Author: Jason Fried and David Hansson
Year: Published: 09/03/2010
Length: 279 pages
Genre: Business, Nonfiction, Productivity
Get a copy: 1) Search in local bookstores to support small business 2) Amazon
Short Description: Rework reveals different, better, way to start a business in the 21st centuries. The authors, who are actually founders of a couple of really successful businesses themselves, preach that you need less than what everybody else is trying to convince you when you start a business. The important part is the starting part.
Rework reveals different, better, way to start a business in the 21st centuries. The authors, who are actually founders of a couple of really successful businesses themselves, preach that you need less than what everybody else is trying to convince you when you’re starting a business. The important part is the starting part. You don’t have to be a workaholic. You don’t need to waste precious time on paperwork or meetings. Nowadays, you don’t even need an office. All of those are excuses.
What you really need to do is stop talking and start working. Rework by Jason Fried and David Hansson holds some advice from the real world. From the real business world. Where productivity, focus, and patience are more important than huge initial capital and staff members.
I will start with the fact that Jason Fried and David Hansson are the guys behind Ruby on Rails and BaseCamp 3. If you haven’t heard either of the above two software (companies), you’re obviously not in the tech business. Ruby on Rails, or Rails, is a server-side web application framework that allows you to build online-based applications, such as WordPress. BaseCamp 3, is a project management system for teams. Really cool software that will save you a tone of time when communicating with colleagues. Enough about those, let’s see what the book holds:
Rework by Jason Fried and David Hansson is written in a straightforward language, easily digestible, motivating, inspirational. It’s a book about starting a business, in a way different than everybody else is telling you. By the time I finished the book, my hands were itching. I was eager to start something, to build, to create (I’ve actually created a website that helps you to start an online business). Rework is the perfect playbook for anyone who’s ever dreamed of doing something on their own: product, podcast, website, book.
If you’re looking for a way to escape your boring job and follow your dreams, this book is for you. Rework is for creators, artists, hardcore entrepreneurs, people who want to leave a mark in this world. Actually, I realized the existence of this book from an email marketing software I use on one of my sites: MailerLite: “MailerLite was created after reading the book ‘Rework’ by Basecamp. We still think that it is the best book about business.”
The book is divided into 12 chapters. Each chapter has a couple of subchapters that are around a page long – the content is really stimmed, only the essentials are left along. Because the book is really awesome to read, at some point you will really want more content, but that’s against what the authors are preaching: less time procrastinating, more time doing.
Probably the best part of the book is that is written based on experience, not based on academic theories or from old-fashioned professors who fill their books with pointless data. The content is concise and digested, ready for you to consume. They even mention in the book that they intentionally cut the book in half – from 57,000 words to about 27,000 words. For obvious reasons:”Writers eliminate good pages to make a great book.” And it’s great indeed. Full of practical advice, Rework deserve a place on your bookshelf.
Notes, thoughts, and essential takeaways that I want to remember from the book. My main goal is to leave you with curated content, to which you can easily return to in the future for reference, that’s holding (spoil free) insights of the book, but mainly actionable steps, that can be used in our real lives, today:
Small, Frugal, Profitable
Some will say that you can’t compete with the big boys that are already serving tons of clients without heavy marketing, advertisement budget, or by building a product that do less things than your competition. Some will be right. Still, do you really need all that clients at first? You will say yes, of course, but imagine that you start an online business today, and tomorrow, you get thousands of clients, ok, let’s make that hundred of clients. Think about this for a moment: Can you handle the load? All the emails, all the calls. Can you really ship all of the orders all by yourself? Yes, you can a guy, five guys, but can you really trust that someone? Do you think he will share your passion for the product as you do?
If you’re a one-man army you probably don’t need 100,000 customers. If you want to escape the modern struggles and the busy atmosphere at your current day job, I bet you don’t want 16 hours working days, 7 days in the week, 365 days of the year. You will want to expand, yes, but at a certain point where it will be comfortable and still fun – like when you got your first order.
