I’m considering getting investors for my current business, zenbilling, and I just can’t seem to make up my mind.
On the surface, it seems like it should be fairly easy given that the product already exists, there are actual paying customers, and they’re super-happy and keep telling others about it, it’s profitable (depending on what I think my salary should be), and it’s in a market that’s proven by some big players, but they suck and their customers hate them, so the market should be ripe for something new.
But something’s making it hard for me to deal with.
On the surface level, there’s all the stories you hear in the technosphere.
I’m all for keeping the control, growing organically, bootstrapping, and all that. Hooray for DHH and 37signals. Being featured in 37s’s “Bootstrapped, profitable and proud” series would make me real, well, proud.
Also, I keep seeing all the acquisitions, and can’t think of many that turned out well when measured in terms other than $$$ to the owners. It seems like the founders get tired and leave, innovation stalls, and all the bullshit about synergy turns out to be just that – bullshit.
Besides, raising money takes a long time where you have to be focused on just that. And I hate doing something that doesn’t feel productive.
So all of that says “just stick it out and keep on bootstrapping”.
On the other hand, the product I’m building is not something that lends itself all that well to the 37signals approach of a minimal product “just above email”. The whole appeal of zenbilling is that it does (almost) everything you need in one system – that’s what customers love about it. And the vision I have for what it really could become requires quite some investment of resources.
But all of this is just the surface. There’s something deeper going on underneath.
Growing up, I made up a story that my dad didn’t want me the way I am, and that I had to be a certain way to get his love. And another story saying that people in authority will end up betraying my trust. I’m not saying these things are true. These are stories I made up inside my own head, based on some facts that I interpreted to be about me.
So I think the deeper issue around funding for zenbilling is that I’m afraid of authorities. I’m afraid of getting an investor that I will be accountable to. I know intellectually that I could do things in such a way that my investors basically have no say. But to my subconscious mind, they’d still feel like “parents” or authorities. And my subconscious tells me those are going to (a) try to shape me into something I’m not, and (b) betray me. You could see why there might be some internal conflict going on here.
Another story I have going on is that I can’t be trusted with money. I squander them. I’m irresponsible. I don’t know how to make them. I don’t know how to keep them. Again, I think I know where that story comes from, and it’s not really mine, but it sure feels like I’m doing my best to prove it, at times. And you could easily see, again, how having a subconscious belief like that might make the process of raising funds for a startup conflicted.
There’s always the fear, of course, that I’m the only messed up person, and everyone else out there is just fine, no such issues there. But when I look around me, I see that everyone has their own set of issues. And when I look at statistics that say that one in four has been the victim of sexual abuse, I’m thinking “holy, wow, I really can’t be the only person with issues”.
The point here is that there’s always something going on underneath the surface, in life, and in startups. And for consicous startups, one of the intentions is to clear away, or at least shed some light on, all of this old junk, so it doesn’t have to control our lives quite so much.
We come into this world and we make up stories based on a few facts. Stories like “I’m not good enough”, “authorities aren’t trustworthy”, “I can’t be trusted with money”, and so on. They’re not true, but they provide us with some fodder for the emotional experience called life.
I actually tend to believe that at a soul level, we arrange for these experiences so that we can heal it and transform it, not just for ourselves and our own past lifetimes, but also at the collective karma level. At least some days, I believe that.
So my soul has made this deal with my father’s soul to be the way he was so that I could finally resolve this. Perhaps it could’ve just as easily been the other way around, and we’d decided he’d be the son and I’d be the father. We’re all just playing roles in this big game called “life on planet earth”, anyway.
Of course, that’s not how it feels at all. It feels very real. The pain feels very real. The fear feels real, too. The whole “life on planet earth” game requires us to feel these emotions, not ignore or suppress them.