Aaron Brethorst

Round peg in a square hole, rabid generalist.

The ‘big’ Payoff

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Hillel Cooperman (who is one of my heroes, by the way) writes what I think is the best-and most sobering-blog post I’ve read in a very long time. Bear in mind that when I say “sobering,” I don’t mean it in a ‘screw your startup dreams and go become an accountant’ sort of way. Instead, I think it’s critically important to have a solid understanding of your goals and the practicality of accomplishing them. It seems that Microsoft doesn’t go after any market which is not or will not evolve into a billion dollar business. Bear in mind that there is nothing inherently wrong with this, but I don’t believe that building a billion dollar business is the end all or be all of financial calculations.

[A]re you going to hire a lot of people? Don’t you want to scale up? Don’t you want to be a billion dollar business? A 100 million dollar business? Go public? I string together a series of polite “no”s for them…

For example, I make enough on iRooster to pay for my car and car insurance (and remember I’m under 25, so my car insurance payments are friggin’ ridiculous), plus a little extra left over for beer (but not enough to bring me over the 0.08 B/A limit :) ). I’m perfectly fine with this situation; I’d love to make more money from iRooster, but I don’t lose sleep over it.

When I go searching for new products (or web apps) to create, I tend to think about it from the perspective of building a $50,000 or $100,000 business (a million would be fantastic, but working 60 hour weeks tends to preclude that sort of thing). I love my day job, and don’t want to give it up, but I still love to create new stuff in my spare time. Building a sustainable “lifestyle” business while maintaining my day job is what I strive towards. Increasing my income by 8-10%? That’s neat. Doubling my income would be fantastic.

Anyway, I think Hillel’s words (and Tim O’Reilly’s, as well, which prompted Hillel) are worth taking to heart.