How Visionary Founders Get Tripped Up

Steve August
April 21, 2021
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Of the four Founder Types, The Visionary Evangelist (Type V) is perhaps the most innovative and charismatic of the Four Founder types.

Type V’s have a special talent for connecting new developments, trends, and tech, and then seeing the possibilities ahead of everyone else.

In addition to being able to see two or three steps ahead, Type V’s are also able to powerfully communicate their vision to others and attract people to their cause. Whether they are working with team members, investors, or customers, Type V’s have an uncanny ability to enroll people and resources to support their vision.

However, especially for First-Time Founders, Type V’s start running into challenges when the company starts to grow.

Here are the 3 biggest mistakes Type V’s encounter when moving from Seed to Growth Stage:

1. Solving Every Challenge with a New Idea
Type V’s are in their happy place coming up with new creative solutions to challenges. So often, their first response to a challenge will be come up with a new, creative solution to a problem (often independently of the team).

This may work in the very early days, but as a company grows, many of the challenges it encounters are challenges of execution, process, and people.

Sometimes a new big idea is actually the last thing the team needs during this phase, especially if it diffuses the team’s focus and ability to hit milestones.

2. Lack of Patience for People and Process
As a company grows from a couple of people in a room to 10, 20, or more — often distributed geographically — leadership has to work harder to communicate consistently and effectively. This takes time and attention.

Type V’s prefer to be looking for new possibilities, working at the level of innovation, and seeing the future opportunities. Effective communication and process creation is a repetitive activity, which Type V’s don’t always have the patience for.

3. Being Overly Dogmatic
Part of what makes Type V’s so compelling is their absolute belief in their vision.

However, the dark side of that belief is that Type V’s can become overly dogmatic in their beliefs. This often shows up when their vision for product or initiative runs into the reality of the marketplace.

This can also show up when they have an impossible standard in their head (which often they haven’t clearly communicated), and in their view, the team keeps falling short.

Recently, I wrote about the three phases of learn, optimize, and scale. The three Type V challenges I describe can be mapped to those phases.

Type V’s love the learning phase and all the novelty it offers. It’s their happy place. And they can see in the future how everything can scale.

However, they often overlook that getting there means a LOT of time and attention in the optimization phase. This means doing things over and over again and making incremental improvements. It’s consistent optimization and execution that unlocks scale.

It’s essential work. At the same time, it’s not the kind of work Visionaries love, and they will often find ways back into the learn/create phase where they are so happy. And that’s how Visionary Founders get tripped up.

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