Before I dive into this post I want to make a few things clear:
- I am not referring to freelancers or folks in the service business. Frankly, if you are not bootstrapping (at least in the beginning) you are a moron. Grade A Idiot, as my dad used to say. (Not really, I just wish my dad would use cool lines like that, so I could tweet them and get a god damn show. Seriously, what is this world coming to?)
- I am not being “shocking” or “Dave McClure-ian” by using words like: bullshit, fucking, moron or venture capital.
- I am also not speaking specifically about the choice of taking (or not taking) investment in building a business.
What I am talking about is the fucking bullshit beliefs that seem to permeate the Bootstrapping world.
There is no special badge on Foursquare if you have bootstrapped your startup to success. There is no slight you are afforded because you bootstrapped. Venture capital is not evil. You are not good. You havent “beaten the odds.” You arent better, or worse, than other entrepreneurs.
The concept of bootstrapping is solid. To be clear, a bootstrapped business is one that is completely self-funded either by its founders or by the revenue it generates (usually a mix of both) and the expectation is that the growth of the company is usually slower than if the same business had received investment.
Im assuming that because entrepreneurs that have bootstrapped their businesses believe that have undertaken a Herculean effort, their success is somehow more valuable than the entrepreneur that took investment.
“Its all about the exit.” bootstrappers say. ” I would rather than 100% of a small exit, than 10% of a large exit.”
To that, I say, “cool. But, please shut the fuck up about it.”
I know that bootstrapping is hard. I know that there is even an art to it. Ive bootstrapped a business. I built a company on credit cards and had a successful exit. I get the awesome-ness of bootstrapping.
What I dont get is the attitude that mooching is awesome (Im sorry, I mean “free-sourcing”). I dont understand why exploiting young talent (oops, I meant “outsourcing to less experienced freelancers”) rocks. I am mystified how the concept of micromanaged control (damn, I mean “freedom from a board”) somehow ensures success.
Go be that entrepreneur that finances their own success, drives towards profitability quickly, and focuses on lean startup principles to accelerate your business.
Be proud of your ability to build a business with no outside help. Just dont be That Guy. Because those guys are not bootstrappers, they are dicks.
- Bootstrapped, profitable & proud (marsdd.com)
- The Art of Bootstrapping: Funding Startups the hard Way – Part 1 (wolpers.posterous.com)
- Here’s How I Bootstrapped My Company To 25 Employees In 3 Countries In 4 Years (businessinsider.com)
- Five reasons to consider venture capital (jondale.com)
- Optimize for Happiness (Followup to my Startup School talk) (tom.preston-werner.com)
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Today an interesting conversation on twitter broke out among men and women about dating and relationships. Its an topic that has been bouncing around in my brain for some time recently.
Well, I am 36 years old and single. In Jew years, 36 is the point where I am either on my second marriage, or have kicked out 3 or so kids. Not single. In Jew years, I am the family member that people whisper “Yeah, Micah is not married yet. But look how successful he is! Whats that? No, we are pretty sure he is not gay.”
Some could argue that my pets are like my children. I do have 5 animals, two dogs and three cats.
But I will never beat up Billie‘s first boyfriend because he looked at her the wrong way.
I wont get a chance to remind Taylor that even though she is an athlete, boys will still like her.
I wont be able to bail Winston out of jail for joy riding with his friends.
I cant take Calin to get her first bra or buy birth control.
And, I will never be able to show how much I accept Max‘s life style or his new boyfriend (I am pretty sure my cat is gay) or see the shock in my grandmother’s face when they visit for the first time.
Most importantly, I continue to get the questions from my mom and grandmother. “Have you met any nice Jewish girls?”
“Yes, mom and grandmom,” I usually reply, “but they just havent met me yet. Right, its called the internet…”
The question that so many people have asked me, is, “why.”
“Why, Micah, I know plenty of women that are interested in you. I know plenty that have asked about you. Have you never had a serious girlfriend? Do you not date? Is there something wrong with you?”
Frankly, yes. Its called a brain defect.
You see, for most of my life, I have existed in one of two states. Manic or Depressed. When Manic, I loved it, but its a self-centered state of motion. You are constantly doing, talking, moving, creating, thinking….
Leaves little room for listening, accepting and all the other things that a relationship needs.
Or Depressed. For me, depression means: irritability, paranoia and lethargy.
Really great qualities for a relationship.
So early on, I gave up on the possibility of a relationship. Stopped trying, avoided situations and made myself completely unavailable.
That is until 6 months ago or so. Finally after years of self-medication, sobriety and therapy, I conceded to go to a shrink. I was finally ok with admitting that there was something physical wrong with me.
That I was not normal.
That I was broken.
That I was finally tired of trying on my own.
That if there was a pill or series of pills I could take to stop the mood cycles, I would do it.
So I went to a shrink. He spent an hour asking me questions, and at the end of the conversation. He said, “You have all the symptoms and signs of classic bi-polar II, or soft bi-polar.”
He spent another 30 minutes or so explaining what that meant. And he handing me a prescription.
I left his office and called my mom. I told her what the doctor said. And I cried.
The weight of 36 years of personal control of my feelings and moods slowly lifted, and it was like nothing I had ever experienced before. I knew, just knew, that the doctor was right, and there was a light at the end of my tunnel.
Over the next six months, I continued to visit the shrink every couple of weeks, and a therapist weekly. I learned more about my disease, read a book called Why Am I Still Depressed? By Jim Phelps, which was like watching a film of my life and behaviors.
Each time I learned something new, I felt the need to be in complete control lift just a bit.
Then in about April or so, I decided I was ready to be open to others.
And while I am not married, or even seriously dating anyone, I am learning a ton. My sister said to me the other day, “Micah, its like you are smashing 36 years of emotional growth into 6 months. You are learning quickly, but its still about experiences.”
I think thats right. Education is not just thinking and learning, but its experiencing. Im working on that part where I can (its not like I can grab women off the street, exclaim “date me! I need the experience!” Although, sometimes that would make it easier….)
Instead, I ask lots of questions. (It seems to be safer, and less likely to bring restraining orders and police.)
Instead, I put myself out there.
Instead, I am allowing myself to be open to the possibilities, to accept hope and be vulnerable to the pain.
Instead, I refuse to go back to the comfortable life of throwing myself into my work, and allowing people to be superficially friends with me.
Instead, I write this blog, and tell the world, “this is me.”
And, I kinda like me.
Now I am accepting hope. The hope that one day, my mom will no longer be asking me if I have met any nice women, but rather will just telling me about how worried she is about my weight.
Oh, that will be a nice day.
Today marks a very important day. Today I feel like the luckiest man alive…because today I officially became the #1 douchebag in the world.
I will remember the struggle fondly. It was long and hard, and full of obstacles. There was the women in the wheelchair that I didnt help across the street for fear of scuffing my shoes. There was the nice young lady I took out to dinner, only to ask her to pay for the exact amount of her food (which I deftly calculated on my brand new iPhone).
Man, it was hard.
And its so difficult to put into words my feelings right now, so instead, I took a picture:
I think it says it all. And now that I have achieved my lofty goal, I have realized a vital reality that could only be discovered once the douchebag mountain was claimed.
The douchebag has jumped the shark.
That right. Its done, its over. The fat lady has sung. I am over it.
But, is it the end? I dunno. I think that I could take another mountain. I think that I could pass the douchebag crown to someone else, (perhaps Grant Robertson?) and move on to something new.
I dont know what path I should follow. So I ask you, my Douchebag-anics, whats the next next? Whats Douchebag 2.0?
Leave your thoughts in the comments.
(Personally, I am hoping for numbnuts.)