Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Offering a unique value proposition as an employee 18: startups and the drive to create new paths forward 3

Posted in career development, job search, job search and career development, startups by Timothy Platt on August 19, 2013

This is my eighteenth posting to a series on offering defining value as an employee, and on presenting yourself as the answer to problems faced while doing so (see my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 2, postings 311-327 for Parts 1-17.) And this is also my third installment in this series where I explicitly discuss startups as a rich source of career steps and even full career paths (see Part 16 and Part 17.)

I focused primarily in Parts 16 and 17 on working at a startup or early stage company and for its founder and owner. I turn here to at least begin a discussion of these early stages of business development from the founder and owner perspective. And I would divide that discussion into two fundamentally important areas:

• Creating and offering value as a founder and owner of a new business venture per se, and
• Working with others and with the right others and at the right organizational levels while doing this, and as the business begins to come together and grow.

My initial thought was to start with the first of those bullet points and proceed from there. But instead, I have decided to start this posting with a set of issues that can be consider the glue that connects the owner’s and founder’s perspective and that of the people who work with and for them.

• People set out to build their own businesses from scratch and with all of the risks and uncertainties involved because they face what for them is a compelling need to achieve goals that they cannot reach through already existing systems.
• So they do this and accept the risks and uncertainties and the challenges involved in building their own businesses so they can achieve their own visions and dreams.
• Or alternatively, accomplishing in the face of those risks and uncertainties and those challenges is in and of itself their goal and in that case the founders involved are most likely good candidates for becoming serial entrepreneurs.
• But in any case, founding a new business venture is an exercise in realizing the founder’s own goals and visions and in their way.
• But at the same time, if a venture is to succeed, it has to meet the needs of others and be outwardly facing and oriented too. This means addressing the needs and desires of real customers in a real marketplace. And if this is to get that far it also has to meet the real needs and the realistic expectations of its employees who make much of this venture work, day to day, week to week and month to month.
• Effective founders find a balance between meeting their own needs and meeting those of others, and through trial and error if nothing else learn how to navigate a path that addresses both perspectives. This is not always an easy challenge, and certainly for founders and would-be founders who are driven more by ego than anything else.

With that in mind as a working framework of understanding I address the two top bullet points, and the issues of working with non-owner founders and with people who take on more of a straight employee role. And I begin that by noting a point that should at least be obvious but that can get lost in the process of day to day business decisions. You cannot lead if you cannot bring others to follow you. So at least this part of this posting is all about bringing others to want to get involved and to want to follow your lead. And that means giving them a voice too, and a sense of involvement and of being valued for what they contribute.

I have been writing on and off about this specific set of issues here for virtually as long as I have been writing to this blog and in that respect I cite one of my earliest postings as being specifically relevant to this discussion: Maintaining a Vision While Loosening Our Grip.

• One of the keys to making a new business venture succeed is in being true to your own vision as a founder and builder, but in day to day operational and best practices ways that allow for and support the needs of others, and others both from your prospective marketplace and customer base and from within your own newly forming and growing enterprise.
• And in a fundamental sense this is why I add working as a business owner and executive to this series on offering a unique value proposition as an employee. When you are a business owner and founder, or a chief executive officer in general others might work for you – but in a fundamental sense you should see yourself as working for them too, and with a goal of smoothing their way to help them to stay engaged and succeeding. They might be your employees, but in a real sense you are theirs too.
• That is all about setting aside ego in striving to achieve a larger good.

I am going to continue this discussion in a next series installment where I will focus on some of the specific points raised in my second bullet point at the top:

• Working with others and with the right others and at the right organizational levels while doing this, and as the business begins to come together and grow.

And I will be writing about meshing business needs and strategic plans and goals that would indicate new business needs moving forward, with operational processes and practices for starting to build a new business. Finding the right people and bringing them in to take the right early stage positions becomes a crucially important part of this as the venture reaches a point where it has to be a group effort if it is to succeed. And that can apply from day one and even from the pre-planning stage and before anything has been formally started.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 2 and at my first Guide directory page on Job Search and Career Development. You can also find this and related postings at Startups and Early Stage Businesses.

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