Today I thought I’d take a break from blogging about strictly legal topics and instead write a post about my favorite business book: Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson of 37 Signals. The beauty of Rework is that it’s full of practical advice that often gets overlooked. Yet the book isn’t full of cliches, it isn’t littered with stale ideas, and it doesn’t pander to its audience.
Here are just a few of my favorite bits of advice offered by Fried and Heinemeier Hansson in Rework:
- Make a dent in the universe: you do better work when you feel like it makes a difference. You don’t need to invent the fountain of youth or be the next Steve Jobs, but you should do something that makes your customers’ lives better. And Fried and Heinemeier Hansson remind their readers not to wait: “You should feel an urgency about this too. You don’t have forever. This is your life’s work.” I couldn’t agree more.
- Draw a line in the sand: as you endeavor to make your dent, don’t forget about your plan to make that dent. You have to remember why you chose to go into your particular line of business. If you really want to make your dent in the universe, sometimes you’re going to have to put your foot down: “You need to have a backbone. You need to know what you’re willing to fight for. And then you need to show the world.”
- You need a commitment strategy, not an exit strategy: too many founders are thinking about how they are going to leave the company they are forming before the company even gets off the ground. I understand sometimes investors want to know what their exit options will be, and that because the investors will want to know, it’s often an issue at the forefront of founders’ minds as they prepare their company for fundraising. But, I think the authors rightly point out that this focus on exit strategy can have a perverse effect on the direction of the start-up: “when you build a company with the intention of being acquired, you emphasize the wrong things. Instead of focusing on getting customers to love you, you worry about who’s going to buy you. That’s the wrong thing to obsess over.”
- Be at-home good: Don’t build a product that looks nice upon first glance but crumbles shortly after purchase. Smart companies build something “that’s at-home good. When you get the product home, you’re actually more impressed with it than when you were at the store.” I’m pretty sure everyone agrees that products that are only in-store good are infuriating. Don’t make those products; it’s not a sustainable business model, and it’s not going to help you make a dent in the world.
- Inspiration is perishable: When you you’re inspired to make a new product, or make an improvement to your business, do it before you no longer have the motivation. “Inspiration is a magical thing, a productivity multiplier, a motivator. But it won’t wait for you. Inspiration is a now thing. If it grabs you, grab it right back and put it to work.”
- Go to sleep: I know that being a founder of a company is a full-time job and then some, but you’re not doing anyone any favors if you don’t get sleep. “Foregoing sleep is a bad idea. Sure, you get those extra hours right now, but you pay in spades later: You destroy your creativity, morale, and attitude.”
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