This is tricky, as I’m quoting Bryce Roberts who is quoting the CEO of Heath Ceramics in the video Bryce posted here:
People ask, “So, what’s your goal with Heath? Are you going to build it up and sell it?” But I really like my job. If I sold the company I wouldn’t have the job I like. How many people do you actually know who have a job they like?
For the record, I really like my job. And that is at the heart of the issues I have with external (non-customer) funding.
I’m conflicted. I can’t come to a conclusion about how I feel about funding.
This is an old conflict for me, by the way, one that goes back a decade to our first round of funding. At the time, I didn’t think much about it. Everyone said get funding or fall behind so I went after funding. I don’t think I even had the experience to question it. But now… it’s different.
Let me explain with simple pros and cons:
- Speed. Raising money allows a company to move faster than it could have before.
- Time. It (hypothetically) gives a company more time to build it’s business.
- Focus. It allows a company to focus on the long-term plans, rather than short-term necessities to make the next dollar.
- Ego. Feels good. Other people believe in your business enough to give you money. And it carries cache.
- Experience: The right investors can really bring significant experience to the company.
- De-Focus. While funding can let a company focus on long-term plans, too much money can also allow a company to focus on everything rather than the finite things that will make it successful.
- Funding Perceptions. Entrepreneurs, by nature, prescribe to the school of “Just Do It.” Funding makes this possible — just go do it and we’ll figure it out as we go. But market success requires understanding before doing. I have to know who I’m selling to, why they’re buying, and what product they will purchase before I can deliver them a product. It’s easy to forget this when there is plenty of money to play with.
- Accuracy and Precision. To be successful, a start-up must be accurate and precise. I must know where to aim and I need to roughly hit the same spot every time. Funding can distort the perception.
- Forced Decisions: Investors have one goal; the employees and founders of the company may have an alternative one.
I want to keep doing what I’m doing. I have a problem to solve — the world has changed but we still work with numbers they way we did in 1979 — I want to solve it, and I don’t want to move on until I do. I’ve tried many times now: FCPlus, powerOne, FastFigures, an education product that didn’t make it to market, a prototype of another that didn’t get productized, and now something new to be announced soon. The closest we have gotten is with powerOne.
I’m worried that taking money from outside investors will force me to make do things I don’t want to do. But the opportunity is big and I don’t want to miss the chance of taking it on and I could really use the help and guidance. And thus my conundrum.