People who don't run your company

I asked a company the other day whether or not they were going to take advantage of a great event here in NYC.  Its an opportunity to pitch Sony on a biz dev deal--a no brainer for nearly any company given the scope of Sony's areas of interest.  (applications are due this Monday the 31st)

The company said no because their main angel investor didn't think it was a good idea to let an audience see their pitch.  He was afraid someone would steal the concept.  I asked them how they felt, and they knew that if all it took to replicate their idea was seeing their high level biz dev pitch, they wouldn't have much of a company.  Then I asked how much of the company the investor owned.  The answer?  None.  He was in on a convertible note and, if the note converted at the cap, it would be about 10%.   They knew it wasn't a controlling share, but it was the bulk of their angel capital and they couldn't have worked on their company without it.  They felt an allegiance to him to listen to how he thought the company should be run.

Its important to get feedback and advice from experienced people, especially stakeholders in your company, but it's even more important to realize that you run your company--no one else.  Ultimately, it's up to you, after careful consideration of advice from experienced people, to execute your vision, your plan, and build your company the way you want to.

None of the following people run your company:

Your lawyer - Remember that your lawyers work for you.  They advise.  You make the call.

Your board - Board members are representatives of the shareholders, or trusted independents.  They set CEO pay, change management, and approve options grants.  As long as you're still employed, you're making the calls.

Your investors - Investors take a minority stake after believing in you and betting on your vision.  You should listen to them, but they don't run the company.  That's how buyouts work, not venture.

Your advisors - Again... might be very smart, and you should listen, but...

Everybody - This is the worst group of people to let run your company because you don't know "everybody".  You may think that everybody thinks a certain way or does things using X method, but you need to do what's best for you.  "Everybody" is often wrong.

Users - If users ran Facebook, we'd have no newsfeed.