Funding isn’t your mission; building your business is.

Entrepreneurs do what they do for a variety of reasons. For freedom, flexibility, as a creative outlet, or simply because they see things differently and don’t want to be told otherwise. Some claim they aren’t “doing it for the money” but however you slice it, we all want a bigger piece of the pie.

I just finished reading a good article titled The case for bootstrapping: building and selling a startup without a cent of funding, and it made me think of all the times I asked the “bigger pie” question: which you would you rather have, a small slice of a bigger pie or a big old slice of nothing? The answer is a lot more nuanced than “more pie good”, as it depends on your risk tolerance, your expectations and confidence in your ability to build a sustainable — and profitable — business.

Many start-ups I meet with are so focused on trading slices before the pie is even baked that they forget that their most important job is building their business. Yes, funding is an important part of the recipe for many businesses, particularly today’s rocket powered SaaS growth engines that are shooting for the moon. But this isn’t the only path to success, and you are rarely left with a pie big enough for everyone to share without someone being left hungry.

I bootstrapped my first business, draining my own limited financial reserves to get started. I pulled together a small team of like-minded friends and colleagues and set out to build a profitable business from day one. We only invested in assets and activities that contributed to profitable growth. Six years later we sold the business, and the pie was all ours. It wasn’t a giant feed-the-neighborhood kind of pie, but we weren’t trying to bake one. We focused intently on solving specific problems in a niche enterprise market and avoided the distraction of outside funding because we didn’t need it.

You don’t have to swing for the fences every time. A solid single or double can be rewarding too. You may not make the headlines, but there is nothing wrong with celebrating a win with a big chunk of your own damn pie.

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