Haroon Ahmed

Pledging thy soul to enterprises

24 Mar 2017

Working in a startup requires sacrifices. Like turning down customers that will harm your business. It can be the best thing you ever did, trust me.

When you are small and bootstrapped like us, making a profit is extremely important. We tend to take on any kind of customer. We went to a few enterprises (banks) and tried to sell our system. They come back to us and said, can you just do features x, y and maybe z too. Then we may commit.

We get all excited, build that feature come back and try selling again. Do they commit? No, it’s never that simple. They always seem to either ask for one more feature or they are not quite ready to commit.

As a small startup it can be alluring if we get a few big customers, everything will be fine. So we convince ourselves, next time will be different, we have so many more features now than the time we met the last potential client. Thus we go out to another enterprise (a little more desperate).

Even though there is a need for the software, enterprises always demand for yet another thing and the price they will pay, goes down too. Eventually we are so desperate, we promise everything, just hoping they will take on our system and we get our break.

The biggest lesson I learnt about business is enterprises are bullies. They will demand what they want and they play the game on their terms only.

I have had enough of chasing down enterprises, finito, tapping out, done. I am going to write software targeting small-medium businesses. This way there can be one version of the same software for everyone. Sure we will need a lot more customers for us to grow and be profitable, but we will have less customers that act like they own us.