37 Startup Insights

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37 Startup Insights

 

 Earlier this year, I had a chance to attend SxSW.  One of the highlights of my trip was a startup dinner which included Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, the founders of 37signals.  At the time, they had just come out with their new book "Rework".  I had downloaded a copy to my Kindle, but hadn't had a chance to read it yet.  Now I have.  Twice.  It's a great book.  Lots of practical advice for entrepreneurs.  I highly recommend it.  My second time through, I decided to pull out some of my favorite parts. onstartups rework

You're encouraged to share your favorite insight by using the convenient "tweet" links next to each one.  

 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?


Posted by Dharmesh Shah on Mon, Jun 07, 2010

COMMENTS

Great read! 37 signals are really a class of their own in startups!  
 

posted on Monday, June 07, 2010 at 12:21 PM by Rainu


I love 37 signals book "getting real" 
 
We build our app, marketmetweet, using their principles :)

posted on Monday, June 07, 2010 at 12:49 PM by Tammy


everything from 37 signals is a good read. love their stuff. great post

posted on Monday, June 07, 2010 at 1:05 PM by Vinay


Signal 38: Don't be in such a rush that you ignore your goal. Case in point: These quotes are incomplete, you stopped at the first comment, so many are unreadable.

posted on Monday, June 07, 2010 at 1:06 PM by Mark Lyon


Interesting: 
 
FYI type on point 19 whould

posted on Monday, June 07, 2010 at 1:16 PM by John


I still like "Hope is not a business strategy."

posted on Monday, June 07, 2010 at 1:21 PM by don skerrett


there seems to be a bug, any insight that has a comma in it gets everything after the comma truncated. I noticed when I tried to retweet and the tweet had more about the insight than I previously read.

posted on Monday, June 07, 2010 at 1:26 PM by MoMad


Nice list. But... 
You rarely regret saying no but you often regret saying yes. Really?  
 
I thought it's exact opposite. I think most regretful statement is "I had a chance but I didn't do it". 
 
 
 

posted on Monday, June 07, 2010 at 2:29 PM by MOT


Brilliant, really. 
C-,

posted on Monday, June 07, 2010 at 2:42 PM by Chris Russell


I like #14, it resonates more now a days with the startups in cleantech than ever before. 
 
Are the VC's and enterprenuers ever going to be thrive in an ecosystem that prioritizes exits much more than the commitments? In the US, this is going to take longer than in other countries.

posted on Monday, June 07, 2010 at 3:04 PM by MP Divakar


@MOT: The "no" referred to in the insight is saying no to features/projects/complexity.

posted on Monday, June 07, 2010 at 3:05 PM by Dharmesh Shah


I've read Rework once and my big takeaway was that it's a big advantage to be small! You can be flexible and you can adapt quickly, so take advantage of that. Don't try to emulate the big companies -- make them sorry they can't emulate you.

posted on Monday, June 07, 2010 at 3:20 PM by Paul Sherland


I guess I should look at it like this. I guess I said "yes" to projects to which I should have said "No". I ended up saying "No" to the projects which I should have said yes. 
 
so in essence saying "yes" was the problem, that left me no bandwidth to say "yes" any more. 
 
Thanks a lot for your response. 
 
 

posted on Monday, June 07, 2010 at 3:23 PM by MOT


Time was invented to prevent everything from happening all at once. 
 
 
 
Often we become overwhelmed with so many things (tasks) in trying to achieve our goals. Prioritization is a key element in getting things done.

posted on Monday, June 07, 2010 at 4:00 PM by Ron Vincent


3) You have the most information when you’re doing something, not before you've done it.. 
 
 
 
My market is shifting and I wanted to learn active with the combination: White label shops, social media and guerilla marketing. During world chaimpoinship 2010 I made a startpage in Dutch colors for soccerteam Holland. With this white label from Google I learned that functionality, confidence and added value are really important.  
 
 
 
In this case: people won't just change their habbit for a bit of color. I learn a lot by really taking action.

posted on Monday, June 07, 2010 at 4:29 PM by Baye


All good ideas and some critical but I think there is a major missing element. Good health is a business tool. If your not at your best your bottom line will suffer...This has become my business - helping professionals (start ups) get every edge possible - our focus is the 24 x 7 start up that needs help with energy, multitasking, sleep and nutrition -www.youthingessentials.com to get our free guide.

posted on Monday, June 07, 2010 at 6:09 PM by Rick Maltin


Just shared this with the marketing and sales group at my office. Its a really great reminder for all businesses- not just start-ups. 
Thanks for sharing it- great re-energizer for a Monday.

posted on Monday, June 07, 2010 at 6:21 PM by Amy Berry


Had the opportunity to interview Jason for the Startup Success Podcast on how ReWORK applies to startups ( http://bit.ly/d8xy5e).

posted on Monday, June 07, 2010 at 8:01 PM by Bob Walsh


Rework is definitely a great read for entrepreneurs. Great post!

posted on Monday, June 07, 2010 at 9:47 PM by Ole Ronberg


Every signal has a great depth to itone needs to stop at each one of them ponder over and move onto next actually tracking the way to successful business.

posted on Monday, June 07, 2010 at 11:25 PM by Rajesh Bansal


Did you find more insights but post only 37 (in reference to 37signals) ?

posted on Monday, June 07, 2010 at 11:28 PM by Name


Words of wisdom.

posted on Tuesday, June 08, 2010 at 3:17 AM by Chris Hill


Very good post. Thanks for sharing.37 Signals is awesome.

posted on Tuesday, June 08, 2010 at 3:17 AM by Ana Bacellar


Very inspiring post! Really helps you to spring into action!

posted on Tuesday, June 08, 2010 at 4:35 AM by Annemarie Rebel


Solving your own problems... excellent insight... and where all of the best solutions come from.  
 
