This is a book on how to start a business. If you want to operate it simultaneously with the main work. And how to improve your existing business, or rather, your views on it. Rework will make a huge difference in your life.
About what is the optimal size of the company, why should it grow, what and how to actually plan and whether to learn from mistakes?
Jason Fried is one of the founders of 37signals, a web development company that offers simple yet powerful collaboration tools.
David Hansson is Jason’s partner and creator of the popular Ruby on Rails programming platform, which is used not only by 37signals, but also Twitter, Hulu, and thousands of other web services.
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The Previous Tandem Getting Real Book Was Also a Bestseller.
You need less than you think in order to create your own company; launch as soon as the core of your business is ready
Starting your own business is now easier than ever. If you decide to start small, you need much less time and resources than you imagine.
First, to probe the soil: do not quit your regular job in order to work 100 hours a week for your job.
Appreciate your enthusiasm by devoting several hours a week to work with your idea. You do not need to take an unbearable loan – just use all the tools and equipment that are at your disposal or
which you can easily purchase without getting into debt. The only thing you can use is external financing, but only as a last resort, because finding it will take you a lot of time and effort.
In Most Cases, All You Need is a Laptop and an Idea to Get Started; Everything Else is Not Directly Related to Your Success in Any Way.
When starting up your business, focus on building the core of your business. Without it, your business cannot function. For example, sausages are the core of the hot dog business. But the core should also be something that will not change over time and will have demand. For example, the core of the Amazon business is not only about books, but it is also fast delivery, reasonable prices, and a large selection. Publishing quirks come and go, and for these things, people will always be willing to pay.
Once your kernel is ready, immediately launch the product. Do not wait until you “polish” it.
You can clarify the details later. When 37signals released their Basecamp product, they couldn’t even bill customers. But they had 4 weeks to eliminate the flaw. Just launch the product and everything will go as it should.
You need less than you think to create your own company – launch it as soon as the core of your business is ready.
Focus Your Business on What Excites You
If you already understand what your business is unique and what you want to focus on – make a stand for yourself and visitors, which will contain information about it. Simply, if you are going to do something, do it so that you can be proud of it.
Some people start their business for the sole purpose of making money. In fact, this is absurd, because a successful business cannot be built only on the desire to earn more and more. The affair must be based on passion.
Designing a stand with information about your uniqueness and your principles is a great way to attract customers.
Consider Vinnie’s Sub Shop in Chicago: they stopped selling sandwiches for lunch because the bread wasn’t as fresh as it was in the morning. They donated extra income during the day to preserve their reputation and not betray their principles. And their customers appreciate this dedication to freshness.
In addition, this is a great way to be competitive with rivals. If you manage a small coffee shop for people who love comfort and a certain personality, you will become something like anti-Starbucks. Such positioning will inevitably attract the attention of people and bring you, customers.
Do not allow yourself to follow the strategy of your competitors. If you set out to make a copy of the iPhone 5, you are doomed to always be one step behind your competitor. Focus on what you do, not what others do.
Focus on What Worries You in Your Business.
Make your product unique so that you can share your knowledge with others
If your company is successful, others will try to copy your product. Your only protection is to make your product unique, based on what it is unique.
For example, Zappos CEO Tony Shay is so obsessed with the quality of customer service that he decided to make it a priority in his business. While competing shoe stores can sell the same sneakers as Zappos, they cannot imitate this selfless devotion to good customer service.
A great way to find your uniqueness is to create a product or service that you would use with pleasure. For example, when running coach Bill Bowerman wanted to create lightweight running shoes for his team, he poured rubber into his family’s waffle iron and invented the famous Nike waffle soles.
Usually, people expect something special from the product they purchase and is often disappointed with the facts. On the contrary, your product should be so simple and easy to use that people will like it even more than they expected, and they will tell their friends about it. Your product should be like a drug: so that after trying it once, people want to come to you again and again.
Once you have created a unique product that can be sold again and again – you can launch it without fear that competitors will copy it. You, like a famous chef distributing your recipes for free in cooking shows or publishing books, can openly share your ideas, experiences, and tools with others. Better yet, create walkthroughs and video courses! Most companies – especially large ones – are so secretive that you can gain a real competitive advantage by actively teaching people things you know.
Make Your Product Unique in Order to Be Able to Share Your Knowledge With Others.
Enjoy the fact that you own a small company, but do not forget that you do business
Many startups are focused on expanding the boundaries of the market and the target audience, but more are not always better.
Consider elite schools such as Harvard and Cambridge. Do you think they aim to spread their campuses around the world and educate hundreds of thousands of people every year?
They are valuable for their “smallness.”
