If you haven't done it yet, read the first part of this blog post where I described how my Sylius journey has started.
This time I will concern more on what happened after I decided to found BitBag on top of Sylius, especially how OpenSource made me become more valuable both as a tech and business person providing you some information you might find useful.
Recently I read a book called "Top of Mind: Use Content to Unleash Your Influence and Engage Those Who Matter To You", written by John Hall, who is the co-founder of a content marketing agency named Influence & Co. In a shortcut, this book tells you how to build your network by providing something valuable to your audience and get "Top of mind" status once your customer needs you. You can achieve it in a scalable way by providing a valuable content, helping people, or... by doing Open Source. Sometimes this channel is way much more powerful.
Most of the time, either developers or business personalities do not realize how powerful Open Source is. Below I will describe what advantages I got from sharing my work with the community.
When I was a freelancer, I thought that being on time with documentation and all tech-news is enough to be a good developer. It's not true. After I started publishing pieces of my code, immediately I received a valuable feedback and tips which prevented me from making mistakes in my career. There were many things I thought I was doing right which actually wasn't and I didn't even know about it just because I had nobody to take a look at it before. I am sure that without people who shared their experience with me through GitHub or Slack channels, I would be stuck in learning practices I know now for years. Looking on it now, for me, Open Source is like a daddy telling me that maybe a hammer is not the right thing I should brush my teeth with, even if I think different.
Obviously, learning from other's mistakes saves your time in long-term. The more you will learn, the faster and more efficient you will solve your problems in the future. As a developer, you should work smart, not long. Except for the time you save on learning, you can also get some extra hours while getting someone else making your work done for you. Everyone knows the reinventing wheel issue. It's still a common problem that many companies are working with their own frameworks and tools which already been developed for free for the whole community. Trust me, you would be way much better contributing and improving a good solution rather than creating one on your own. There are hundreds of thousands of problems saved by another people around the world and it's highly probable that when you solve one, you will get at least two solved for you in the future. Doesn't it sound as a better way of work?
Either if you are a CTO/CEO of a big software house or an after-hour freelancer, you know that finding new clients might be tricky. Remember, there's always someone who can reproduce your services or even make something cheaper. Your potential customers also don't care about what you can do for them. They care about their needs. The one thing no one else can reproduce is your reputation. Make your customers think about you once they have a problem. So how to get the top of mind status in this case? It's simple - help someone for free. Once you create a tool that does not exist in the technology you are working with or solve somebody's problem, you will be rewarded. You know, when you write or talk about your services, you can say everything - you're becoming more professional once you show your work to the world. Nothing proves your tech skills more than GitHub activity or stars in your repositories.
Recently while being at the WroOpen conference I talked to Krzysztof Socha, the sales manager at Divante, one of the biggest eCommerce software development companies in Poland. Some time ago they've created a great tool for building loyalty programs called Open Loyalty. Before they decided to Open Source it, they had faced a problem with selling it to the customers. After publishing it on their GitHub account, more and more people started to enjoy working with it and pushing their business to give it a try. As a result, Divante itself became an expert in the tool they've created.
This sounds like a win-win situation - developers love free and useful tools and on the other hand growing popularity means more successful sales leads for customers who want something extra.
The same thing happened to Sylius. When Paweł Jędrzejewski, Sylius founder, was a teenager, he developed "some eCommerce" for his family business. He was tired with the obligation of maintaining the project, so he decided to opensource it. Poof, now Sylius is a business with a great potential and gives me the opportunity to write this blog post. Thank you, Paweł for "being lazy"!
And what about brands you know? Symfony, Zend, Wordpress, etc. - there's a business behind those brands. All of them became popular because of being free and great tools for specific problems.
But hey, you don't have to create your own product. The same rules apply to smaller packages or even resolving issues in one of the platforms you like working with.
The more people you help, the more people you know. The more people you know, the wider your network becomes. The wider your network becomes, the more leads you get. Simple, right? Just contribute and build your own brand at once.
It's because of the shared vision of creating something that developers need. It wouldn't be like that without almost 500 contributors who made it awesome. Look, some people shared some vision about something that was missing on the market and with the support of one small development team have created something awesome.
As you can see, the more people are involved in the project, the better it becomes. Continous feedback, testing, new use-cases, it all makes the solution cover new combinations of business needs which as a result provides one of the greatest solutions for modern eCommerce projects in the world.
Probably everyone has his own top 1 tool he wishes to work differently. With Sylius you are free to implement it as a plugin or platform feature. New ideas are always welcomed on Slack or GitHub.
Sylius has a growing popularity. By the time I write this blog, it has about 3500 stars on GitHub which makes it top 6 eCommerce solution on GitHub. If you decide to make something awesome for it now, it may be valuable for you in the incoming months, so you can treat it like an investment of your time. Now it's the chance to become a future expert. Sharing your vision, improving both tech and communications skills as well as allows you to become better in what you are doing.
Nowadays scaling your knowledge and contact network in our IT industry can be achieved in many ways. One of them is the Open Source. Joining Sylius project might be for you a great opportunity to gain all those benefits either if you are a developer or a business person. In the incoming weeks, I will create an lead the Friends Of Sylius community. If you want to get involved, feel invited. For now, you can join the Sylius project after reading the contribution guide, joining their Slack channel, contributing to our plugins developmentor even creating your own one.