The Worst Reason to be an Entrepreneur

Years ago, a former colleague told me that he wanted to start a company so that he wouldn’t have a boss anymore.  His comment immediately gave me pause, but only now after years of building Visible Measures do I understand why his statement was so wrong.

To be an entrepreneur, you have to have optimism, conviction, and passion.  Why?  Because there will often be downs (and ups) that you will have to find a way to get over or push through.  To be an enterpreneur, you should be driven to make a dent in the universe, solve a problem, build something from nothing.  Not having a boss?  That has to be the worst reason to be an enterpreneur. Not only because it hints at having a bad attitude, but because it is patently false.

When you are an entrepreneur, you are starting a company.  There are very few instances where you can start a company without partners, backers, investors, colleagues, or clients.  If you have any of these, they effectively are your “boss”.  Your clients want you to do something?  You should at least listen to them.  Your investors think that you should go in a certain direction?  Hopefully, you are not just giving them the 1 finger salute.  

Practicing “subservient leadership” may not be for everyone, but in truth, most venture-backed startup founders / CEOs have many “bosses”.  I personally believe that I exist to serve the needs of my teammates, investors, clients, etc.  It can be a very lonely role, and you often have to make decisions that are painful in order to maximize results for as many as possible.  I may have the title of CEO, but that just means that when things go wrong, the buck stops with me, and when things go well, the team should get the credit 🙂

Oh and did I mention that a board of directors can essentially replace a CEO at any time?  That is one of the key responsibilities of a board.  So you are thinking of starting a company to not have a boss?  You should think again.