For a long time, my goal with Buttondown was largely around failure avoidance: "I want to get my first paying customer so I know it's not a fake product"; "I want to hit a thousand dollars in revenue so I know it's not just friends humoring me"; "I want to make $10K/mo or else I won't be able to work on it full-time if I want to"; and so on. It's now at the point where those kinds of milestones don't really exist: it's profitable enough to support my salary and the salary of others, it grows every month.

As such, I've become more attuned to what my goal really should be with Buttondown. Most tech companies have a goal centered around some flavor of maximalism: disrupting an industry, revolutionizing a process, that kind of thing. Buttondown is not that kind of product; I am not that kind of person.

And yet I do want Buttondown to grow larger than it currently is: not by leaps and bounds, of course, but there are things that I think make it a better product that require further investment [1] and I genuinely think there are a lot of people out there who would be happier using Buttondown than using their current tool. Both of those things imply a size of company that is larger than Buttondown's current size. (I'm also having a lot of conversations with folks considering striking out on their own who are doing this brand of soul-searching, and realizing that their goals — "leave my nine-to-five and do whatever I want" are no longer my own.)

Right now, I think the answer for all of this is something like the following: I want Buttondown to grow and flourish specifically to validate and proselytize a slightly different model of software company: one that uses all the amazing things about software (negligible marginal costs! the infinite breadth of the internet!) to build high-value, sustainable tools for customers and doing so in a way that is fair and rewarding to employees. It seems almost trivializing to write that, but it's legitimately true. I think the world would be a better place if there were more smaller, older software companies focused on craftsmanship, and I think the best way to help catalyze that world is by building such a company.

My friend Nick pithily summed up his approach:

Our philosophy:

  1. Sustainable business
  2. Sustainable team (high quality of life)
  3. Without compromising those two, grow our positive impact on people

  1. In the figurative sense, not the literal one — I promise this is not a backdoor announcement of a Series A. ↩︎

Lightning bolt
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