A little over two months ago I wrote that I wouldn’t shave until my company turned a profit. A lot of people liked it, but not everyone did. I expected that. I decided that I would follow the thread of truth wherever it led, even around the murky bends that are difficult to write about.
The layoff piece in particular struck a chord. I got a lot of feedback from distant friends, and even an early Scripted writer. This is what he wrote:
Truth is hard to find. It’s also hard to hear. I’m finding that honesty is a great filter. The people who I respect and want to spend more time with and learn more from respond well to it. They engage with me, ask questions, and make me probe deeper. I really appreciate it.
So here’s some more honesty: we’re not yet profitable, but I shaved anyway because we’re damn close. Also that beard was making my face itch all the time.
That itching was kind of the point. I knew making a run for profitability would not be comfortable. There would be hard decisions to make and things to say no to that we otherwise wouldn’t say no to. That’s the discipline I really truly honestly believe was missing for the last three years at Scripted. We gained investor money and lost our grip on reality. We’re not alone, to be sure, but that doesn’t lessen the blow. We could have and should have learned from the mistakes of others.
Last month we did more revenue per dollar spent than we’ve ever done. We had 3X the membership revenue in March 2017 than we did in May 2016, and we did it with one quarter of the sales and marketing spend.
In other words, we made a 300% increase in revenue while simultaneously decreasing revenue acquisition spend by 75%.
Our profit also beat our payroll for the first time in years, maybe ever. It’s remarkable, really. So I shaved.
I hope these are the last selfies I ever post online. I’m including them only because it’s the best picture I have of my personal development over the last couple of months. My beard grew in thick. I got compliments, but it’s not me (and neither is the mustache.)
I think the best part of this profitability process, and the one that will stay with me for the rest of my career is that I really, really like running a normal, profitable business. One that cares, a lot, about how much money it’s making and losing every month and is working every day to narrow the gap. In that sense we’re like the millions of SMBs outside of Silicon Valley, and I think that’s a very good thing.
Growth is great. When high growth leads to big companies, that’s great too. It can happen naturally when your product works and makes people happy.
I no longer want to grow to become a public company with hundreds of employees and multiple offices. If Scripted ever gets there, I can guarantee that I won’t be CEO at that point. It’s just not me. It’s not what I want to do, it’s not what’s interesting to me, and I don’t need the money or the prestige you get from doing it.
As for what’s next in the immediate future for Scripted, it’s all good news, but I’m not saying what it is yet.
If there’s one thing you can count on, though, it’s that Scripted don’t quit.