Life's Work

I am not sure whether its the unusual December heat or just the stress of releasing (and fixing) daily, but I have been quite down and ou

 · 3 min read

I am not sure whether its the unusual December heat or just the stress of releasing (and fixing) daily, but I have been quite down and out for the last two days. Today while I was going through some old mails, I came across this screenshot dated September 2005.

Yes you got that right, 2005. Blink and its 2012 - I have been working on this project for atleast 7 years. Wow. When I started, I never thought it would take so long.

It reminded me of the joining letter about work and life's work, given to Apple recruits and I think this pretty much sums up my life's work for the last decade.

So by that measure, is this something I should be proud of?

Yesterday I also went through Jessica Livingstone's talk at Startup School on why startups fail. When she listed all the "monsters" that startups commonly encounter that causes them to fail. And guess what, I have encountered them all.

  1. Rejection (check)
  2. Co-founder dispute (check)
  3. Variety of Problems (check)
  4. Getting Investment (check)
  5. Distractions (check)
  6. Sales calls with large companies (check)
  7. Doing something people do not want (check)
  8. Wrong Hiring (check)
  9. Roller coaster (check)

Right now, I am not sure which one was the biggest monster. Co-founder dispute was emotionally draining. Not finding the right market, crushing. Hiring the wrong people, deadly. 

Somehow, maybe through resilience or the lack of a better option I am still on it. Bruised and battered but still standing. Seven years is a long time and when I started off, I honestly thought it was going to be much easier. And the road ahead does not seem to be too easy either.

On the plus side, if this is my life's work, I think it is also something I can be proud of.

I am reasonably happy with where the product is today. ERPNext is now being used by more than 100 small businesses world wide and is fast attracting both a user and developer community around it. ERPs are usually built by large teams and cost a lot of money. We built something with a small team and can still afford to price it cheap. Money has not been good, but if we get reasonable renewals, we should be profitable next year.

When I look around me, I see my friends who are working for large companies or in their family businesses and they seem to be doing great with all the momentum in life. But I don't know how many can show something they have built for the last seven years that represents their life's work.

When we are young, each year means so much because it represents a significant percent of our life. Things happen quickly and time goes slowly. When you cross 30, years seem to suddenly fly by. Blink and a year is over. Did this happen three months ago or a year ago? Is that all we achieved in the past year?

As we move into a post-industrial and post-materialist era, where numbers don't matter and stuff is evil, is there a more humane way to measure your work? How do you reconcile this with the rest of the material world? Right now, I am confused and going through a "phase". Maybe I am judging too much and experiencing too little and need to relax a bit. Or maybe its just Friday evening.

Have you worked on one project for seven years? Would love to know how it feels.


Thanks to Anand and Umair for reviewing.

Rushabh Mehta

Rushabh is a software developer and founder of ERPNext. He usually writes about the startup experience, open source and the technologies he is working on.

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Navin 10 years ago

You are a builder. You have built a respectable place out of 'nothing'. You are doing really good

Hisham Farid 10 years ago

You have done a great project that competes with the major ERP systems worldwide, I am really pro

Sonal 10 years ago

same....its work you can be proud of given its helping so many people in substantial ways. 

Sukh 10 years ago

Nothing is built overnight. Nothing great anyway. There are good days, bad days and really bad da