If you are a startup, you have read 37Signal’s opinions on business, productivity and building software. Here are some inspirational quotes from their latest book Rework. I took these insights from Dharmesh Shah’s onStartups blog. And put them together along with the index of essays in a downloadable PDF. Print this and stick it in a visible place!
I enjoyed reading Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson’s earlier book – Getting Real too. Of course, what worked for 37Signals (for Basecamp, Campfire, Ta-da list and their other products) may or may not work in your situation. Their advise is still valuable and worth pondering over for any startup / productivity aspirant.
Download the PDF
- Great businesses have a point of view, not just a product or service.
- Writing a plan makes you feel in control of things you don’t actually control.
- Don’t sit around and wait for someone else to make the change you want to see.
- Stuff that was impossible just a few years ago is simple today.
- Failure is not a prerequisite for success.
- Don’t make assumptions about how big you should be ahead of time.
- You have the most information when you’re doing something, not before you’ve done it.
- When you build what you need, you can assess quality directly instead of by proxy.
- Solving your own problem lets you fall in love with what you’re making.
- What you do matters, not what you think or say or plan.
- When you want something bad enough, you make the time.
- The perfect time to start something never arrives.
- Start a business, not a startup.
- You need a commitment strategy, not an exit strategy.
- Huge organizations talk instead of act, and meet instead of do.
- Build half a product, not a half-assed product.
- Getting to greatness starts by cutting out stuff that’s merely good.
- The real world isn’t a place, it’s an excuse. It’s a justification for not trying.
- The big picture is all you should be worrying about in the beginning. Ignore the details.
- It’s the stuff you leave out that matters.
- Decide. You’re as likely to make a great call today as you are tomorrow.
- The longer it takes to develop, the less likely it is to launch.
- Focus on substance, not fashion. Focus on what won’t change.
- When good enough gets the job done, go for it.
- When you make tiny decisions, you can’t make big mistakes.
- Pour yourself into your product.
- You rarely regret saying no but you often regret saying yes.
- Instead of out-spending your competitors, out-teach them.
- Let customers look behind the curtain.
- Better your customers grow out of your product, than never grow into them.
- You can’t paint over a bad experience with good marketing.
- All companies have customers. Fortunate companies have audiences too.
- Don’t hire for pleasure; hire to kill pain.
- Leave the poetry in what you make, there is beauty in imperfection.
- Marketing is not a department, it’s the sum total of everything you do.
- Don’t make up problems you don’t have yet.
- A business without a path to profit is a hobby.
You can also download the excerpts from here.
Naval Ravikant writes an insightful post on Venture Hacks on picking up a co-founder for your startup.
The best combination: One person who can build the product, and another that can sell. With a history of working together and common motives.
Now that may sound like common sense, but picking a co-founder is not as easy as it seems. Making wrong choices is fatal. Naval’s observations are right on spot.
Here are some of my favorites:
- If one founder wants to build a cool product, another one wants to make money, and yet another wants to be famous, it won’t work.
- Pay close attention — true motivations are revealed, not declared.
- If it doesn’t feel right, keep looking. If you’re compromising, keep looking.
- Avoid overly rational short-term thinkers.
- Business founders who don’t code use bad proxies for picking technical co-founders (“10 years with Java!”). Technical founders who don’t sell also use bad proxies (“Harvard MBA!”).
- If you’re going to fall out with your co-founder, do it early.
Anyone interested in starting on their own, must read this.
Are you feeling the heat of times? There aren’t sufficient interesting & rewarding web projects out there. Everyone either wants to copy some social network / iPhone app or just wants to get it done at weekly grocery cost.
It’s not easy to find projects, so you may tend to pick up anything that comes your way. But beware!
Greg Hoy (on A List Apart) talks about five warning signs you should watch for. He recommends avoiding such customers. They will create problems later. And with my 11 years in web design / development business, I couldn’t agree more. I’ll even share couple of my own warning signs! Plus I have a list of positive signs from customers at the end.
- The never-ending contract revisionist: clients who can’t settle on the terms, keep asking for material / mocks upfront before taking decision
- The giant project team: more than 3 people on client’s team is harmful. My experience says more than 2 is deadly as well.
- Mr. or Mrs. Vague: All of us have them. Ask them plenty of questions.
- The prospect with ants in their pants: clients who want it done yesterday. Sure shot problem creator. Charge rush rates.
- The vanishing boss: Now he’s here, now he’s not. He’ll be present in the first “vision” meeting, and vanish until you deliver on the second milestone. And then claim “you’ve got it all wrong”. Solution: keep him in loop – email, phone, text – whatever works.
And here are my additions to the list:
- Wannabe web millionaire with no commitment: someone who wants to make tons of money with this project, but has no time, money and background. He probably got an idea and his friends told him it’ll tick. But a good idea doesn’t make a business success. A project needs higher commitment from the client to succeed – higher than your own commitment.
- Mountain of molehill’er: They give you one line requirement, like, “I want a Facebook clone”. Another version is “I want Facebook + Google Analytics + the next big Web 4.0 startup”. All your alarms should ring when you hear something like that. The spec will grow faster than mushrooms.
- The Window Shopper: They ask for price / time estimates first. Have a long list of suppliers they are evaluating, but don’t have clear parameters for evaluation. May not have the time to answer your questions or may answer generically. Such guys will either go with the vendor who bid at 60% of the highest bidder or scrap the project.
Here are 3 signs of good prospects – do whatever it takes to win them
- The Lake Water Guy: Such prospects give you clear specifications, are calm and understanding. You can sense their calmness even when you speak to them. They have clear vision of what they want – may not know the technical details – and passionate about it.
- Suggestions Welcomed type: a prospect who’s willing to listen to your ideas is grounded and open. They will respect your skills and the discussions will make the project better.
- Been There, Done That, But Not Boasting It: These are people who’ve seen the ups and downs, have failed a few times and have seen successes too. They understand there will be challenges and are ready to give you the time and space to handle them.
What kind of customers have you seen? What’s your list of positive / warning signs?
(Image courtesy dev null)
Read Jeremy Chone‘s post about “Are You a Seesmic or Balsamiq Entrepreneur?” today. I love Balsamiq Mockups and have been using it for more than 6 months now. Peldi – the entrepreneur behind Balsamiq, his blog and ideas were also an inspiration behind us starting AppsMagnet.
The question Jeremy’s asking is whether you are a “scale-first” entrepreneur or “monetize-first”. With scale-first, you would go capture a big market share and then think about monetization. With “monetize-first” you will ensure your venture is cash flow positive from early days. Your plans will focus on getting more money.
I prefer the money-first approach. Guy Kawasaki suggested it in the Art of the Start, and I have experienced that cash flows are one of the most important factors for a business. When you focus on getting cash every month, instead of raising external / venture funding, you are much more relaxed, have faster (instant?) gratification and are on solid ground.
This has been the driving factor for AppsMagnet too. We have sold 32 copies of our Reports module for activeCollab in about a month, and PlannerX has received very good reviews so far. As a matter of fact, we have many people looking forward to the activeCollab version of PlannerX!
What type of entrepreneur are you?