The big idea behind startups is that a small number of people can grow a business enormously in a short period of time.
Yet here I am on my fifth startup and it feels like I’ve only begun to understand what it takes to grow.
When you’re writing or programming, you’re constantly fighting complexity. You add, things become unwieldy you take away. When you first start out you can get carried away producing. It’s fun! As you get older you take more and more joy in simplifying and cutting.
Growth brings complexity. The simple systems you have now will have to be split apart into separate systems. Small headaches will grow into big headaches. Jobs that one person could accomplish on their own will spread out to teams of people.
As a programmer, in my heart of hearts, I don’t want any of that. I want simplicity. The fervent wish I’ve had (and never really admitted to myself) is to be able to just build something and have millions (billions?) of people use it without having to deal with the stress of millions (billions?) of users.
To grow is to be uncomfortable. To seek growth is to seek discomfort.
The past two years of growth have been exciting. There have been some times of peak stress and downright hilarious times (if you can’t laugh at a mistaken billing change bringing down your whole cloud project, you don’t have a sense of humor). It has not been comfortable.
So, as I look at the spreadsheets telling me that to accelerate growth we’re going to have to invest in growing the team even more, I have to tamp down my urge to turn back the clock, to stagnate. Six months from now I will be glad we made these moves!