A lot of people think that they need thousands of customers to make a living doing what they love. In reality, you need around a 1,000 true fans. If a thousand people give you $10 each month for your experience, product, service, book, you will have $10,000 a month. I believe that’s a good salary for an entrepreneur.
You don’t really need an office. You don’t really need $50,000 to start. You don’t really need a PR firm or a professional web designer to create your logo – you can draw something on Paint for a start. You don’t even need a retail store, you can start by selling stuff online. You don’t even need people to answer emails or pick up the phone, you can do that yourself.
Less things, staff, offices, even clients, means less emails, meetings, pointless conversations, calls, orders, but more time for creating, more time for enjoying what you’ve started.
Don’t Postpone Decisions
Making timely decisions allows you to move forward, to make progress. If you wait, postpone, things will pile up. And piles are either ignored or have the power to suck the life out of us.
Avoiding decisions is contagious. I know people who constantly postpone making decisions or executing stuff that have to be done.. Their favorite expression in their vocabulary is: “I will do that later.” That later is indefinite. It can be today, tomorrow, next month, or never.
We actually all do it every now or then. When you’re wife asks you to cut the grass or fix the door handle, you will often say, “I will do it later”. But your intention is never to do it and you hope that your wife will forget. Of course, she doesn’t and you end up fighting instead of enjoying our Sunday meal.
Commit to making decisions in time. There will never be a perfect solution or a perfect time for anything. Make a choice and move forward. This way you build momentum and move things into the Done folder. Even if the decision/solution is not perfect, you can always try to make things better in time. However, postponing and waiting for the perfect moment to come is the worst possible option.
This applies both to your personal and for your business life. When you have to decide on something now, take the time and figure out what you’ll need to do. If you make a mistake, you can correct it later. But no matter how much you plan or you analyze, you will always get something wrong.
Long projects zap morale. The longer it takes to develop, the less likely it is to launch. Make the call, make progress, and get something out now – while you’ve got the motivation and momentum to do so.” Jason Fried and David Hansson
Gear Doesn’t Matter, Your Vision Does
When people decide that they want to create their own YouTube channel, website, write their first book, or simply want to shoot photos, their first thought is about what gear they will need before they actually start: “Oh, I can’t start my vlog till I don’t have all the cameras Casey Neistat has.” Or: “I can’t start writing a book till I have the perfect pen.”
I get it. I also think about those things. Getting new equipment: camera, laptop, headphones, skateboard, even a freaking mouse is cool, it’s sexy. It gives you a dose of dopamine. However, even if you buy the same camera, microphone, tripod stand, and even the same glasses Casey has, you will still lack the essential – it will be still you. People who are successful nowadays, have succeeded because of these two things: First, they have been around the block for several years constantly producing content, and getting better doing it. Secondly, they have their own vision, which is definitely different from yours. And of course it’s different, you and Casey Neistat are not the same people.
People all around the world start businesses the wrong way. The first thing they do is to spend hundreds of dollars for new, expensive equipment: “I can’t start a website till I have a cool new laptop that will help me type faster. My plan: first get a laptop and then start a website.” However, a new laptop or the expensive camera won’t automatically type the words for you or shoot great pictures. It will be still you – minus the amount spend for that new camera. Fancy gear can help, yes, but in reality, the editor of the content is still going to be you and you should focus more time on improving your skills and think about what you want to say.
It’s really tempting to resist obtaining cool gadgets instead of what you’re going to do with those tools. What really matters is your vision and your plan to make great stuff that will potentially get you customers and sales. All of the above can be achieved with what you currently have. What you put on the table is what matters, not how you make it. If it’s good, people will want it. It won’t matter if you even used an old desktop computer no one ever uses.
It’s OK If It’s Not Perfect
The media around is in constant pursuit towards perfection. We see all around us well-designed magazine covers, perfectly shot commercials, people with ripped, symmetrical bodies who look like they never tasted a burger. You see a picture of a desk like this one: link, and you think that the person sitting behind it is this extremely neat guy. It looks nice, but we all know it’s not like that in reality.
