Home > Musings, Software > Founders aren’t Employees, but neither are Consultants

Founders aren’t Employees, but neither are Consultants

April 1st, 2008

In You Weren’t Meant to Have a Boss, Paul Graham makes some clear distinctions between Founders and Employees. A similar Founder Vs Employee thread was presented in Joel Spolsky’s recent article How Hard Could It Be?: Lessons I Learned in the Army. Spolsky goes on to make the point that Employees do not have the same ambitions as Founders, and that Founders need to realize this dichotomy – that Employees are interested in today (short term) whereas Founders are focused on the long term.

The great employees will be devoted, sure, and it’s completely reasonable to expect them to work their butts off. But unlike founders, employees are concerned about what their jobs are like today. They’re not as excited about making sacrifices for the long run. I can always tell the founders who haven’t figured this out yet, because they’re disappointed in all their employees, firing good people left and right and constantly asking, “Why hasn’t Joe (or Jane) gotten this work done yet? I could have finished it in one weekend!” – Joel Spolsky: How Hard Could It Be?: Lessons I Learned in the Army

Both these articles highlight the differences between Employees and Founders, but what about Consultants?

Consultants can often fall under the full-time Employee umbrella, but probably have an even shorter term interest in their client. Part of a consultant’s job is to maintain objectivity, to distance themselves from becoming financially, emotionally, and personally invested in their client – objectivity is lost when an attachment or investment is made.

According to Janet Ruhl a couple of the biggest Gotchas in consultancy work can be:

  • Investing in your client – purchasing shares in your client or agreeing to software royalties rather than a pay cheque.
  • Being manipulated into working for free.

Consultants are kind of like Employees, but different. Consultants probably have an even shorter term interest in the company they work for then Employees do. I think it’s important to highlight these differences.

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Musings, Software Tags:
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.