For example, being a small company and free from media harassment allows you to experiment with the product without fear of publicity. For example, the famous Broadway musicals were first staged in small towns, far from New York. You can also take advantage of your unpopularity to experiment with different ideas and tools.
A small company can also allow itself to keep the entire team under control, receive information on feedback, as they say, “firsthand” and quickly respond to market requirements and customer needs. In a large company with a complex hierarchy, the response to feedback is much slower. And when everyone is responsible for customer satisfaction, you can respond to any problems quickly, which is necessary for effective service.
It does not mean that you must forget that you are running a business. Many startups are divorced from reality and live in dreams, in which they joyfully spend investor money without worrying about profitability. The creators of such companies are simply trying to make a business out of their hobby, without thinking about whether it is capable of generating income. If you want to build a successful business, you must have a clear plan to bring your idea to a profitable product.
Enjoy the fact that you own a small company, but do not forget that you do business.
Less is Better – Learn to Say No to Keep Your Product Simple
When chef Gordon Ramsay created the menu for his Kitchen Nightmares television show, he always started the process this way: he cut the original menu by about two-thirds.
Do the same with your product – minimize the number of functions to keep your product simple. If you want to do something great, you must rule out the good in order to find the best. Love these restrictions.
As Ernest Hemingway, who received the Nobel Prize for narrative mastery, wrote: “You can make a great product or service with very few features.”
If your competitors offer a product with many features, do not try to replay them by offering an even more functional product. Instead, create a product that is easy and convenient to use. Add significance to it by rejecting mass sales. Think about it: the great art galleries do not hold painting exhibitions of all painters, choosing the best. You must also discard the excess and make sure that your product is the best.
Of course, maintaining the uniqueness of a product is not easy when you receive more and more orders. With the growing needs of customers, there is a need to expand production and, possibly, a team.
You don’t need to rush right away to fix your product at the request of customers – adding new features to your product, you will quickly make it unrecognizable, and this can scare off other potential customers.
Say no to even the best ideas you have ever heard. If the proposal is really important to customers, it will sound often enough, and then you can no longer ignore it.
Less is Better – Learn to say no to keep your product simple.
Do Not Imitate the Marketing Strategy and Communication Methods of Large Corporations – Be Honest, Accessible and Active
There is nothing wrong with giving people genuine information about the size of your company. You should be proud of your “small size”, which allows you to frankly communicate with your customers without creating the pathos of press releases typical of business corporations.
For example, you can easily say that you are honest with your customers, rather than use the cumbersome phrase of a rival magnate, “Transparency is at the forefront of our company.”
You can easily save on expensive advertising and active marketing using free promotion tools: everyone in the company should be responsible for marketing. Use the newsletter, information on blogs and pages on social networks, phone calls. Share information with your customers and ask for feedback. It will not cost you a dime and will attract the attention of potential customers.
Show the backstage of your company to customers. There is nothing wrong with letting customers know a little more about your employees than they would know with a standard business plan.
When you are trying to talk about your company, choose not broad media, but thematic magazines, groups in social networks, blogs, etc. This will provide the most clear and comprehensive information, instead of general articles, and will attract much more potential customers than the public media.
Among other things, to be honest, means, to be honest in everything: both in virtues and in flaws or mistakes.
People do not like companies that try to hide their failures. If there is bad news, do not use “sweet” phrases, such as: “We apologize for the inconvenience.” Instead, think about what you would like to hear if you were a client of your company.
Do not imitate the marketing strategy and communication methods of large corporations – be honest, accessible and active.
Create an Environment in Your Company Where People Are Honest With Each Other
If you treat your employees like children, be prepared to do half the work for them. In this situation, your team will very quickly turn from a group of thinking creative people into standard performers, which will inevitably lead to your becoming the brain, and the ideological center, etc. You need independent employees who reveal their potential precisely when they are trusted and offered to solve certain problems of the company on their own.
One of the defining characteristics of honesty in a company is directness in communication. Avoid abstract images and impersonal comparisons. Speak clearly and bluntly, say exactly what you think. And do not try to solve problems by discussing them at meetings, instead take a specific problem and solve it locally.
Criticism must be just as honest. If your team is too large and many employees are not even familiar, you will understand that an honest and free dialogue does not work. You need frank, honest communication within your team. And criticism should be applied whenever there are flaws.
Finally, there are certain words that you should avoid when communicating within a team. Consider a situation where you are faced with a seemingly impossible task, and someone understates the significance of the situation: “This is vital for us, you must succeed.” And you have no arguments left, are you? Many words that are not relevant to the matter can easily kill the last hope.
Also, stop using the words “as soon as possible” when you ask someone for something. A person is stressed and just continues to make other, no less urgent requests.
Create an environment in your company in which people are honest with each other.
