A few months ago, I realized something crucial to my future. While I was in Portland for WDS, I thought long and hard about the business models at work in my life.
2. I have worked hard at growing my startup by doing what each day requires of me. It feels important.
Truth be told, I will always choose my writing over the startup, but, sometimes, the work (and the show) must go on. Making those two business models work together is really freaking hard.
As I sat in Portland reflecting on how to balance these two parts of my life, I came to an important conclusion:
What I love about my startup is that each team member focuses on the activity they love the most. My value isn’t just design strategy & creative ideas. My value is in connecting this team with work they love.
It may seem crazy, but that’s enough to make me happy.
Surviving Without Money
Welcome to my startup. Cash is scarce, but culture is not.
The title of this post will most probably have made most of you highly uncomfortable. It’s almost as if the search for money comes ingrained in the human DNA. It’s part of the human’s need for survival.
It’s not actually our fault! It’s part of our brain chemistry! It will continue nagging us forever, regardless of being right or wrong — so I choose to ignore it completely.
I know that, as a company, there’s no real way to continue operating without cash if there are expenses. So, with three full-time employees and lots of other part-time stuff going on, how is a startup to survive?
- Passive income through mobile apps helps. Hopefully this will create more profits over time.
- Not focusing on your core mission. Totally guilty of this and funding core projects with non-core distractions. Sustainable, yes — profitable, no.
- Spending close to zilch is the startup Mecca. “Bootstrapping” is a term bouncing all over the web lately, but I think that making strict decisions about not spending money on creating culture is an important one.
Conversations create culture, not retreats and lunches.
The Culture Myth
Many big-timers spend way too much throwing money at problems instead of conversing with key team members.
It’s just normal at my startup to throw around a yellow stress ball whenever times get tough.
It’s just normal at my startup to throw around difficult questions whenever faces get long and the work gets overwhelming.
It’s just normal at my startup to throw around 1,000 links a minute. “Have you seen ____.com? It’s awesome!” Huge distraction, but great collaboration.
It doesn’t take money. It doesn’t take power struggles and unhappiness. It takes friendship, boundaries, and encouragement.
Culture takes contribution. Are you contributing?
All That Really Matters
This week, the Marca Labs team & I will be holed up in our office for a hackathon for what will probably feel like way too long (or from Wednesday to Friday).
I know what you are thinking.
“Who the hell would want to work for days on end with very little sleep? Marcella is becoming a tyrant boss!”
The truth is it wasn’t my idea. The team came up with it. They want to stay at work and hardly sleep. They want to embark on this crazy techie journey for three days straight.
And you know what? If the team isn’t sleeping, then neither will I.
If I disappear later this week, you know where to find me — trying to write while running hackathon.
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