Let’s start with this assumption: entrepreneurs are the best leaders/managers a company can have. Most importantly, the entrepreneur that founded a company is the best leader that company will ever have, probably. Why is that?

Entrepreneurs come up with things that sell, they’re product people. For some reason, large companies can often come to be run by people who are good at many of the other things large companies do other than sell products: raise money, deal with regulation, institute internal processes, fire people, hire people, etc. Sometimes these skills need to be the focus over some time horizon. But be not fooled: these are secondary functions.

At best, an entrepreneur is a product person that views the company as an extension of his/her personal self. It’s not just the financial alignment that investors spend all their time worrying about, but an alignment of identity. Because of that, many of the secondary functions simply fall into place: you run the company’s finances like you’d run your own, which makes you (more) risk averse, which is basically good. You run the brand like you run your personal relationships, which, assuming you’re mostly normal with your own quirks (which everyone is) makes the brand accessible yet interesting. Et cetera.

Seeing a company as an extension of your self seems to me to be a kind of empathy. You feel pain when the company is hurt, you feel joy when the company grows. The pressure of having to care for this thing you created, which includes its people (think about the word company), provides a motivating force unlike anything else in our society.

So that’s what an entrepreneur is to me: a person with deep empathy for his/her firm and relentless focus on the #1 priority of any business organization: customers’ needs. Which, of course, is another form of empathy.

One thought on “Entreprenempathy

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