What Kind of Startup Founder Are You?
Many promising new ventures struggle to get off the ground because their founders fail to cultivate a sense of collective ownership — a feeling that the venture idea is “ours,” and not just the founder’s — in their teams. When teams feel ownership of an idea, they are more collaborative, they take more risks, and they make more personal sacrifices to support the shared goal — and when there’s a lack of ownership, team members quickly become demotivated and unproductive. So, what can founders do to foster that all-important sense of collective ownership?
I have read this piece of article which really intrigued me and hence sharing this article based on my research, I discovered that founders tend to adopt one of three styles — and which style they choose can have a major impact on their success
The first type of founder actively seeks input from their team not just on questions of execution, but on their entire venture idea. Proactively engaging your team on shaping the core idea is an effective way to build ownership — but only to a point. And if a founder encouraged too much feedback, the team was liable to lose focus and motivation. Also, these founders often fail to set clear boundaries around what is and isn’t up for debate, creating conflict when team members suggest ideas that the founders don’t like. Getting your team involved by delegating important decisions is a great way to cultivate a sense of ownership — but without clear boundaries, you risk losing both your own interest in the venture and the support of your team.
The second type of founder is much more territorial about their ideas. In some cases, this approach can boost collective ownership, as clear direction can reduce ambiguity, minimize potential conflict, and ensure people are focused on the same goals. Of course, this style also limits opportunities for new team members to influence the direction of the company, making it difficult to stay engaged and invested.
The final type of founder I observed struck a delicate balance between the two approaches described above. This blended approach captures the benefits of the other two styles while minimizing their downsides. By asking for help in some areas and articulating clear boundaries in others, these founders can bolster engagement while keeping their teams from taking the venture in an unwanted direction. Part of what makes this mixed approach so effective is that it’s not just about designating what’s not up for debate — it’s about explicitly stating where founders would like their team members to contribute.
Takeaways for Founders
So, what does this mean for startup founders? Ultimately, there’s a time and a place for both delegation and dictatorship — the important thing is to designate clear boundaries between the two. Based on my research, I suggest a simple three-step plan for founders looking to help their people foster a strong sense of collective ownership:
1. Start by cataloging the various elements of your business idea, such as the core technology, target market, product/service design, financial projections, and customer acquisition strategy.
2. For each of these elements, determine for yourself whether they are fixed or open to change.
3. Clearly (and consistently) communicate these distinctions to your team.
Naturally, there will be parts of your idea that feel sacred and other parts in which you will be happy to welcome feedback. To keep your team engaged and your business on track, what matters most is that you clearly designate which is which.
About Devansh Lakhani
Director of Lakhani Financial Services, and a Chartered Accountant, he helps start-ups raise funds from his network of investors. He guides and advises start-ups to scale up by providing efficient sales, marketing, team building, and business management strategies. He has executed fundraising by block deals on the stock exchange and conducted IPOs and right issues on the SME platform to the tune of over Rs. 50 Crore. He is currently working with start-ups from various sectors to help them channelize their business models and investments