Be Flexible and Fast – Strict Implementation of the Plan is Not for You
A startup has an advantage over a business corporation in that it can quickly respond to external changes and make decisions on changing strategies. Say “let’s make a decision” instead of “let’s think.” Don’t look for the perfect solution: find the good and move on.
Do not over-analyze and plan. In any case, the preparation of the plan is based only on conjectures and hypotheses. If you start by assuming that your plans are correct, and then blindly believe in them, you lose the ability to improvise, which is very dangerous.
Instead, give events the opportunity to take their course. Do not make decisions in advance, do it on the spot. Think about the things that concern you now, and not those that will worry you in a year. Small decisions designed to quickly change the situation immediately have much less complex consequences if they are not true.
Similarly, do not make large-scale assessments such as “this annual project will cost us about $ 1 million.” If you want accuracy, divide your grades into small ones, with a range of a week or several weeks. Thus, you will reduce the scale of the consequences.
Finally, when you are trying to make a decision, don’t be afraid that something might go wrong. Any solution has flaws, but you can always deal with them when they appear (although most may not appear).
Be flexible and fast – strict implementation of the plan is not for you.
Productivity is Not Long Hours of Work, but Hours of Focused and Active Work
Many people equate productivity and success with long-term work, when in fact the opposite is true. The best employees often have a busy life outside of work, so they work hard to be free after 5 pm.
Workaholics who stay up late can even harm their company, feeling guilty and losing motivation.
The way to increase productivity at work begins with reducing breaks that reduce concentration. Announce to your team that there is a specific time during the day or week when breaks are prohibited.
The worst kind of breaks is, of course, meetings and gatherings. An hourly meeting of 10 people is equivalent to the loss of 10 hours of work. In some rare cases, this may be justified, but often meetings do not bring any benefit to the real thing. In short, they are made for conversation, not a business.
Another enemy of productivity is perfectionism. Immersion in complex problems in order to develop ideal solutions for them can take weeks of serious effort, when in fact it is quick enough to correct the situation and eliminate the error. To truly be productive, make decisions that maximize productivity at the lowest cost. Good in business is often better than perfect.
One way to overcome perfectionism is to divide large projects and tasks into small ones. This not only greatly simplifies the work with complex projects, but also gives additional motivation to achieve each small goal. Productivity is not long hours of work, but hours of focused and active work.
Hire People Only When Absolutely Necessary, and Forget About the Resume – Trust Your Instincts
Some companies are keen on hiring people. Having met a good professional, they decide to hire him, even if it is quite possible to do without him. That’s where the trouble begins. The decision to hire an employee must be determined by the urgent need to solve important company problems that you or existing employees cannot solve.
Maintaining motivation in the team and jointly searching for solutions to problems is much more beneficial for both the team and the company as a whole rather than hiring useless employees, even if they are super-professionals. In addition, having a small company, you can very well turn to one-time services of the right specialists. But if you are ready hire employees from all over the world, you can always find excellent professionals, often better than your current employees.
Almost everyone in our time can work through the Internet, so the geographic location of your employees, basically, does not matter.
When, in the end, you decide to hire someone, drop the standard recruitment scheme with a study of resumes and information about work experience. Instead, trust your instincts and concentrate on what they actually learned to do, thanks to their past activities.
Finally, test drives your employees. No amount of interviews will show you how a person will actually work, so give him a task that will allow you to evaluate the professional qualities of the candidate. BMW, for example, even went so far as to build fake car assembly lines where recruiters could watch promising employees in action. To facilitate the evaluation of testing, always offer people the tasks that you once did yourself. It will also help to manage them in the future.
Hire people only in case of emergency, and forget about the resume – trust your instincts.
Wrapping It Up
Starting and running a business is much easier today than ever before.
To build a successful business, create a unique product and learn how to use your “smallness”.
A comfortable and productive work environment is based on trust, independence, and concentration.
How Can You Start Your Own Business Immediately?
- You need less than you think to create your own company – launch it as soon as the core of your business is ready.
- Focus on what excites you.
- Make your product unique in order to be able to share your knowledge and experience with others.
How can you benefit from being the founder of a small company?
- Enjoy the fact that you own a small company, but do not forget that you do business.
- Less is Better – Learn to say no to keep your product simple.
- Do not imitate the marketing strategy and communication methods of large corporations – be honest, accessible and active.
- Create an environment in your company in which people are honest with each other.
- Be flexible and fast – strict implementation of the plan is not for you.
- Productivity is not long hours of work, but hours of focused and active work.
- Hire people only in case of emergency, and forget about the resume – trust your instincts.
Why You Should Read “Remote”?
- To finally create your own company;
- To redefine the idea of work in the 21st century;
- To create the right conditions for productivity in the company.
This book is available as: