This may be apocryphal, but when I was growing up in Rhode Island, there was a story about this guy who ran for Lieutenant Governor with one campaign promise — if elected, he would eliminate the position of Lieutenant Governor. While I don’t know if that would have been good policy or not, I’ll always remember being impressed by the inherent integrity of the whole thing.
This year, as we put together the 2014 plan for Efficiency Exchange (EEx), I found myself in a similar position. For the last 16 months, I’ve been working full-time at EEx, and in my own humble opinion, I’ve done a great job! We made our first hires, created a great brand, designed and built and very cool, useful application, released three subsequent iterations, got our first customers, got lots of great press, and set up all kinds of important infrastructure (CRM! E-mail lists! Internal portal!) we now use every day. And of course… that means I’m not nearly as important as I used to be, when we didn’t have any of those things.
EEx is more than just where I work, or where I get money to spend on guitar strings. It’s an enormous part of my life, and it’s something I helped build from the ground up. And to be blunt, a lot of people in my situation don’t feel that way about what they’re doing — they’re really just “playing startup”, and any significant amount of self-sacrifice really isn’t part of that.
That’s very much not what we’re doing at EEx. And it means we need to focus our fire, and our money, on the things that give our company the best chance to be successful, and more importantly, drive the kind of change that inspired us to start the whole thing in the first place. In 2014, that focus should not be on fundraising, product development, or marketing. It should be on good, old fashioned sales to our China customer base — which means paying a full-time American Marketing/Product Dev. Director is probably not the best thing for the company.
So we’re not going to do that anymore, and here I stand before you today.
This is definitely a little weird for me. Since we started in 2009, the role of EEx in my life (and my association with it) grew inexorably, which made sense, because EEx needed more and more things from me. Today, it needs a little less, so that’s what I’m going to give it. I’ll still be working — unpaid — for EEx in whatever capacity it needs. I’m still designing great new features and planning future releases. I’m still working on our website, email campaigns, and updates to the EEx Charge application itself. But I’ll be taking a step back from day to day operations, and letting my beloved company and our great team put money and focus into the things that will ultimately define whether we’ll be successful or not over the next year.
Good decisions don’t have to feel great, or even especially satisfying. They just have to feel right, and fortunately for me, this one does. Now we see what’s next.