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Co-founders better than one founder

Posted by on April 26, 2013 | 3 comments

Google
Facebook
Microsoft
Yahoo

What do they have in common? They have co-founders. There are numerous other businesses that start with multiple co-founders. YES, there are businesses that fail with co-founders and others that succeed with single founders. However, even when there is a single founder, the founder must quickly bring other people on board to share responsibility and power.  Without that, the company would have a hard time succeeding. Believe this and it will save you a lot of trouble: People are motivated to sacrifice their all by either large sums of money or great passion and ownership of a project.

For a company to succeed, we need at least three passionate people.

A product creator
A marketing person
A financial manager

Research has shown over and over again that one person cannot do all of these things. A single individual can’t even adequately do two of them no matter how gifted he or she is. He can only do one well. I believe that God has made us like that so that we can use our gifts to serve each other, to build each other up for his glory.

This is true for for-profit and nonprofit businesses alike. The problem of finding the right people to join the team is relatively easy for-profit businesses because they have the financial resources to bring on competent executives. They are able to give them large salaries and company shares. These executives are motivated by both money and the purpose of the business corporation.

Large non-profit organizations (including Christian ministries), are also often able to pay their executives well. Some of them pay their senior executives to the tune of millions. What do you do as a small non-profit start up that doesn’t have the money?

Offer people the opportunity be a part of founding the organization so that they have the sense of ownership that will motivate and encourage them. If the organization is already founded, then create an environment where everyone working genuinely feels like they own a part of the work, it is their work as well. ¬†This may mean that you have to be patient, pray, research and CAREFULLY find other people with the same passion. Invite them to join you in the creation of the organization. Don’t create it and then invite them. Invite them to be co-founders. Give them the sense that it’s their baby as well as yours. That could quickly bring some core group of passionate people that will handle different responsibilities of the nonprofit as it grows.

If you are a single founder, don’t despair. All hope is not lost. I am a single founder too. But I have set things up in a way that others can join and take ownership and really feel that they count in the work of the organization. But if I had to do it over again and had the option of finding five to 10 equally passionate people who want to do the same thing, I would invite them to join me or join them. There is enough room for everyone to shine when an organization is big an growing. There is no room for anyone (not even the founder) when its dead or stunted. If you are a Christian and feel called of God to start, realize that when God gives a vision to a prophet, it’s for the people, not for the prophet. The prophet may be a leader on the team, but God’s vision is for his people, to be done in a way that God alone takes the glory. If a person is overly afraid to invite others to share equal control of the nonprofit, there is a chance that they don’t trust God and are trying to control the nonprofit by holding on to power. When you do that, you kill the nonprofit and drive God out of it.

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3 Comments

  1. I was too afraid to follow my dream of serving orphans because I felt inadequate and small…like I couldn’t do it by myself. And I think that was exactly what God was trying to teach me: I wasn’t supposed to do it by myself. Having a team working together; reaching out to people, collaborating ideas, and pushing a movement forward is much better than trying to do any significant work on your own. It’s also good for leaders to be teaching someone else to eventually rise up and take their position if and when that time comes. No one lives forever and its very beneficial for those in leadership position to find someone who shows great potential and mentor them to continue to passion even after they’re gone.

  2. I’m in the process of beginning to set up a non-profit. I find your words very helpful and fully agree with you about who is to be in charge. God is truly the ONE that will be in charge. Thank-you for this article.

    • Hello Linda, I am glad that you were able to find this article helpful; I can definitely agree with you as it has been very insightful to me as well. I will suggest to you to check out http://www.orphancaremovement and http://www.kennethacha.com to find more informative articles on leadership in the non-profit community.

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