Can an ex-startup founder ever be a happy employee?

Sold my last startup to an interested party due to feeling stressed/burnt out as a solo founder. Got a job at another startup thinking it’d be great.

A position with lots of responsibility without the stress of being a founder? Sounded perfect.

I’m a fast-paced worker. Like to execute new ideas quickly. But even though I’m working for a small startup, it sometimes takes weeks for new ideas to be approved, even though I’m technical and could deliver right away.

It’s not much different than working for a large corporation. Everyone on the team (yes, the team—not the department) needs to have their say before anything gets pushed through. It’s unproductive and I’ve voiced my concerns, to no avail.

I miss the days of having the freedom to try new things and deliver quickly, as long as it was in the company’s best interest.

After trying really hard not to go the founder route again, I’m already working on a side project on weekends because it at least gives me the freedom to execute and feel excited + alive.

Has anybody else had a hard time adjusting to becoming an employee after being a founder? Is this normal?

  • Too late my friend, you have entrepreneur blood in you. True entrepreneurs have a hard time working for someone else, which is why most that have been bought by the big guys leave after a year or two. You have tasted freedom and building. Perhaps on this trip around, you might learn to outsource better, so there won’t be that much pressure on you once you build. Read the Once you build the system, and get all the parts moving, you should be able to be less stressed out. Also, take the pressure off yourself to be the next Zuckerberg, or billion dollar company. Start small and build slowly, so you can handle the growth.

    • +1 to this.

      It’s a wonderful and infective virus in your blood, but it does have the drawback of being unable to be happy for very long working for someone else.

      If you get a chance contact me via email.

  • I am in the exact same position as you. I founded a sofware co. as CTO that is doing well. Left because I didn’t like going from Founder (in charge of all) to partnering and just being CTO. I’m technical, have a C.S. background – but found I enjoy running the business more. I am now helping a local fast growing startup – but it’s not for me. If the project is not mine, I don’t have the same energy or passion.

  • +1

    I am going from a struggling founder to an acquihire with good salary and great small team. Even though I should be ecstatic, all I can think of is the next startup idea.

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