I have never owned a company that has taken outside investment, so I share these kind of one-sided tips without knowledge of both sides….but I have worked for a business that was acquired. That acquisition was really just a large investment from an outside company that I bet had one simple phrase written on their white board. “Return On Investment”. As much as an investor might say it and want it to be true…the people don’t really matter, the culture doesn’t really matter. The return is what matters. It makes sense. I mean think about your own investments. Do you care if the people in the trenches running the business are enjoying their lives? Do you care about their insignificant milestones and the fun they are having on their journey? Probably not. You care about the return.
So anyway – on to 5 things that are great about building a business without the help of outside investors (if it’s possible to do so).
1. You can design your company to make yourself happy, your family happy and your employees happy – which makes customers happy. People love to do business with happy, enthusiastic people. Investors ultimately do not care about your long-term happiness, they care about a return on their investment. Your customers can tell when you’re not happy.
2. You can ignore your competition completely – ultimately ending up with a very unique product influenced by no outside forces. Investors will worry their butts off about your competition, constantly reading about them and will likely “ping” you (often) about what they are up to and who they are now serving etc. It will distract you from your vision. (P.S the word ping is so tired, but it’s relevant to this post).
3. You can be truly unconventional in all aspects of your business. While investors are definitely risk takers by nature, they are not risky when it comes to execution. They will encourage you to be very conventional, doing things that have worked well for their other “investments” – only making your business more like everyone elses.
4. You can grow at a pace that is comfortable (and fun) for you to scale – and learn while you grow. It’s fun as heck to learn while you grow and figure stuff out along the way. Stuff you may undo – or you may keep. Investors don’t want you to learn while you go. That’s too risky. They will recommend people to help you, people who will hand you a playbook.
5. You can enjoy the journey. Growing a small business is an incredible journey with milestones that literally happen every week. Milestones that are fun to celebrate with your team and your family. Since we celebrate along the way and enjoy the journey, it’s not a means to an end. It’s incredibly satisfying to celebrate each and every milestone, no matter how small they are. Investors don’t care about insignificant milestones and having fun along the way. They want your business to become as valuable as it can be, as fast as it can, so they can exit and get their return.
I am loving the pace, the milestones and the journey. I am loving the fun of doing unconventional things without any pressure to do what has worked for others. I am pretty sure our customers appreciate it.
Here’s to enjoying the journey!