Hey Startups: Don't Exaggerate Your Size

Before I co-founded my current company, 37signals, in 1999, I had a software and Web design business called Spinfree. The Internet was a fairly new and exotic phenomenon back then, and it was pretty easy to drum up clients willing to pay quite well to improve their nascent websites. Within a year or so, I had a nice client list, built entirely through word of mouth. I was just a year out of college and making a good living. While my friends were struggling with entry-level jobs they didn’t like, I was doing exactly what I wanted to do.

But Spinfree had a dirty little secret: It wasn’t really a “company.” It was just me. My headquarters consisted of a small desk a few feet from my bed in a cramped, one-bedroom apartment.

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