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WeWork Co-founder: Know the difference between a founder and founding team members

founding team members founding team members

WeWork is changing the concept of an office. Here is what one of its co-founders thinks about building companies.

1. Don’t limit yourself by waiting to fund raise

I often encounter people who are talking about raising funding who feel like they have a certain number that they have to get to in order to empower themselves and their business.

They say things like “once we raise $100k we’ll be able to do this” or “we’re raising $500k and then we’ll be able to start.”

It always seem like they have this ‘limit’ factor where until they raise money they aren’t a legitimate business.

It’s important for entrepreneurs to believe that they’re actually in business from day 1 because the best case scenario is that the market validates the product before they even have to raise money.

In our case, we had customers that were willing to sign up and become members of our community based on our ability to communicate our vision – way before we had an actual product.

As a founder, if you can do that, it’ll help increase your valuation, your credibility, and certainly your long-term ability to continue to grow because you’ve already started off with the mind-set that you’re absolutely real and your development is a forgone conclusion.

Don’t let raising funding ever be a limit.

2. Understand the difference between founders and founding team members

One of the key aspects of building a team is to understand the differences between founders and founding team members.

I’ve certainly heard amongst other founders examples where there was some confusion with this definition specifically with people who joined shortly after the company was founded.

The people who consider themselves the founders, who were in the room at the moment when the business concept was developed and wrote the original business plan, were then caught by surprise from what they considered to be an employee who joined somewhere down the line.

If all of a sudden you have that conversation and it doesn’t go well, it can be a big problem. You may end up parting ways with that person – and when you only have 3, 4, or 5 people, losing someone at that stage could be a challenge.

The time and energy it takes to deal with are a huge distraction from running your business.

Working out personnel problems is the last thing you want to be doing when you’re trying to build your business in that early stage.

3. Keep people connected to the vision

Leadership in an early stage / quickly growing company impacts hugely on morale.

Everyone is going to be working really hard, most likely for long hours. It’s easy to do that when you’re the founder and you are directly tied to your vision. You have this big dream of changing the world.

You have to remember that some of the people on your team are employees and that they may not be as connected to the vision as directly or explicitly as you are.

They may be doing an important job that fits them in a smaller box and while you may be thinking about all this big picture stuff, they may not be. They may be discouraged or frustrated due to the challenges.

As the leader in an intense start-up environment it’s super important to connect with people and to help them connect with the company’s mission on a regular basis.

Make sure that you take the time to listen to them and hear their concerns and their ideas – and get their input.

You want everyone on the team to walk into the office or workspace every day feeling excited, motivated and energized.