LYLE BALL, CEO OF AVII, a tax and accounting solutions software company, has always considered himself to be entrepreneurial-minded. It was this love of helping people and creating meaningful products that drove him to launch, and self-fund, several different ventures throughout his career, the most recent being Avii, formerly named Net Endeavor.
"My two business partners had self-funded Net Endeavor until the point when I joined," Ball says. "Then we morphed into this new entity called Avii. And Avii, and this entire platform is self-funded. We've put just under three million dollars into it."
Though there have been several instances when self-funding meant that Ball could not accept a salary while the startups were getting up off the ground, he knows that regardless of the struggle, self-funding was the best way to meet the desired outcome of his companies.
SELF-FUNDING GIVES COMPANIES MORE CONTROL
"More than two years of my 27-year career I've been without income," says Ball, mentioning that living within their means and support from his similarly-minded entrepreneurial wife is what kept his family afloat. Fortunately, he says, he never had to go without a salary at Avii. However, having to do so in other entrepreneurial ventures provided him with valuable experiences that changed the way he thought about funding new business endeavors.
"[An important part of business] is not taking funding and deluding yourself too early. If one of your goals is to just make money, then taking capital, using it quickly, and cashing out may be an option," he says. "But for me, I always wanted to build things that were long-term and lasted. And that meant I wanted to be around those things a little longer."
Self-funding gave him that opportunity.
"For me, self-funding is a strategic decision," he says. "I valued [self-funding] as the best choice [for Avii], so, therefore, it wasn't hard for me," he says. "I respect [other people's funding] in the same way that I do my own. The same things that are hard in other [venture capital funded] businesses can be hard for me when self-funding my own businesses."
He mentions how things like market shifts and other catastrophes (such as COVID-19) are hard for any startup to weather and manage--regardless of whether they are self-funded or not. Venture capital can't always save you in these circumstances, he says, so it's better to learn to adapt and go without. By self-funding, Avii had the chance to truly develop its vision and culture. If they had elected to take capital elsewhere they may have lost some of that freedom.
"It's all about ownership of the company, so long as you are a majority...