Great concept for a post by the way.

posted on Tuesday, June 08, 2010 at 4:57 AM by Brendan Hughes


It is quite easy for Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson to make such big statements but very tough to explain what each of them actually means according to them. Coz readers will decode them according to their own understanding :-(

posted on Tuesday, June 08, 2010 at 5:10 AM by Maverick


great insight. comes in handy. thanks Dharmesh

posted on Tuesday, June 08, 2010 at 7:00 AM by Stephen Wachira


great insight. comes in handy. thanks Dharmesh

posted on Tuesday, June 08, 2010 at 7:00 AM by Stephen Wachira


great insight. comes in handy. thanks Dharmesh

posted on Tuesday, June 08, 2010 at 7:01 AM by Stephen Wachira


great insight. comes in handy. thanks Dharmesh

posted on Tuesday, June 08, 2010 at 7:01 AM by Stephen Wachira


great insight. comes in handy. thanks Dharmesh

posted on Tuesday, June 08, 2010 at 7:02 AM by Stephen Wachira


Spot on.  
 
37 signals know what they're talking about.

posted on Tuesday, June 08, 2010 at 9:13 AM by web design york


I love how there is a typo on #19 in this post and no one has fixed it. The message is there, the content is great, so just leave it be. It doesn't matter and fixing it is a waste of time. People will figure it out! : )

posted on Tuesday, June 08, 2010 at 11:03 AM by Andy Cook


I love this list, and I loved reading the Rework book a couple of months ago.  
 
Time to tweet this post out to my followers now!  

posted on Tuesday, June 08, 2010 at 11:08 AM by Jeremy Campbell


Great article! My favourite quotes/Insigts were: 
 
7) Don’t sit around and wait for someone else to make the change you want to see. 
 
 
10) What you do matters, not what you think or say or plan. 
 
 
13) Start a business, not a startup 
 
 
20) Decide. You’re as likely to make a great call today as you are tomorrow 
 
 
21) The longer it takes to develop, the less likely it is to launch 
 
 
23) Focus on substance, not fashion. Focus on what won't change 
 
 
24) When good enough gets the job done, go for it. 
 
 
26) Pour yourself into your product. 
 
 
27) You rarely regret saying no but you often regret saying yes. 
 
 
34) Marketing is not a department, it's the sum total of everything you do. 
 
 
37) A business without a path to profit is a hobby. 
 
 
Big shout out to all the other entrepreneuers out there! It's a relieve to know I'm not alone!  
 
Ivar

posted on Tuesday, June 08, 2010 at 12:37 PM by Ivar Moesman


My favorite is #1. I've been working for MassChallenge, a global startup competition, since January. The product is a competition full of resources to help entrepreneurs win. But the enterprise is larger than that. The founders hope to catalyze innovation and create jobs during this recession period. The MassChallenge point of view is that now is the perfect time to create substantive, high impact businesses because of the positive effects on the ecosystem. That perspective is what has made the competition successful so far.

posted on Tuesday, June 08, 2010 at 2:05 PM by Amy


I have a few rules up on my board where I can see them every day: 
 
 
 
Less talking, more listening 
 
 
 
Try it anyway; you never know what might happen 
 
 
 
Remember why you are doing it 
 
 
 
Keep your focus and concentration, avoid distractions 
 
 
 
When in doubt, ask someone who knows 
 
 
 
Don’t delay, hesitate or procrastinate. Do it now 
 
 
 
Be honest at all times 
 
 
 
Integrity is critical 
 
 
 
Provide value for money 
 
 
 
Say NO if necessary 
 
 
 
Develop network 
 
 
 
Trust yourself 
 
 
 
Be realistic but live your dream 
 
 
 
Read these rules every day 
 

posted on Wednesday, June 09, 2010 at 12:18 AM by Theo


Love this article! 
What are your favorite insights from Rework? 
4) Stuff that was impossible just a few years ago is simple today. 
The longer it takes to develop, the less likely it is to launch. 
You have the most information when you’re doing something, not before you've done it. 
Leave the poetry in what you make, there is beauty in imperfection

posted on Thursday, June 17, 2010 at 9:05 AM by Lalitha Brahma


Excellent post. As a habitual entrepreneur and recent return to freelancing there are some real jewels on this list.

posted on Thursday, June 17, 2010 at 1:29 PM by Chris von Nieda | SEO Content Services


Love the book, the ideas and it's a great way to approach work. A must read for business owners. 

posted on Friday, June 18, 2010 at 4:11 AM by Michael


I love how you intelligently added the [tweet] links to encourage sharing. 
 
Thanks for the tips :)

posted on Tuesday, June 29, 2010 at 5:55 AM by Aymeric


tweet option was a smart idea. i retweeted number 3. great concepts hear

posted on Tuesday, June 29, 2010 at 6:17 PM by daniel


While I think these are great nuggets of wisdom, I get worried about people reading them as absolute, instead of guidelines that may or may not be relevant for specific situations. 
 
It took me a while, but I wrote up a devil's advocate post on several of the sayings. Hopefully it will add depth to the conversation around these insights and when not to apply them.

posted on Wednesday, July 07, 2010 at 12:19 AM by Trevor Lohrbeer


"Pour yourself into your product" ....love that! And I do!

posted on Monday, July 26, 2010 at 4:43 PM by Robin Feltner


Very good post. Excellent. Was such a good read!

posted on Tuesday, July 27, 2010 at 7:50 PM by toronto computer repair


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