My desk is never organized. At this very moment, while I’m writing this book review, I have 3 books opened, two glasses: one empty and the other one is half full with water, empty bowl, my journal, three coasters, a knife (yep), and of course, my laptop, smartphone, and my mouse. Although I’m writing through a pile of stuff, spread around me, I still manage to write something. It’s surely not perfect, but I do really think that’s interesting – I hope.
When something is too polished, it loses its identity. It sounds fake. And people can spot fake from a mile away. When you reveal your flaws to the world, people will connect with you, understand you, like you. You might not seem as professional, but you will seem a lot more genuine.
People all around the world are trying to sound big. The stiff language, the formal announcements, the fake smiles, etc. They think that this kind of behavior is making them look better in the eyes of others. But it really just makes them sound ridiculous. It sounds like they’re reading from a script. Maybe they do have the knowledge, and the expertise, but they lack the charisma, which is essential characteristic if you want to be accepted and understood.
So talk like you talk with your friends and don’t be afraid if your design is not perfect. Put it out there, people will love to see what’s cooking and help you make it even better.
Questions Before You Start
There is a fine line between the reasons you start a project and the reasons you might abandon a project. It’s a self-contradictory statement, but you can both start and quit something for the exact same reasons. For example, you decided to start a company that makes backpacks. Your idea is to make the ultimate, most-beautiful, bag in the world that will help travelers around the world pack easily and thanks to the special zipper technology, safe. Three months after you’ve started, you decide to quit – you’re not adding enough value. Or at least that’s what your brain tells you.
Before you start, anything, ask yourself questions. Difficult questions. These questions:
Why are you doing this? – You can quite easily find yourself doing something only because someone else is doing it or because someone told you to do it. It’s quite common these days. You see someone starting a vlog and you end up spending a week trying to start your own but not knowing why. So, the first question you need to ask yourself before executing any task, is: Why are you working on this? What is this for? Who will benefit from it? These question will help you better understand the process and the actual task.
What problem are you solving? – I read somewhere that if you’re planning to write a book, and if you want that book to sell like crazy, it should be either fun, entertaining, emotional or it should educate the reader. So think about this: What kind of problem is your book, or whatever, is going to solve? Novels don’t solve a problem, but they give emotional delight – like giving cocaine to an addict. If you’re going to educate people, what are you going to teach them? What kind of problem will they solve after they read your stuff?
Are you adding value? – Creating a product is fairly easy. However, adding value is really hard. You can create your own backpack company and manufacture them. Still, if they’re not adding additional value, your bags will be “just another backpack on the shelf.” Is this thing you’re working on actually making your product more valuable for customers? Can they get more out of it than if they buy the product your competitor is selling?
Is this really worth it? – Probably the most important question: Is what you’re doing really worth it? Is, becoming an author of a book something you really want? Probably the most important question: Is what you’re doing really worth it? Is, becoming an author of a book something you really want? Is it worth spending one year writing a book? Is it worth spending all of your money on a new car? Think about what kind of value the thing you’re so obsessed with, will going to bring. If it’s not enough, that it’s probably not worth to start at all.
What could you be doing instead? – This question applies to basically everything in life: What else can I do? It keeps you vigilant and curious. You’re thinking of starting a website to sell your own paintings. Ok, but starting a website is a daunting task and it will cost you a lot of time and money. Resources which you can spend on creating new paintings. What can you do instead? You can share your art on social media and sell them there, initially. This will cost you nothing and it will take only a few minutes of your time. On a later stage, you can create a site.
A lot of people say we can’t do what we do. They call us a fluke. They advise others to ignore our advice. Some have even called us irresponsible, reckless, and — gasp! – unprofessional. These critics don’t understand how a company can reject, growth, meetings, budget, boards of directors, advertising, salespeople, and “the real world”, yet thrive. They don’t think you can have employees who almost never see each other spread out across eight cities on two continents. They say a lot of things. We say they’re wrong. We’ve proved it. And we wrote this book to show you how to prove them wrong too.” Jason Fried and David Hansson
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