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When most people think of starting a business, they get the traditional advice: set up a business plan, analyze the market, study competitors, look for investments. In Rework, Jason Fried, founder of Basecamp (curiosity: Basecamp is also the creator of Ruby on Rails, the programming framework we use to develop 12 ') challenges conventional wisdom. Rework brings a simple, practical, and fast approach for you to succeed in business. The truth is that currently, you need far less than you imagine to accomplish your entrepreneurial dream. All the traditional advice has become obsolete, and if you do not start a business for any of the above reasons, this is just an excuse. The only thing you really need to do is stop talking and stick your hands in the dough. Want to start a business? In technology? If the answer is yes, this book is fantastic, and you can not miss it. Shall we go?
Setting up a business is challenging, and you already know that. The secret is to start small and be fast. That will allow you to challenge conventional wisdom, after all, most people will tell you that starting something new is crazy and that it's best that things stay as they are. People in the real world are always full of pessimism and often are not ready for a change. Do not let the fact the world disagrees with you stop you from trying. You will also hear that you must learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of other people. Do not believe it. A Harvard University research has proven that success attracts success. For entrepreneurs who had failed before, in their second venture, they had the same failure rate as first-time entrepreneurs. So it is important not to be afraid and invest in something that you believe. You also do not need to follow the advice of making a business plan. Planning and guessing tend to have the same practical result. You'll need to get your hands dirty if you want to get started right.
If you start small, you will need less time and resources than you think. The first step is to define how much you really want to invest working on your idea, and the answer is to never invest too much. Neither of your time nor your resources. A very common mistake is to drown in credit card debt and put endless weeks of effort into a new business. Also, pursuing outside investments can also be a problem as you will dilute your stake in the company and spend a lot of time chasing investors. You need to take small, steady steps. Do not become a workaholic, when you work too hard, it becomes less effective. The workaholic is not a hero, and they never save the day. The real hero is the guy who finds the fastest and easiest way to get things done and comes home early. But you also can not get carried away by the idea that by working hard you do not have time to try something new. When you really want to do something, you can create time regardless of your commitments.
Most of the time to start a business, all you need is a computer, and an idea and all your efforts should be channeled to the core idea, why your business will work. The central idea of Amazon is not just the books themselves but also the fast shipping, affordable prices and a great selection, things that people will always want to pay for. If you have a powerful central idea, let's get started, it's time to start. When Jason's company launched its first product, they did not even have software to charge customers. Feeling the initial success of the product, they had 30 days to air a billing system.
To succeed, you need to have the dedication your business needs. And since it's going to need you a lot, you need to do something you really like and believe. The management of a company should be based on commitment and passion, and this attracts happy followers and customers. And if you've set up a business and want to attract people with similar goals, one of Jason's best tips is to position yourself as an enemy of an established competitor. If people are unhappy with a company for some reason, state yourself as the antithesis of that company and these people will want to do business with you. Being the enemy alternative creates a strong positioning and relies on what people already know and do not like. However, it is important to position yourself as an alternative to the competition, but never let them dictate what your business needs to do. Focus on what you are doing, and on what is working. Ignore everything else. To do a good job, you need to feel that you are making a difference. Don't wait for someone to make the change you expect. Do it yourself. And if you've decided to do something, do something that really matters.
When you start a business, it often suffers pressure to grow it quickly. But for every business, there is an ideal size, no matter if it is 5, 50 or 500 employees. Do something that you feel good about and grow slowly. Also, if you grow fast and need to reduce size later, your team's morale and confidence in the business are shaken. Large companies would like to be agile like small ones, and there is nothing wrong with being a small business. If your business is profitable and sustainable, you should already be proud.
If you succeed, people will try to copy you. So you have to create something unique, impossible to imitate, based on what only you know. Jason Fried cites the Zappos example. The company sells shoes, and there are thousands of other companies that do the same. But its culture is so client-centric that it makes it impossible to copy the Zappos way of being, and consumers know that. The best way to do this is to create something that you would like to use that solves a problem that you have. When you do something you need, you know that quality and speed are correct. You do not need to ask others if this is really good. Many companies deliver bad, standardized products that do not surprise customers. To succeed, you need to create a product that is better than advertised. It needs to be simple, easy to use and addictive. Another interesting point is that if your product is unique, you need not be afraid to share your knowledge and learning on the journey. While large companies tend to cherish keeping everything a secret, sharing their experience can be a differential that directly influences customer choice.
All companies are governed by the same idea. Revenue arrives, expenses go out and to continue running you need to have money in the tin, that is, profits. That is why you need to plan your profits from day one. Never leave this decision for later. Many startups start out with no idea how to make money and end up dying on the beach. Another crucial point where a business is different from a startup is not building a business just to sell it and make money fast. You need commitment rather than an exit strategy to make a real business. If you have something good, keep running. Why sell it?
