Rework is the new business book by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, the executive team of 37signals. It aims to rewrite the rules of succeeding in business with a fresh, down-to-earth approach. In all 12 chapters the authors give advice contrary to everything you’ve been taught about business success. (“Emulate drug dealers? Huh?”) They aren’t saying these things just to be different, though. They make sense. That’s what so promising about this new business crowd. How we’ve learned in the past has been based on trust and tradition; the future is based on logic through proof and transparency.
Rework is a quick read. It has big margins, illustrations, and short rapid-fire sentences. But the amount of experience and great advice is equal to that of a book three times its size. With topics ranging from productivity to progress to hiring to promotion, even to damage control, practicality soaks every page. And nobody could say it better than Jason Fried“Concise is what we do. No one should be reading a business book for days. Read quick and get back to work”. You're encouraged to share your favorite insight by using the convenient "tweet" links next to each one.
Basically, it’s a manifesto for doing work differently. Written from their experience, Jason and David blow up many of the workplace norms you find today in most companies, big and small. For example, here’s a look at some of their chapter titles: Learning from mistakes is overrated, Planning is guessing, Meetings are toxic, and Underdo your competition. Also, they claim that workaholism is a bad idea. Employees come to the office if and when they feel like it, or else they work from home. I don’t believe in the 40-hour workweek, so we cut all that BS about being somewhere for a certain number of hours. I have no idea how many hours my employees work — I just know they get the work done.
37 "Signals" From 37 Signals
1) Great businesses have a point of view, not just a product or service. [tweet]
2) Writing a plan makes you feel in control of things you don’t actually control. [tweet]
3) You have the most information when you’re doing something, not before you've done it. [tweet]
4) Stuff that was impossible just a few years ago is simple today. [tweet]
5) Failure is not a prerequisite for success. [tweet]
6) Don’t make assumptions about how big you should be ahead of time. [tweet]
7) Don’t sit around and wait for someone else to make the change you want to see. [tweet]
8) When you build what you need, you can assess quality directly instead of by proxy. [tweet]
9) Solving your own problem lets you fall in love with what you’re making. [tweet]
10) What you do matters, not what you think or say or plan. [tweet]
11) When you want something bad enough, you make the time. [tweet]
12) The perfect time to start something never arrives. [tweet]
13) Start a business, not a startup. [tweet]
14) You need a committment strategy, not an exit strategy. [tweet]
15) Huge organizations talk instead of act, and meet instead of do. [tweet]
16) Build half a product, not a half-assed product. [tweet]
17) Getting to greatness starts by cutting out stuff that’s merely good. [tweet]
18) The real world isn’t a place, it's an excuse. It's a justification for not trying. [tweet]
19) The big picture is all you should be worrying about in the beginning. Ignore the details. [tweet]
20) Decide. You’re as likely to make a great call today as you are tomorrow. [tweet]
21) The longer it takes to develop, the less likely it is to launch. [tweet]
22) It’s the stuff you leave out that matters. [tweet]
23) Focus on substance, not fashion. Focus on what won't change. [tweet]
24) When good enough gets the job done, go for it. [tweet]
25) When you make tiny decisions, you can't make big mistakes. [tweet]
26) Pour yourself into your product. [tweet]
27) You rarely regret saying no but you often regret saying yes. [tweet]
28) Better your customers grow out of your product, than never grow into them. [tweet]
29) You can’t paint over a bad experience with good marketing. [tweet]
30) All companies have customers. Fortunate companies have audiences too. [tweet]
31) Instead of out-spending your competitors, out-teach them. [tweet]
32) Let customers look behind the curtain. [tweet]
33) Leave the poetry in what you make, there is beauty in imperfection. [tweet]
34) Marketing is not a department, it's the sum total of everything you do. [tweet]
35) Don’t hire for pleasure; hire to kill pain. [tweet]
36) Don’t make up problems you don’t have yet. [tweet]
37) A business without a path to profit is a hobby. [tweet]
What are your favorite insights from Rework?
The 37 Signals team behind the project management software I and thousands of others use daily (Basecamp) published a new book laying out some of the principles behind their success. They call Rework a “by product” of their business; the equivalent of a cookbook written by a chef confident enough that their mastery will still trump any upstart competitors armed with detailed instructions. One of the ideas promoted in Rework, after all, is to strengthen and promote your business by teaching–customers, other business owners, even competitors:
[E]mulate famous chefs. They cook, so they write cookbooks. What do you do? What are your “recipes”? What’s your “cookbook”? What can you tell the world about how you operate that’s informative, educational, and promotional? This book is our cookbook.
The dream employee for a lot of companies is a twenty-something with as little of a life as possible outside of work–someone who’ll be fine working fourteen-hour days and sleeping under his desk. But packing a room full of these burn-the-midnight-oil types isn’t as great as it seems. You don’t need more hours; you need better hours. When people have something to do at home, they get down to business. They get their work done because they have somewhere else to be. They find ways to be more efficient because they have to.
-Rework (affiliate link)
Rework teaches to be as small (and thus agile) as possible, seek outside funding only when absolutely necessary, and make money rather than spend it.
Therefore, I think Jason and David’s experience of running a business is great for the average problogger. You don’t need the typical business book that caters to offline businesses and big corporations.
Also, 37signals understands the power of blogging. As a small business, they don’t have a sales team or a marketing department. In fact, most of their business comes from their blog. That’s how I found out about them. Their blog, Signal vs. Noise, is very popular with over 100k RSS subscribers.
The book can help you get into the business mindset, which is the mindset you need to be in to really make money – not the blogging mindset. A blog is a great marketing channel but you need a strong business as a foundation to have the best chance of quitting your day job.
There will be sections in the book that may not apply to your situation right now. For example, it has some essays about hiring employees but most bloggers I know are not in a position to hire. Still, the other sections are well worth the price of the book and who knows, in the future, you may want to hire employees or freelancers for your blog.