Nancy Lublin: When Smart People Become Reliable Valets

Editor’s Note — This is the article in full. This is the first in a series of excerpts from “The Key to Attracting and Retaining Employees: How to Create the Environment That Creates Happier, More …

Editor’s Note — This is the article in full.

This is the first in a series of excerpts from “The Key to Attracting and Retaining Employees: How to Create the Environment That Creates Happier, More Productive Staff,” by Julie Pizzi and David Levin, published in Plus Book. Visit to read the rest of the articles.

Editor’s Note — This is the article in full.

Startups are supposed to be impulsive. Investors, we are told, demand startups that move quickly in order to build the world’s best product or service. Even the middle manager and the hierarchal hierarchy seem designed for incremental change, and don’t want to know any more about the great plans for the future. That is how it has to be; the best product or service takes time to build, and true competition in the market appears to be the only fair rule.

So, if you are building a startup, by all means, do what is required to increase your market share and bring in more customers. The life of a startup is all about taking risks. For you, the journey may be a short one or may be long. I often see companies fold because the founder and his/her team got too big, or they got too greedy, or they caved in to the markets and paid the price in market share. It is only the lack of a plan for what comes next that killed your company.

So that great entrepreneur seems right again, and you hire him/her, right?

What if this entrepreneur’s only role is to build great products and services and let others figure out how to take advantage of those products and services? And what if in return for supporting you in this endeavor, you need his/her expertise, guidance, even tolerance to bootstrap your company in the early days or, failing that, compensation that is better than a salary from a larger company?

What then?

There is no going back from a Founder in his/her prime of mind, pulling all-nighters, saying no to multiple jobs or even continuing to fund your company, if he/she decides his/her real talent is that of a successful entrepreneur. If that Founder took that opportunity to be a consultant from time to time, have you thought about getting that assistance for free?

You may be surprised to know that starting a company requires a lot of help. Some startup companies need highly skilled and knowledgeable people. Some startups lack a defined and solid idea in the beginning. And often, building a company needs personal encouragement, an inspirational team, and a strong and inspiring leader.

So, if you were to do everything yourself, doing it all yourself, you would miss the opportunity to benefit from the experience of other entrepreneurs with different backgrounds, career experiences, or leadership styles. To survive, get other people to help out by offering that expertise, guidance, or tolerance for continuing to bootstrap your company. While some people are afraid to let go, an advantage to having an external “savior” is that you can learn from the mistakes of others, learn new ways to approach problems, and keep on being innovative in new ways.

You may think that the founder-employee combination will last forever. They are close friends and colleagues. Even if it doesn’t last for long, how could he/she do it all by himself?

Look around. Every month, there is a much larger, faster, better, more unique business out there. The majority of these businesses are growing exponentially, have executives and visionaries who can be mentors for you, and possibly their products and services are also cheap or free.

Did you know that your friend may be running a company that is worth billions of dollars? (That’s just a bit far-fetched, I agree. But I do want to underline the point that every entrepreneur, whether small or large, has his/her limitations. If there is no other way, they have to find one.)

I think you will agree that the Author knows more about startups and running a startup than you do. Don’t be afraid to Quit. It Could Help You Win. You may be surprised at the path that may lead you to where you need to be.

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