It’s your idea and your company, right? You instinctively hold onto your creation. Like a little kid holding onto a toy, you won’t let anyone play with it. Unfortunately, stubbornness and entitlement is not exactly a recipe for entrepreneurial success.
You have a lot of competition, and they have teams of smart, dedicated people working in tandem toward a common goal. By the time you let someone else play with your toy, the market may have moved on to something else. As you probably learned a long time ago, you are going to have to share. And sharing means sharing ownership of your idea.
You might say, “Fine, but I’m in charge.” Does that mean you are in charge of the development process, the employees, the marketing plan, the sales effort, and the oversight of the finances? Leaving aside the issue of who would want to work with someone who is such a control freak, do you really think that your skills in all these domains are better than every other person out there?
You are going to have to give up some control as well. The individuals who work for you will need to feel like they have some control. More importantly, your company cannot grow if every single component requires your input, vision, and guidance. The question then becomes how much power to give up.
Let’s say you are a person with excellent leadership skills and the CEO task is what you are best suited for. Perhaps you have a technical background, but others have more technical expertise than you have. You hire a CTO.
You don’t have to give complete control over the technology to the future CTO. Maybe the CTO is a “pie in the sky” early adopter of the latest technology. They might choose the most expensive, cutting-edge technology, with the most exciting and trendy features. Is that the best way to deliver a viable product that meets customer needs on time and on a budget?
Probably not. So you still need to have some control over technical development and set the overall goal and limiting parameters. But recognize that there is an end to your power. Eventually, you have to let your CTO make some specific decisions based on their expertise. And some decisions may be a mistake. That’s the risk you take. But the danger of disempowering people is higher. You don’t want to be the only one who cares about your toy and kid that no one plays with.
- Wasserman Noam. The Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup. Princeton University Press. March 25, 2012, p. 12.