Starters – Injecting New Energy in the Family Business

Starters – Injecting New Energy in the Family Business
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In this Family Business Leadership Series, we discover the four Leadership Natures and explains how to unleash their highest potential. This article is dedicated to the second Leadership Nature, The Starter.

The Starter

Nancy’s daughter Rachel could always be counted on to run with a great idea. If she was really passionate about the concept she would adopt it early, feeling good about being ahead of the curve. Nancy knew Rachel didn’t have to create the idea herself, that wasn’t part of her nature. But Rachel always wanted to be part of something new.

So when Nancy brought forward the idea for a new product, she saw at an industry trade show, she knew Rachel would be excited about it. Given Rachel’s propensity for starting things but not completing them, Nancy had her create a business case for why she should be the one to implement the new product offering, albeit with the caveat that someone else would take over the reins once the product’s sales were growing.

Starters - Injecting New Energy in the Family Business

Starter Leaders are brilliant at taking the Visionaries ideas and seeing them come alive. A Starter can have great energy and “buys into” an idea, generating wonderful strategies to take the vision to market, and succeed at doing so. For companies that are driven by new products, Starters are invaluable. They love the challenge of a new idea and can translate their passion into action.

The need to control all aspects of the operation is part of a Starter’s natural strategy. However, this can inhibit them from actually growing a company. Sharing information, delegating responsibility, and building the appropriate systems and structures for growth can be challenging for them. Companies with Starter’s as the lead can struggle to reach their potential.

The nature of Starters is such that when something has been taken as far as it can go, they are ready to move on. Boredom sets in when the challenge is gone.

This behaviour can either be a problem or a gift depending on the number of revenue sources the company generates. For a one-service company, the Starter’s role is limited, as he or she has few opportunities to start new projects. But if there are new services or products on line, there is no better business for a Starter to be part of. Always be aware that their tendency is not to complete projects, their mind moves on to the next great idea.

The Paradox

The paradox is that though it is in their nature to always seek something new, they will often resist completion of the Startup phase. They may be seeking perfection, which can be demonstrated by a desire to constantly attempt to reinvent or improve on an idea, thereby becoming too attached. This lengthens the time it takes to move on, and critical moments can be missed. Remember by a Starter keeping the project in the Startup phase, he or she always have something to do. Meanwhile, the company is ready to move into growth phases of implementation or production, resulting in too many of the company’s resources being misdirected.

There can be an incongruence between what is said, promised and their behaviour. Focus on the Starter’s actions, he or she are not intentionally placing delays, rather just don’t know when it’s time to handover their commitment to others.

Starter Strengths

  • Very focused on goals and objectives
  • Passionate about getting things started
  • Able to implement others’ ideas
  • Action oriented
  • Visually oriented but also kinesthetic

Starter Weaknesses

  • Shorter attention spans
  • Difficulty with follow-through and maintaining projects
  • Concentration and interest wanes
  • Can be overwhelmed by complexity
  • Can limit resources and withhold information to others
  • May limit growth potential of the company

With Starters, tension can build between the company’s need for growth and the Starters need for control. But if the starter truly understands her nature as a Starter, she will get out of the way to allow the company to thrive. Many of the weaknesses will become redundant.

In some cases, Starters may in fact not go into the family business, as they may want to start something on their own. But if they do have an interest in the business, here’s what to do. Let’s begin by examining where they fit within the life cycle of the business.

Starters - Injecting New Energy in the Family Business

  • Naturally if the company is at the Start up phase, then it is obvious they can play a role, but there are other times as well.
  • During Growth: Starters are ideal for project implementation, new services or product launches. If they are in sales, have he or she open new markets.
  • At Maturity he or she may not play much of a role, however if new growth is required a Starter is ideal for new service or product launches, new direction, and market development
  • To a company in Turn-around mode, a Starter is invaluable.

To maximize a Starter’s nature try these strategies


  • Match their remuneration and bonuses to their start-up nature with some focus on completion
  • Hold them to high accountability on follow through
  • Give them leadership roles for start-up project implementation
  • Celebrate their nature and build a role around it, helping them develop other aspects of themselves at the same time
  • Make sure their understanding of business is high

A Starter within a family can be very valuable as they can re-energize a business with their ability to take ideas and make them real. Make sure that it is understood that they will be able to move onto other projects at some point. Be sure to tap into their energy and momentum to start something new.


Read the rest of the Family Business Leadership Series: