Layover Companies

What if I told you that you’re stupid for for investing in mutual funds? In a savings account? In CDs, bonds or TIPS?

What if I told you that the true path to financial success and freedom is the lotto?

The lotto.

Fuck 4-8% return every year, you’re a man. You want the big money. You want the thrill of risking everything on the long shot. Pulling out the win against all odds.

So what if the odds are stacked against you? Real men take them on and spit in their eye. And yeah, you’ll spend more money chasing the pot of gold than if you went the safe route, but you’re not in it for nickels and dimes. You want folding money. You wanna make it rain.

This is, of course, stupid. No one would ever tell you the path to financial independence & freedom is the lotto. Yet, every day hundreds of entrepreneurs are being given this same advice. Except it’s not “go for the lotto”, it’s “avoid creating a lifestyle company”.

A lifestyle company?

Around the tech startup / entrepreneurial community, it’s a backhanded label. It means that you have no interest in your company “popping”, hockey stick growth or any number of other bs euphemisms for striking it rich. You’re not thinking about your exit strategy. You’re not worried about how to get to a billion in revenue. You’re not in it be the man or to change to world. You just want to run your own company. As long as it pays your salary, you’re happy. “That’s a cute hobby” they’ll say.

A hobby

In reality, it’s a pat on the head and a “wait over there while the real men talk.” You’re not in Business (with a capital B), you’re in business (little b). It means you’re not playing the game. You’re content to dink and dunk your way to success using singles rather step up, grab your crotch, wink at the prom queen and take your swing, hoping for a home run. Like a man. LIKE A BOSS.

Except it’s still a lotto ticket. The difference is perception. It’s ok to fail at your moonshot company because everybody does! 9 out of 10 startups fail after all! Sitting around with the other lotto ticket holders, knocking back a few, talking about how tough a company is to run is the norm. Everyone’s dream, after all, is to start the company, blow it up and get out after 3 or 4 years. Next!

3-4 years? I’ve never understood having an expiration date on a company. Yet, for a lot of entrepreneurs, they do just that. The message is clear: I’m here for the time being until I can get out and get to where I really want to go. ( Most likely, it’s a beach & umbrella drinks. The standard founder destination. )

Again: I’m here for the time being until I can get out and get to where I really want to go.

What’s that sound like to you? To me it’s a layover in an airport. So from now on, that’s what I’m calling these companies.

Layover Companies

Sure, just pay me then.

Brad Feld on implied suspicion vs. implied trust:

Entrepreneur: Following is an email describing my idea. Since you won’t sign an NDA, you agree that by reading beyond this paragraph you are agreeing not to share my idea with anyone, forward this email to anyone, or discuss the idea without my consent.

Me: I have not read past the end of the first paragraph (“”). I have permanently deleted this email from my inbox.

Entrepreneur: Why aren’t you willing to read my email?

Me: I’m unwilling to have an implied NDA applied to me via your email. You seem to be operating from a perspective of “implied suspicion.” I don’t work this way – I much prefer to operate from a perspective of “implied trust.” Since you clearly don’t trust that I’ll behave responsibly, then I don’t think I’m a good match for working with you.

Amen. Almost every single person I meet with wants me to sign an NDA. I either give them a flat out ‘No’ or I tell them they’re going to be paying for my time. The latter usually draws scoffs. However, if what you’re telling me is so critical to your company that you need an NDA to protect it, then my expertise is coming into play and I should be paid for that. Simple as that. Wanting to get an NDA to protect yourself, but not pay me just says that you want free consulting and don’t respect my time.

If you want to meet with me and discuss things, please don’t think that you’re doing me a favor. I’ll respect your time if you respect mine.