What should a founder do in a startup?

by: Michal Szymanski

What kind of work should perform the founder in startup?

I know many people who answer "every kind". I know also many others who have a completely different view.

The obvious answer is that, the smaller startup and the earliest stage of its development, the greater need the founder to be involved in every aspect of the company.

From morning to evening you work as a regular programmer, between one and another commit you manage the company, organize work for your team, write documentation, create educational materials, service clients, do marketing, promotional videos and explain to accounts where you lost an invoice from 2 years ago.

When everyone goes home, you have finally time to finish renovation in the new office late in the evening

...and the next day you start coding as if nothing has happened :)

Our dilemma was completely different and it can be reduced to the the following question:

- If you are a technical founder of the technological startup how long should you work as a specialist at your field? When should you leave specialized tasks to your team and take care of managing the company?

You can pose this question even more bluntly:

- When you should stop being a programmer / marketer / analyst and become an entrepreneur?

After several years of running MDB, both me and my partner, we work as specialists. We divide our time between management company and working as a regular employee. Probably it will not change for a long time.

Why? Let me put the answer in some point:

  • We still decide on the direction of product development. I can not imagine making such decisions without proper technical knowledge.
  • There is no person in the world (even among our employees) who would know our products as well we do. We devoted them a lot time, work on them for several hours a day at weekend and holidays, for years we have not allowed ourselves for leave. This company is our obsession and just no one is able to approach to the borderline of sacrifice and understanding as we have. It is normal and understandable because it is our company, after all.
  • In the world of technology it is easy to sell a bill of goods to non-technical person. It is not so simply with us.
  • We have a team of great people who have specialized in their fields and they are better at them than we are. But there is no one who would have the perspective of whole company - its all projects, technologies, marketing, sales, management accounting - gather together. There is also no one who would be eager to come in this, because it would require too much dedication.This the role of the founders.
  • We have ambitions and love MDB. We want it to be qualitatively perfect. If we did not participate in development process ourselves, we always would have some reservations about the project but could not do much about it, apart from accepting arguments of programmers.
  • We are able to find our team mistakes and propose insignificant improvements. It would be impossible without technical knowledge.
  • Every times when someone tells us that "it can not be done", we can sit in front of the computer and show that is possible.
  • We are just into this.

However, nothing is free. If you want to work at the same time as an businessman and as a specialist, you will pay for it with your personal life, to be more precise - its lack :)

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Michal Szymanski

Co-founder of MDBootstrap and BrandFlow. Entrepreneur, web developer, UI / UX designer, marketer. Dancer and nerd at the same time.

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