Investors always have the same goal: to make money. When a company relies on investors, that goal is where decisions begin and end. Whatever management's ambitions may be, when the investors say "jump", everyone has to jump.
Especially if you are in the tech industry, you've likely seen the please-the-investors drama play itself out many times. But have you ever wondered how your day-to-day work experience might be different in a completely self-funded company? Does the slower, harder, less-traveled route of organic growth bear any fruit?
At Rotunda, we have grown completely organically – we have no investors and zero debt – and what we've found is that the fruit of self-sufficiency is freedom.
In a self-funded company, you have the freedom to set your own priorities and live according to your own values. Hundreds of value-based decisions made every day then have a dramatic impact on what it feels like to do your job.
For example, at Rotunda, we've always believed that what we do matters, and have sought out strategies that allow us to have a positive impact on the world. So when you go to work, you know that you are driving towards something that's going to be valuable and meaningful, not just chasing growth or dollars.
We also hold service above profit. If you're in sales, that means you're encouraging users to use our products only if it makes sense for them. Imagine how it feels to be a salesperson encouraged to put the well-being of your customers before meeting your quota.
We also feel that our work is our art. We don't cut corners. If you are a developer, you get the time you need to refactor good code into great code, or explore totally new ways of doing things. If taking that extra time means we can't meet a deadline, then we'll extend the deadline.
To the extent a company relies on investor money, the profit police set the rules. In a self-funded company, our better angels can guide our decision making processes, without interference, and that coherence is felt every day. Here are some examples given by employees of how their experience is affected by Rotunda being self-funded:
"Everyone’s opinion counts and never gets trumped by an investor's perspective."
– Jonathan, Lead Dev-ops Developer
"As an employee, you're important, have input, and feel valued, and as a company we make decisions that are driven by our values. It feels more like a family and less like a machine."
– Beau, Client Service Specialist
"You have room to suggest how we can improve and that’s truly taken into consideration. It makes our development work more like a craft."
– Alejandro, Front End Developer
"We prioritize activities based on long term vision, not just a quick return on a cash investment."
– Nico, Front End Developer
"It gives us a lot of freedom to work on the projects we want to work on, and put our clients' best interest first."
– Max, President
"We can take the time to develop the best code for our users."
– Hernan, Full Stack Developer
"It allows me to grow in ways that are natural to me and not have to fit into a predefined mold of what a role should look like."
– Raina, Director of Technical Support
So, the next time an employer tries to impress you with the size of their latest funding round, remember there are two sides to all those coins. The fruit of self-sufficiency is damn sweet.