Learning to Say No

A word full of negativity, and a taboo for the sales persons. Learning to say No is something we as a company

 · 2 min read

A word full of negativity, and a taboo for the sales persons. Learning to say No is something we as a company have learnt hard way. This is story of how saying No changed our route of journey.

Going against the conventional Indian IT industry, which mostly flourished on the IT Services, we said No to software customization projects. This allowed us to gear our focus towards building a world class ERP application. Thinking deeper, I realize that it was a not a decision from business perspective, but also from design perspective. A design of a product with minimalist approach. An attitude to question one thing over and over again.

“Do I really need this feature?”

I could absorb that decision even better when I got my first MacBook. The thought which struck me after having first glance at my MacBook was, where is rest of the keys? They said No to backspace, and the number keys in calculator like layout, a DVD writer and host of other feature.

One shear commonality I found between my company and Apple product was an attitude to be the minimalist. 

Indeed going against a conventions is like taking a bitter pill, which has its own challenges. Following are the few points in my opinion which allowed us to survive through this path.

  1. Focus on the Product:

    Our first step in this direction was to abandon all the ongoing customization projects, and direct complete focus on building standard product. It took about 3 years for us to make a releasable product. And more to win active users for a product. Its throughout a patience game!

  2. Stay Leaner:

    Not just in terms of team size, so that it offer you longer runway to survive on the unknown path. But also in terms of product design, so that its easy to maintain and scale, with minimum operations cost.

  3. Choose What to Add:

    We are always flooded with feature suggestions by customers, more than our plate can accommodate. For further filtering, we make our suggestions list public, and let other users +1 features they also wish to see in the product. Most supported feature are auto-validated to be generic, and are picked for the development.

So when you say No, it doesn’t mean No to business or revenue. It means No to complexity. And big Yes to solving problems by building scalable solutions. Its just like “free” in the free software movement stands for freedom.


Umair Sayyed

Umair is the Chief Customer Officer at ERPNext. He has done more than 50 ERP implementations remotely and replies to most incoming inquiries.

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