I used to work for an incredible dot com, Terabeam. We made gigabit Ethernet laser hubs that could connect buildings blocks and blocks apart, without radio licenses, without digging up streets and without phone companies. But we never got the price point right and our burn rate with 400+ employees was incredible and layoffs came in 2001. Round after round after round.
I made it to round 4.
I came away from that with anxiety about profitability, which was later compounded by the bottom line obsession at a large medical device manufacturer and trying to get our own little company going.
I believed that maybe if everyone worried about profitability maybe Terabeam’s fate could have been avoided. Maybe if I could have learned how to price my time better our little company would have made it.
And so I argued with an esteemed coworker this past weekend that everyone should worry about profitability. Everyone should fear killing the fragile golden goose. I was sure I was right then, but the more I think about it, I am not so sure. Not at all.
It comes down to trusting my leaders to make sound financial decisions and for me to let go of the layoff-triggered need to control and avoid that happening again. As an engineer I should strive for cost effective, innovative software that securely meets our users needs, and I should be prudent with my expenses, but I think now that I have been worrying about profits WAY too much, and should instead fixate on what I can create or improve.
I feel some creative energy freeing up already. Blogging one’s way through a 14 year old scar can be so… freeing.