I had a kind of special exposure of being an employee in a big tech then a startup Founder. I could see clearly the difference between being in both worlds.
Being a top executive at a large company is totally different than being a startup Founder. Though both roles share many common skills, succeeding at either of them doesn’t mean subsequently succeeding at the other.
At this stage of my venture, I feel I want to describe this difference with an analogy that I could imagine based on my own professional prospective.
A big company was once a startup, but the original founders are mostly no longer there; new individuals are now in charge.
The Journey of a Top Executive
Being a top Executive in a large company is like climbing up a hill or a mountain in a big valley with many people scattered around. Some are helping you up, some are trying to climb faster, some are rooting for you from a distance, some may want to drag you down, some are just watching you and the majority do not care.
Much efforts and patience are needed. You must wind-up and wind sideways, look above while watching your current steps. It is not a lonely journey, you are always around many people.
You need to master a façade of talents, most important one is to understand people, then one to execute your tasks well and another to communicate this loud and clear.
You should have a very good understanding of networks structures and people biases, your allies are your most important contributors to your progress, the more useful they are, the better your chances to go up are.
You’re always mixing the execution of goals given to you with well communication, leadership, persuasion and maybe some public speaking in order to get things working up and up for you!
There are company rules that you must follow, and there are policies that you must respect. Everyday you do things that are little more or little less like the things you did weeks before.
The Journey of a Startup Founder
Being a startup Founder is like being in a big forest alone where predators are never far away, it is random, no clear rules or playbooks. You have one or two small tools in your hands and your mission is not just to survive, but to build a shelter in a secure piece of land and plant it with your own seeds.
As a startup founder (or a cofounder), you are most of the time alone in this forest. You learn to lit fire alone, you sleep at night alone hiding your body away from predators while trying to shut your mind away from their scary voices!
To keep yourself alive, you need to learn new skills everyday, you must not eat a lot, be always lean while keeping a very good health and reserve a great deal of food supply in order to use it for as long period as possible.
You try to find the right people to join your tribe along this journey, everyone must be adventures, thrilled, very skilled and believing in what you’re trying to build together.
Once you start building your shelter and plant your seeds, you will figure out that this is not the right place or there are one or more mistakes made or problems you did not foresee. You may have to demolish everything, or start somewhere else, or try new methods, or whatever that you have to figure out, no one really knows! You just should not die anytime along this process and keep on iterating! Your goal is to survive, build your shelter and plant your seeds the best way possible.
At last, and after this life-threatening journey! if you managed to build the right thing, you will find that it must be protected with some mountains or hills around it, you will need to build some protective walls as well while leaving some open sides for your land to grow!
Your land must grow larger with time. Finally, it is now a vast valley with many hills within it and around it, you did it!
This is the time when top Executive roles start to emerge and some few begin climbing up these hills and work things out for your business from where they should be…!
A startup founder is the first creator and the founding father/mother of the business.
If a founder ever succeeded, management roles emerge and top Executives come onboard as main caretakers and catalysts for next levels of growth of the business.
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