Dean Kamen

Sometimes it's good to be a sellout

February 25, 2011: 2:23 PM ET

Sometimes it's not. How to know when to be true to your vision, and when to grow your company at any cost.

By Katherine Reynolds Lewis, contributor

Company founders fall into two categories, according to Noam Wasserman, an associate professor at Harvard Business School. The "king" wants to build an empire and change the world, while a "rich" founder is motivated by financial gains and unleashing a company's growth potential.

Many entrepreneurs look at company founders like Apple's (AAPL) Steve Jobs -- who managed to grow his company into a behemoth while also maintaining control -- and assume it's possible to be both a king and rich. In reality, "99% of those founders are going to be facing, at some point, a choice between one and the other," Wasserman says. "Hopefully they're picking the fork in the road that is much more consistent with what their goals and aspirations are."

It's important to understand what type you identify with most to navigate the key decisions that will arise during any entrepreneurial venture, Wasserman says. King founders find it difficult to share control and can be very stubborn when facts on the ground challenge their vision. Rich founders are motivated by the practical rewards of entrepreneurship, whether it's money or freedom, and are more likely to share control as their venture grows and changes. More

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