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Damn You 37 Signals! Or not?!


Hey all, had to share this “A-Ha!” moment I had this week.

There’s a great little post over at Medium called The Myth of the Design Studio Turned Product Company in which Richard Banfield of Fresh Tilled Soil discusses how they tried to create product like a startup and failed.

At first I agreed with many of things he said and just shrugged it off as another, “oh well, startup life is hard” post. But then I saw the replies from Amy Hoy (here and here) and Allan Branch’s post over that away.

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. This whole time we’ve been trying to spin off products like a startup at my company, when in actuality we’ve already been building our business correctly from the get go. You see, since we started our company 4 years ago, we’ve grown in revenue each year almost exactly at around 30% more than the previous year.

I’ve no issue in building a slow growth that can grow our company over time. So I guess what I’m now realizing is that I could give 2 craps about who got acquired for what amount of money anymore. I’m going back to focusing on building the business, not just the product (not that I ever really left).

Anyone else been distracted by the glitz and valuations of the startup world or am I just a sucker?


37Signals did it this way should never be the answer to any bootstrapping question. They’re such an outlier that very little of it is directly useful because so much of their success is caught up in the time they gained traction. You can’t really replicate being in the right place at the right time as a plan.

The info they produce now is good and all, but looking back historically at them doesn’t seem particularly useful to me in terms of strategy.

On your actual questions, I think this is the glory time for consultants. Nearly everyone you talk to is booked and has to add people to keep up. So it seems like there’s a lot of money out there to build websites/apps/etc. You get way more money than an OK product with much less risk of a dud and since the chance at a world beater product is slim it seems to me that sticking with consulting is a good strategy these days.

Heck, I’ve thought about us taking on consulting just because it seems like people are shooting fish in a barrel :smile:

Side projects are also really hard, once you have someone paying you for anything you pretty much have to do a lot of work. At the very least provide support, keep the service up. Both of which can be pretty significant distractions from the consulting business if you’re small.