Book Review “Rework” by Jason Fried & D. H. Hansson

This book offers lots of good advises on running a “small” business based on their experience running a small 16-person company called 37 signals. This book is a quick read since it’s got artworks/drawings almost every three pages or so; they surely spice things up a bit. Some of the advises are just common sense but some go against the grain the common beliefs for which they offer good arguments.

The advises stand out for me are:
1. The “real” world may not be real. Don’t use it to justify for not trying starting your company.
2. Learn from your success and do it better rather than learn from your or others’ mistakes. Failure is not a prerequisite for success. “Evolution doesn’t linger on past failures, it’s always building upon what worked.”
3. On planning: it’s all guesswork. “Working without a plan may seem scare. But blindly following a plan that has no relationship with the reality is even scarier.”
4. On growth and size: “Small is not just a stepping-stone. Small is a great destination in itself… Anyone who runs a business that’s sustainable and profitable, whether it’s big or small should be proud.”
5. Be a starter (not entrepreneur). You just need an idea, a touch of confidence and a push to get started.
6. Make a dent on universe: If you want to do something, do something that matters.
7. Scratch your own itch: Make something you want to use.
8. Draw a line on the sand: “When you don’t know what you believe, everything becomes an argument. Everything is debatable.”
9. Don’t look for outside money for the following reasons: a. you give up control, b. “cashing out” begins to trump building a quality business. c. spending other people’s money is addictive. d. you have no leverage. e. customers move down the totem pole, f. raising money is incredibly distracting.
10. Start a business, not a startup. “A business without a a path to profit isn’t a business, it’s a hobby.”
11. Embrace constraints. Use them to force creativity.
12. You’re better off with a kick-ass half than a half-asses whole. Start chopping.
13. Be a curator: Stick to what’s truly essential.
14. Focus on what won’t change. Things that people are going to want today and ten years from now.
15. Don’t get obsessed over tools.
16. Sell your by-products.
17. Reasons to quit: Ask yourself: Why are you doing this? What problems are you solving? Is it actually useful? Are you adding value? Will this change behavior? Is there an easier way? What could you be doing instead? Is it really worth it?
18. Find a judo solution – one that delivers maximum efficiency with minimum effort.
19. Make tiny decisions so you can afford to change.
20. Don’t copy, be influenced.
21. De-commoditize your product. Make you part of your product or service. Make it something no one else can offer.
22. Pick a fight with your competitors. Taking a stand always stand out.
23. Under-do your competition. Do less than your competitors to beat them.
24. Say no by default. Don’t believe that “customer is always right” stuff.
25. Let your customers outgrow you. You can’t be everything to everyone. Companies need to be true to a type of customer more than a specific individual customer with changing needs.
26. Build an audience. Lucky companies have fans. Share information that’s valuable and you’ll slowly build a loyal audience.
27. Out-teach your competition: Teach and you’ll form a bond you just don’t get from traditional marketing tactics. Great chefs give away recipes in cookbooks.
28. Get behind the scenes. Give people a backstage pass to show how your business works. They’ll develop a deeper level of understanding and appreciation for what you do.
29. Emulate drug dealers. Make your product so good, so addictive that giving customers a small, free taste makes them come back for more.
30. Everything is marketing. It’s the sum total of everything you do.
31. On hiring: Do it yourself first. Hire to kill pain. If you lose people, don’t replace him/her immediately. Pass on great people you don’t need. Hire slowly to avoid winding up at a cocktail party of strangers.
32. On resume: check the cover letter and trust your gut reaction.
33. With a small team, everyone must work, not delegate work.
34. Higher great writers. Great writers know how to communicate.
35. Own your bad news. It’s better be you who’s telling the bad news.
36. Put everyone on the front line. No one should be shielded from criticism.
37. You don’t create a culture, it’s a by-product of consistent behavior.
38. Decisions are temporary. The ability to change course is one of the big advantages of being small.
39. Policies are organizational scar tissue – codified overreactions to situations that are unlikely to happen again or collective punishment for the misdeeds of an individual.
40. Writing for one and sound like you. Think of one person to write email to.
41. Be aware of the 4-letter words: need, can’t, easy, and ASAP.
42. Inspiration is perishable. Grab it and put it to work on ideas that are immortal.