I’m not sure what changed but I used to be happy publishing open source code on github and thinking I’d done the world a mighty favour. But slowly I started to become uneasy. How much good have I really done if I publish something that only a couple of people find, let alone benefit from? I also started to find it harder to find any time to spend on software to give away for free in between the day job and my growing family. I think that might be why I now find myself pursuing for-profit side projects. It’s not everything but revenue is some measure of the value I am creating for others. Revenue is also a way of spending more time creating that value; every pound I earn from my creations is a pound I don’t have to earn from the day job, and because I’m a contractor I have the luxury of being able to adjust my work levels. If I achieve any success with my own projects that would allow me to invest more of my time in them and generate yet more value without sacrificing family life.
Ever since I entered the world of work I’ve wanted to create things that help people in some way. I think one of the reasons I still love software development is the joy of watching someone realise I’ve made one small piece of their life or job better, easier or faster in some meaningful way. Creating my own products that gain wide adoption is the ultimate expression of that for me.
I’ve already had some fantastic unexpected benefits of starting on this journey. It’s reminded me to be humble, and given me even greater respect for anyone who has created a business. It’s pushed me to read and listen to many things I wouldn’t have thought of before, and reading with a goal in mind seems to be a much deeper learning experience. It’s enabled me to have fascinating conversations with people I otherwise wouldn’t have had a reason to talk to, such as the lovely generous people at grow@greenpark.
I’ve discovered huge holes in my skills that I was oblivious to in my cosy enterprise-developer role, such as marketing, and I am now super-motivated to learn more.
Maybe I can build something that you would find useful? What’s the biggest hole in your digital life?
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