Founder vs Employee Mindset 🧠

18 Differences between a founder and employee mentality

Many of my friends are entrepreneurs, most likely because I choose to and blend more easily with them. It's also true that you are the average of the 5 people you spend most of your time with. But at the same time, I come from a very employee-type mentality, starting from my school days, then college, and even now in some interactions. A few days ago, during a discussion with my friend (an employee), a strange thing happened that made me realize that there are some differences in the way founders and employees think. As I started noting down these points, it became clearer and clearer to me the difference. Thinking that I might have been biased while creating these points, I wanted to get a second opinion from an employee friend, and she added some points that made things more unbiased.

I am not trying to portray one as better than the other but simply observing these differences is a crucial part of becoming one. It's also true that one can make the jump to the other. But all in all, we need both types in the world to make things happen.

But why does it even matter?

1. It helps in navigating discussions and tough conversations.

2. Develops empathy for the other side and makes us more appreciative of their work and effort.

3. None of these differences are permanent or conditioned. Hence, one could make the jump from one to the other.

4. Knowing what these differences are is a way to make the jump from one world to the other.

5. Helps in hiring people at early-stage companies who also need to have a bit of a founder mindset.

6. Helps in valuing your time and finding the right purpose.

I personally believe that the world needs more entrepreneurs to solve so many unsolved problems. A founder does the job of 10 or more while they wear multiple hats. This creates more opportunities and needs employees that can help it grow and sustain.

Aman Sharma


Now, let's look at the differences that make the Founder mindset different from an Employee's:




Often entrepreneurial, visionary, and enjoys networking.

Diverse personalities; not specifically linked to their employment status.


Equity in the company is common, with potential for high rewards in the long term. Salary may be minimal initially.

Primarily relies on a steady salary with potential for bonuses and benefits.


High risk, as success is contingent on the company's performance. Personal and financial stakes are significant.

Lower risk, with job security and compensation not directly tied to the market's volatility.


High degree of ownership over projects and company direction. Involved in a wide range of tasks.

Specific responsibilities within their role. Ownership is more limited to their scope of work.


Often has the flexibility to set schedules and work environments but may work longer hours.

May have less flexibility in work hours but clearer boundaries between work and personal time.

Time Frame

Long-term perspective, focused on growth and scaling the business.

More likely to focus on short- to medium-term objectives aligned with their role and career path.


Typically more agile, able to pivot and adapt strategies quickly based on feedback and market conditions.

May work within more structured frameworks and processes, with agility depending on the company's culture.


Continuous learning is crucial, often self-directed towards broad knowledge and skills to grow the business.

Focused learning on specific skills and knowledge related to their role, often supported by professional development opportunities.


Personal and company growth are deeply intertwined. Success can significantly impact personal wealth and status.

Career growth is more linear and predictable, with success leading to promotions and salary increases.


Actively builds a diverse network for partnership, investment, and support.

Networking may be more focused on professional development and career opportunities.


Invests personal time, money, and resources into the company. The ultimate risk-taker.

Investments are primarily through their job performance and career development.

Dealing with Problems

Faces challenges head-on with a problem-solving mindset. May deal with broader and more strategic issues.

Deals with problems within their scope of work, may escalate larger issues to management.


Must be resilient and adaptable to the stresses and challenges of starting and running a business.

Conditioning to adhere to company policies, procedures, and culture.

Leader vs Execution

Balances between being a visionary leader and getting involved in execution to ensure the vision is realized.

Primarily focused on execution within their area, following leadership directives.


Highly variable, often working non-standard hours to accommodate the needs of the business.

More likely to have a standard work schedule, with some flexibility depending on the role.


Less predictability in terms of company performance, income, and daily tasks.

Greater predictability in job roles, compensation, and daily routines.


Requires a broad set of knowledge and skills to navigate all aspects of running a business.

Specialized knowledge and skills relevant to their job function.


High level of control over company direction, culture, and decisions.

Control is more limited to their job scope, with significant decisions often made by higher management.


There might be more differences than I have been able to mention here. For example, I kept aside relationships, health, and other factors that I thought were not necessarily related to mindset differences. Doing this exercise of pointing out employee vs. Founder mindset has helped me as well to revisit the first principles that led me to become a founder myself.

What do you think about these differences? Discuss this with your employee/founder friend and see what you find. I will be curious to know.


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