When you have problems with your product, consider cutting features. If you want to do something great, you need to let go of everything that is not great. If your competition offers more features, do not try to copy them, offer fewer features, and focus on having a simpler, easier-to-use product. Keeping your product or service simple is not easy, and when you have thousands of customers, new ideas of features will appear at all times. They should never be accepted right away. It is always necessary to understand whether they really contribute to the creation of a better product without losing its simplicity. Immediately say no to ideas that look good. If the functionality is critical, implementation requests will come so often from your clients that eventually you will have to create it.
To progress, you must be quick and decisive. You need to replace the "let's think about it" with "let's do it". It is important to force yourself to constantly make decisions and never wait for the perfect solution. Long projects and deferred decisions discourage your team and cause discomfort to customers. The longer it takes to create something, the less likely it actually gets built. Make small steady progress. In your company, you are a healer, and you have to choose what goes in and what stays out. The most important, though not instinctive, is what is left out. That is why it is necessary to focus on the essentials. Never be afraid to cut. You can always add things in the future if necessary.
Do not be a company in search of the next great fashion. Your business should be built around things that never change, and you should invest in them. When you focus on the definitive, on things that do not change, you never go out of style. So you should never stick to your tools, technologies, tricks, offices full of luxurious furniture. Focus on what matters to attract customers and make a profit. You're not a big company. Do marketing your way. You must be authentic in your marketing and never emulate the big companies. Small businesses that try to look great at all costs look like jokes and are not taken seriously. It's okay to look small, so you should talk to your customers as you talk to your friends. Communicate frankly, directly and avoid the jargon that the market uses. Besides, traditional advertising is a costly way to connect with customers. Build an audience by sharing content that is useful and relevant to your customers. Create a community of people who genuinely care about you and your business will do well.
To succeed, you need employees who are capable of managing themselves. This type of professional only succeeds in work environments where there is trust, responsibility, and autonomy. Always evaluate whether your business is direct in communication. You can not be wordy or irrelevant but communicate clearly every time. Do not foster a culture of over-crowded meetings where people only bring trouble. Create an environment where people bring real solutions to problems, and the criticisms and feedbacks are totally transparent. You need frank and honest communication within your team, so bad ideas are criticized when they should be. Also, there are certain words that should be avoided in teamwork. Things like, "I can’t talk right now," "I need this for tomorrow," or "That's easy!" Words like 'can’t', 'need' and 'easy' quickly destroy any hope of fruitful discussion. Also, never ask for something "as soon as possible".
Constant disruption and a high volume of meetings are highly detrimental to the success of a business. They slow you down and keep you from growing. So you have to fight them all the time. Create your work moments where you can not be interrupted. A meeting is not synonymous with collaboration. When 5 people meet for 1 hour, you waste 5 hours of productivity. If you are going to have meetings, set your rules, duration, and agenda beforehand. Always invite the smallest number of people, start with the specific problem and focus on it. Always end meetings with a solution and a decision.
When you hire someone, this should only be to solve a timely problem that is causing your company a huge inconvenience. Keeping your team lean for as long as possible will force you to take time-saving practices and increase their efficiency. On the other hand, hiring unnecessary people, no matter how competent they are, will only lead to frustration and the creation of artificial labor to keep them occupied. When it comes time to bring new talent to the team, you can and should get a talent, but a good tip from Jason Fried is to open up to the possibility of working remotely. If you are willing to hire employees from anywhere in the world, you will always be able to find more capable people than those in your city. Almost everyone can work online these days, so the location of your employees no longer matters as much as before. Another important point is when to hire, ignore traditional wisdom. Curriculums, analysis of academic grades and experience are often overestimated. Trust your instincts and focus on what the candidate is capable of learning and on their previous achievements.
We all have ideas, and they will always come, but their inspiration is a finite energy. If you're inspired on a Friday, immerse yourself in your productivity and make it happen. You get a lot more in a short time when you're inspired, so if inspiration comes in, use it and put it into action.
Starting and running a business is much easier today than it was in the past. To build a successful business, you must inject your own uniqueness into your product and embrace the benefits of being small. Build an excellent work environment, emphasizing trust, independence and focus.
12min tip: Want to know more about startups? Check out our microbook A Lean Startup!
David Heinemeier Hansson is a Danish programmer, entrepreneur, and racing driver. Best known as the creator of the Ruby on Rails web devel... (Read more)
Jason Fried is an American entrepreneur, one of the co-founders of 37signals – a Chicago-based remote software company renamed as Basecamp in 2014, after its celebrated flagship product. Together with David Heinemeier Hansson, he has written four books, all of them published under the 37signals name: “Getting R... (Read more)
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