In my experience, exceptionally bright, driven, visionary people commonly share a particular attribute: a high need for control. These characteristics are also hallmarks of the startup founder, who brings maniacal focus, evangelical passion and a penchant for multi-tasking to the table. As they bring on co-founders and early employees, you can often find the founder speaking with investors, working on the product, writing code, recruiting, and spending time with early customers. This is the province of the Founder CEO and is the right way to be early in the game, both out of necessity and in order for there to be a “single point of failure” with responsibility for the early product and customer experience. However, as businesses scale, functional specialists are increasingly retained to drive specific aspects of the operation, e.g., VP Engineering, VP Sales, VP Product, etc. This makes sense as the complexity of servicing a rapidly expanding set of customers explodes, while also continuing to iterate on the product and scaling the back-end to meet these challenges. In other words, it takes a village to ramp a start-up, and part of this necessarily means that the Founder CEO give up a measure of functional control in order to lead an integrated organization forward. But this is easier said than done.
As a serial entrepreneur, I have learned and relearned this lesson a number of times. This is a good article for every startup founder to read and reflect upon.