I’ve been thinking about this a lot, mostly because when you’re raising money, the question that everyone inevitably always asks is, what’s your valuation? And I never really know how to respond to that. Let me rephrase that. I know how to “answer” that (i.e. the appropriate response in the startup community) but at the back of my head, I just think it’s such a strange concept. Mostly because you have two parties involved that usually have completely different ways of looking at life. In addition to that, not only is it trying to put a “value” on something that, lets face it, at such an early stage who knows what to make of it, you’re adding a business layer to that which is, lets try to get the best bargain for myself (on both sides). Is anybody really interested in trying to get at the true “value” of whatever it is we’re talking about? I don’t know. And more importantly, does it even matter in this context? In this day and age, how are we really measuring value anyway? I mean, just look at the acquisitions that are happening, and the way a few new age stocks are trading at unheard of P/E ratios. We’re totally ok with all of this, and we’re encouraging it. So really, who is to say what is worth what?
For most people, I guess it really doesn’t matter. But for the few that do care, I think the really crappy part is that you are forced to take something that you think has intrinsic value for the world and put a number on it. It’s just like pricing a piece of art. An artist could have toiled for years and years and years, only to have her genius unrecognized, or (worse I think), sold at a price that she felt didn’t even come close to the blood, sweat, and tears she put in. But at the end of the day, you can’t live off smiles and goodwill, so you take what you can get and understand that the market may not be the best place to understand true artistic genius.
But then what happens if your business is your art? It’s the masterpiece you’re creating- your lasting legacy in the world? It’s your Piece de Resistance so to speak. What’s the line between business and art? Is there room for that? I mean, has anyone ever been successful at selling a dream?
In the end, none of this actually matters. Unfortunately, if you don’t make the money, you don’t make these decisions. I think the important thing for those of us on the other side to realize is that the only way to prove our worth is to…well, just do it. But more importantly, I think it’s figuring out how to ignore the outside world, and stay focused on your inner faith, the faith that you can create amazing things in this world, no matter what price anybody has put on your work. I suppose we’ve always been facing that: GPA’s, report cards, Mid Year Assessment Reports from bosses who may just hate your guts for no apparent reason. So we’ve had practice.
And I think at the end of the day, you fight for what you think reality should reflect, knowing that the results are not in your hands, but you did everything you could to hold your ground. But the most important thing: whatever the result, don’t pay attention to it. You know what you are worth. Successful people listen to that voice, and regardless of external factors, they single-mindedly create their art, their vision for a new and more promising future.
At least that’s what I figure anyway.