like “why does no one else care as much as I do?”, “why can’t I make more profit?” and “why can’t this business grow beyond a certain point?”

How to make employees really care  

Getting employees to care that bit more, to recreate even a fraction of a founder's desire is hard at the best of times. Building a team that will adopt your ruthless focus on growth and profit could be beneficial. How often does your average employee start the day with a question of how they can minimise spend and maximise revenue?

It makes sense that getting the team to bring more of a founder’s passion, energy and commitment to the table more often can only be a positive, right?

Well, yes and no. Here at Helm, we love founders. We are, after all, a community of founders of fast-growth businesses worth more than £1m.

But many founders we know would admit that sometimes they can be a touch unpredictable and erratic. Yes, Mr Musk we’ve got one eye on you and your sink. That’s fine, because it’s that little spark of crazy – let's call it flair - that makes people want to launch and grow a business in the first place.

Those that really want to thrive and succeed recognise it works best when they have structures and people in place to counter some of what might be called that founder magic.  

Success hangs in the balance

As with most things in life, it’s a question of balance. You don’t need a team stuffed full of identikit visionaries. You need spreadsheet nerds and data geeks, brilliant coders and product developers and great sales people. You need strategists and doers. To use the framework suggested by Rei Inamoto, you hackers, hipsters and hustlers.  

In reality, few of us fall neatly into any one of these boxes. Most could pick a handful of these labels and be comfortable using them about themselves. A few might be brash – or brilliant – enough to use them all about themselves.  

While it is clear that there are some benefits from teams thinking and acting a bit more like founders in some areas, we also think that it is the most balanced team that will have the best chance of success.  

And if you want to overcome the sense that no one else understands you, there may be other ways. You could, for example, join a community of brilliant fellow founders, where you’ll get all the support and understanding that you need, along with helpful suggestions on how to deal with some of the stickier and messier problems founders face from time to time.


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