In the article, “What is the difference between a founder and a leader?” by the Harvard Business School Executive Education, findings of a study discussed the characteristics found in a successful entrepreneur, by dividing this title into two: A founder and a leader.
Applegate’s research team at HBS devised a test by sending a test to 1,300 HBS alumni, asking both founders and non-founders to self-assess skills and behaviors associated with their profession. By testing al HBS alumni including those who started companies as well as those who hold leadership positions within established firms, researchers could start to look at leadership trends in general and also break down differences among founders.
The purpose of this was to point to the potential for building typology of entrepreneurs that were not differentiated by ‘personality’. One of the most useful aspects of the study distinguishes between one-time versus serial entrepreneurs. Researchers claimed that serial entrepreneurs seem to enjoy the process of taking a business from the realm of uncertainty to certainty, propelling them to take the leap multiple times. Other entrepreneurs, however, seemed to have less tolerance for such repetition.
Furthermore, the study found that founders were more comfortable than leaders with things like financial management and management of operations (aspects of an MBA education). The studies found by Harvard Business School hold true sense to them. Previous studies always look for the characteristics of leaders and successful entrepreneurs, but realistically, that doesn’t push someone to start a successful company. The separation of successful businessmen from leaders to founders is a great assessment to see what the differences may be.
The distinguished founding of serial vs. one-time entrepreneurs seems very valid, because successful entrepreneurs should hold stamina in what they do, their occupation holds a lot of repetition, especially when opening more than one company. Therefore, serial entrepreneurs can last owning multiple companies at once, without feeling the sense of repetition to be bothersome.
However, one-time entrepreneurs, or the ‘one-hit wonder’ type tend to live off one idea they have created, then stop their work as an entrepreneur because owning many companies seems gruesome and repetitive.
The study also found that founders were more comfortable with aspects learned in an MBA curriculum, so perhaps founders, or company owners, seemed to start their business in a calculated and educated manner. They must have been through an MBA post graduate schooling to start their business, while leaders do not necessarily hold those characteristics, because their schooling and interests can be more diverse.