• Vinay Nair

Roles and Responsibilities of a Startup Founder

One of the most popular ideas in the world today is entrepreneurship. Almost everyone dreams to start their own venture that they believe will cross new heights. This ideology is what is driving the youth across the world today. It is obviously encouraging to see the enthusiasm amongst all individuals to start their own business but, it is very important to keep in mind that starting and running a business is no walk in the park.


Running a business and a startup are two very different things. 


While some people believe that after running an already standing business, they can perform well in the startup space as well. Startups are a totally different culture in itself and nobody can just get up and start a venture, it requires a certain level of commitment, skills, determination and aspiration.


Startup ecosystems are intense, personal, demanding, vulnerable and erratic. A large number of startups are created every year but a majority of the startups fail to sustain their business for more than 2-3 years, while some go on to revolutionize lifestyles forever. There are a number of reasons that can cause a startup to fail like – inadequate cash, failure to serve a need, inefficient leadership and a lack of focus towards the offering. 


A strong leader is essential and non- negotiable for a startup. Good leadership is the first step to building a reputable brand and every entrepreneur must have the basic skills needed to lead his people and offer success. 


Some of the duties and obligations of an entrepreneur are:


Managing the team – A founder should be able to efficiently manage all stakeholders starting right from the lowest level employees up to the highest level such as investors, suppliers, etc. The founder should have a clear idea of the internal composition of the company and must only include individuals whose goals align with theirs. The founder should be able to direct all the members of the organization towards his/her goal and not but be deterred by any stakeholders.


Formulate a vision – Every startup starts with a vision to serve certain needs. The founder should be very specific in his goals and needs to have a clear and unaltered picture in their mind as to how their venture will grow. The vision should be simple, attainable and should be able to provide motivation to guide you the entire time until you reach there.


Knowledge of the market – An entrepreneur should be well aware of the market that they are trying to penetrate into. Information like competition, costing, profitability, gaps, regulations , etc. They need to be clear as to what segment of the total market they want to obtain. They must be well aware of the trends in the market and move their processes along with those.


Leadership – One of the most important jobs of a founder is to build a responsible team and carry them and lead them through to success. As a leader the founder will need to set up an example for the entire organization to look up to. The founder has to work on resolving conflicts, delegation of duties and maintain morale in times of distress. The founder has to be confident in his team and idea.


Ensure that operations are in goal with the vision – A founder needs to ensure that the organisation is moving towards the ultimate goal. All the processes, shipments, launch dates, product development, etc are in complete sync. The founder should be well aware of the progress and the product roadmap of their organization.


Fundraising – A founder should have complete knowledge of their offering when presenting it to an investor. An investor looks at the need for the product along with the efficiency of the founder to collaborate with them and lead the organization. Investors look to work with founders that are enthusiastic, well informed, leaders and good orators. A founder should always look at forming a collaborative relationship with investors to take their venture forward.


Focus on your KPI’s – An effective founder will be able to identify the key metrics that drive the company’s performance. Identifying the right KPIs is not an easy task as some of the indicators might be short lived. Once the right indicators have been identified the founder must monitor them regularly and work on strategies to add on and improve the current performance metrics.


Business plan – Founder is responsible for developing a business plan with consultation from senior employees. The founder needs to monitor the business plan frequently and make any adaptations if necessary. If the business plan is developed by someone other than the founder, then he/she needs to be in constant contact with the developer.


Finance – Many early stage startups do not have a designated CFO and thus the founder becomes responsible for maintaining the financial aspect of the business. A lot of startups run out of cash. Startups require a lot of capital in the development stage. It is the role of a founder to ensure that the venture is able to meet its cash requirements and have enough cash in the future to sustain the business.


Networking – One of the most important duties of a founder, Interaction with potential investors, customers, suppliers, partners, industry leaders, etc can help in building an image for the organisation, gain recognition and insight into unexplored areas.


Marketing – Startups require intensive marketing campaigns to kickstart their business. The founder should be well aware of the current trends in advertising and should be able to identify the right marketing channel and target audience for his/her offering. Some common points that founders could look at are writing content, social media postings, SEO, events, sales promotion, discounts, etc.


Customer service – A founder should always interact with their customers to gather feedback and insights from the customer's perspective. In this way the founders can keep a track of how the offering has actually impacted users in the market. It will give them a real time outlook of their firm's performance.


Assessing risk and opportunities – Entrepreneurs should be prepared to take on risk. An effective founder takes calculated risks and capitalizes on any opportunities that come their way. When the leadership is not very efficient the organisation can miss out on big opportunities.


Other duties of a startup founder include quality assurance, selling a product in the early stages of the startup, customer acquisition and experimentation. 


The founder can be considered as an axis around which the entire startup revolves. All operations start and end with the founder. Many entrepreneurs start their business and then lose interest in it, ultimately leading to the failure of the startup. These are just some of the points to remember while running a startup. Every entrepreneur has their own unique way of running their business, which is what makes every startup unique, but some duties are generic to all founders to grow their business and succeed at every stage of the business cycle. 

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