Written by Attorney Joe Boucher
Lacking any hard data, it seems safe to assume based on anecdotal evidence that the number of CEOs, Presidents, Directors, Imaginarium Attendants, etc. under the age of 30 has increased significantly since the 20th century. Entrepreneurs’ inclination to create “ and, in turn, own and control “ is a powerful force. In cities with burgeoning entrepreneurial communities, you would be hard pressed to walk down the street without bumping into a gaggle of startup founders wielding heavy-bond business cards with official titles in futuristic sans serif fonts.
The desire to create and nurture a business is admirable and understandable, especially in an economic climate wherein traditional jobs are somewhat scarce. But that desire can turn oppressive when company founders are unwilling to turn to more experienced members of the business community for assistance with matters beyond their experience.
Tempting as it may be, companies often do themselves more harm than good by limiting the members of their core team to the exclusion of any non-founders (or, as often is the case, non-demographic peers). For example, the four college housemates with an idea for a killer iOS app might have the right blend of energy and know-how to hit the ground running, but that doesn’t mean they are all suited to be long-term strategic and operational leaders.
As time passes, the four housemates will almost certainly encounter issues they can’t handle alone, and that can lead to frustration, discord and ultimately failure. To avoid that stress, startup founders should at least be open to bringing on outside members and advisors.
One of successful entrepreneurs’ greatest assets is their trust in and reliance on those who have come before. Given that there are no truly novel ideas, just new and exciting implementations of those ideas, founders can feel confident that someone in the community has some insight on the best way forward.
So, rather than clinging so tightly to the company that it is crushed under the weight of its owners’ expectations, those owners should seek to build a team that blends the motivation and hustle of the young, bright-eyed idealists with the weather-beaten perspective of the old guard. Each company has unique needs, but almost all would benefit from one or more outside directors, non-founder members with experience in the industry or simply savvy, connected cheerleaders.