For the first 6 years of my career, I worked for Hewlett Packard, which, despite the occasional disappointing quarter, is a tremendously successful company. After that, I worked for a very small software company for 4 years and we were always profitable too.
Then, after the small company got bought by a medium-sized outfit, I got used to working for struggling corporations. There was occasional profitability, but mostly there was just struggle and faith. We'd cross our fingers each quarter and hope that our sales people got the right customers drunk enough.
That string of almost-profitable companies came to an end last year when the large German company gobbled them up. They were big and profitable. You'd think that would have led to stability for my career, but instead I jumped ship and joined an 18-person dot-com start-up. That's where I am now.
One of the things that's interesting about this start-up is that it doesn't make any money. I'm not merely saying that our revenues fail to exceed our expenditures or anything vaguely complex in accounting principles. I mean that that our company has no income. Zero. We spend money every month and we make exactly none of that back in revenue.
We make a free software product, and we give it away, and we support it, and we don't even have a PayPal "Donate" button on our website. We don't even really know how we will make money in the future. There are some ideas floating around, but all we know for sure is that there won't be any money rolling in for quite some time.
In fact, we discussed a decent idea at a recent company meeting that would be likely to bring in a small amount of revenue on a regular basis. The CEO immediately vetoed the idea. He explained that as soon as we go from zero revenue to any amount greater than zero, the Board of Directors will sit up and notice. Suddenly there will be pressure to increase that revenue each quarter and that we'll have entered a race that we're woefully unprepared to run.
So, no revenue for us. It's really weird.