Startup Law 101 Series – Why It Is a Great Time to Be a Founder

There is always a trade-off to be made between working as an employee for a company and working as a founder for your own venture. Each has its advantages and each its drawbacks. Neither is inherently better than the other. While I argue the case that it is a great time today to try to become a founder, this does not preclude the idea of being an employee and, indeed, being an employee is very often an essential in the process of positioning oneself to be an effective founder. It is all a matter of goals and perspective. So let us here consider the pros and cons of each.

First, there is nothing wrong with being an employee.

Many, many distinguished and accomplished people have made their mark as employees working for others and many continue to do so today. Some do so for guaranteed forms of high compensation with the potential for major bonuses and perks within resplendent towers of high-profile urban areas. Others do so for very modest forms of compensation in environments of relative obscurity.

Yet, while compensation (and particularly guaranteed compensation) tends to rank high with those choosing employment, it is by no means the sole or even necessarily the most important motivator for choosing to work for others. Money gives you the ability to pay bills and sustain yourself financially. A lot of money gives you more choices on things you can do or gain: a bigger house (or two or three or whatever), freedom to travel, the ability to accumulate nice things or to buy fancy goods or services and so on.

But we are not static beings who just sit around consuming things. Ask anyone who has fallen victim to gluttony how much endless food continues to satisfy, or ask anyone who has piled endless purchase one upon another of this or that how much the next one will satisfy, and you will conclude pretty readily that we quickly reach satiation points along such paths, with ever-diminishing satisfaction awaiting us for each successive indulgence. Even the process of measuring one’s status against that of others, and of taking satisfaction in the fact that one has moved from “nickel millionaire” to the dollar version gets old very quickly. The curse of perpetual unsatisfiableness is always there to fill the emptiness inside if that is all that is within you.

So we also work to gain satisfaction, to develop ourselves and to learn things and progress. Is that more important than money? Well, it depends on the person. I would say emphatically yes. Far better to enjoy what you do with a modest return than to revel in riches if that should mean attendant misery. If that sounds like judgmental, perhaps it is and it really is for each person to make his own judgments about the benefits, drawbacks, and trade-offs. For my part, I will insert my judgments while trying to refrain from being sanctimonious.

Of course, becoming wealthy and achieving satisfaction are not mutually exclusive goals and we can strive for both. My point is that money is not, and should not be, the only or even the major factor in opting for employment or in deciding upon which form of employment may suit you.

So we have money and we have satisfaction in what we do as key motivators. Add to that the quality of the experience gained from a work environment and this to me rounds out the key factors involved.