The New York Times Best Seller, REWORK, was written by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. They are the founders of Basecamp (formerly 37 Signals), a software company that has created a loyal following of millions of people globally. This is an easy, captivating read for all businesses, in all industries, large or small. It is broken down into bite-sized chapters that detail their mindset and how it differs from the norm. It also looks at the actions they took to become a major business success story. This book seemingly goes against every business protocol, or at the very least, changes it up beyond recognition. In doing so, it incorporates a new refreshing way of doing business.
Their advice isn’t the standard business fare, yet makes a lot of sense. Here is a quick glance at some of the most memorable points made throughout the book.
Plan less and do more
Their advice is to talk less, meet less, and do more. Be more productive. We have all experienced the challenge of meeting upon meeting, but the project is still progressing at a snail’s pace. Meetings aren’t always fruitful. In fact, many times they give the dangerous illusion of advancement. If there is a way to further a project, spend your time doing that. Talk less about it and activate the plan. Meetings can be good. They are a great way to touch base, but if they are not utilized correctly, and overindulged, they waste everyone’s time. At times they can actually create more confusion and frustration.
In business, we tend to be under the misconception that meeting more means we’re getting more done. Often, that just isn’t the case. The founders of Basecamp suggest meeting less often, with an agenda that ensures everyone knows what the next step is.
Scratch your own itch
What is it that you want but just can’t seem to find in a service or product? Scratch your own itch and create your vision of something that you have needed but couldn’t source. They suggest building your business from this place because you are not the only person who has experienced this frustration. Alternatively, how can you add value to the market that isn’t currently there, or isn’t done well? Do it, take action! Fried and Hansson found their success by finding gaps in other software designs and implementing a more efficient user-friendly interface. This design was also built for a very niche market that wanted to work with a less complex system.
Have an opinion and stand behind it
Your brand is a reflection of you. The way that you communicate your brand sets you apart from your competition. To stand out effectively, there should be a strong stance in terms of what you stand for. This is your voice within and around your brand, and it’s personal. Once you take a stand and show who you are, decisions regarding the direction of your business become more obvious over time.
The authors of REWORK suggest that when you stand for something through your brand, you will find a loyal band of followers with which your message resonates. You will also find others that don’t like your viewpoint at all. They suggest being mentally prepared for both. To attempt to reach everyone and play it safe, you may compromise your message and overall audience. Dare to have an opinion, and voice it. Trying to please everyone is a sure-fire way to a failing business venture.
Focus more on your business and less on the competition
We all know that you should evaluate your competitors to determine their strengths and weaknesses and to determine how to strategically position yourself. You need to ensure that you are providing something that is different, better or unique. This makes sense, however, becoming obsessed with your competition does not. If you become a little too preoccupied with what your competition is doing, you put yourself in a position in which you are in a constant state of reacting to every new position, service or product they reveal. This is not a position of strength, but weakness. You should have confidence in your own vision, and arm yourself with the knowledge you need to create that vision. This means truly understanding your industry and the direction it’s going in.
Look to the future and build your vision
Self-knowledge and trust in your own abilities are the keys to genuinely and proactively blaze your own path. Stealing ideas from your competition in terms of phrases, services or content doesn’t genuinely reflect you, and frankly, people sense it. If you are so distanced from yourself that you don’t know what you stand for, or how to live it, then dig in deep and do the work. According to the authors of REWORK, it matters. If you are too nervous to truly express yourself or trust your own instincts as it relates to business, the authors of the book suggest that you need to take the time to reflect. If you don’t feel comfortable trusting yourself, then being an entrepreneur may not be your path.
After reading REWORK, you will find yourself reflecting on the tried and true methods of doing business today. That’s a good thing. Our world and every industry are changing at a rapid pace. It makes sense to re-evaluate whether the systems we have in place make sense in the present and the future. If you read this book, you will want to do things a little differently, and frankly, to trust your instincts more.
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