No One Will Care as Much as You
Here is a tough truth that every startup founder eventually learns. No one will care about your company as much as you do. You will live, breath, and die with your startup as the founder. It is your baby, and you would do anything required to see it thrive. Well, as you start to bring other people into the business with you, you are not likely to see that level of dedication. This is going to be the case with the other people on your management team, even if they have equity in the business. It is going to drive you crazy if you let it. My advice is to accept this fact, and don’t let it get you nuts.
I have founded two startups and now run the venture group Beyond The Game Network. I know the pain of loving your business. I worked crazy hours at my two startups, as bad or worse than my investment banking days. I struggled to step away with so many things to do. I felt every win as a giant validation of me and not just the business. I also hurt badly every time the business hit a bump in the road. I think this made me a better founder, and if you are running a business right now and don’t have this level of commitment and desire to succeed, then you may be in the wrong profession.
In both of my startups, I saw that the people I hired definitely did not care like I did. They wanted the business to succeed, but they didn’t feel the highs and lows like I did. They let stuff slide if it was outside their job description, or they went home when there was still work to be done for the day. They did sloppy work that led to bad customer experiences or lost business. It drove me insane. These people were screwing up the opportunity for my baby to be a success. This happened even at the management level with team members that had significant equity in the business. I thought that equity would be a big enough driver to lead to the dedication I was looking for, but I was wrong. At the end of the day, it wasn’t their business and they never felt it like I did.
Certainly, a portion of the lack of dedication of my management team was my fault as the business founder. I could have done a better job getting people to feel the ownership I felt. It is also likely that no matter what I did my team members would never care the way I did. Having lived through this twice now, I have come to accept this point. If I am ever crazy enough to start another business, I will go in with my eyes open and manage this better.
Thanks for reading today’s post, I hope this helps prepare you for dealing with your employees’ commitment level better than I did.