37Signals Jason Fried Business Advice For Software Startups | Video
by Gogo Erekosima
(Admin - Denver, Colorado)
37Signals' Jason Fried is one of the founders whose business philosophies (and products) I admire. I find them commonsensical. And if you're one of my clients or subscribers you know how much I prize that attribute. This presentation was part of the Big Omaha 2010 and is about 37 minutes long...and not boring!!
Below the video, I'll share my application of his key points just in case you're not able to watch the complete video. Warning:Occasional foul language
Who will find this video useful?
1. Software Startups and Business (His Core Audience)
2. Digital Businesses / Online or Hybrid-Online Businesses
3. Entrepreneurs Who Need More Of A Bootstrapper Mindset
4. Marketers Who Don't Like To Sell (or Don't Know How)
5. VC-Backed (Venture Capital backed) Entrepreneurs
6. Small Business Owners Who Need A Business Turnaround
"Giving away something for free is easy...anyone can do that. Charging for something, and getting people to pay you for it means that you have to be good. And that to me is the right kind of pressure...sex, family,friends...after that, the most intimate relationship between two people, is when someone gives you a dollar bill, for what you do for a living. That's an incredibly intimate relationship."
Some Really Interesting Ideas
- Money Habits - Bootstrapped Companies learn how to make money from Day 1. I really like his simple juxtaposition of the "bootstrapped" company vs. the "VC-funded" company. However, a day after I watched this video, I got an email from a prospective business development consulting client who got me applying this lesson to an entrepreneurial profile that I had not really looked at initially - the self funded entrepreneur.
I realized that it's possible for an entrepreneurial business
- The "Other" Dark Side of VC Money - Taking VC money doesn't just mean that control of your company or its finances, it also means control of your time frame to success. He says that when you take VC money, you're "renting" the time you have to build your company, instead of "owning" your time. I never looked at it this way before- watch the video...he describes this much better than I do here.
- Innovation Vs. Usefulness - Innovation as an "over-rated" idea. The process he describes of generating ideas "for their own use" is a really good method of generating ideas in any small company that shares the same "need" space as its customers. Making products "we find useful" is a great idea for building a "design thinking" competency in your company.
- DIY Before You Hire (or Outsource) - This is not a new idea, I've gotten this from a bunch of different people over time, but like every great presenter, the situation he describes, and his delivery, make this lesson stick more dramatically - for instance, here's a nice quote:
"you can try and spend your way out of problems, or you can try to learn your way out of problems. And I think if you try and learn your way out of a problem, you're going to come up with a much better solution, and a much wider solution."
- Grow Slowly - So what if you have to grow slowly? He says, "Why Not?" ... there is a logic to this that I think has its place.
- The Wrong Kind of Apology- Don't apologize the way the politicians, laywers, and maybe an PR people might want you to. He shares a nifty way for using "your apologies" to measure how well you're doing in your relationship with your customers.
- Draw A Line In The Sand- Figure out what you stand for by knowing what you say "No" to. In my article on the "Strategic Choices" and the pain involved, I share that one of the 3 things that have to happen in strategic decision-making is that "something gets sacrificed". You have to be willing to say no to someone, something, some category of customer, some methods, or some ideas - if you will be said to have a position and a strategy. He gives examples from his days working in a retail tennis shop to drive the point home.
- Communicate What Customer Wants To Know - He puts this in a different way, but that's the point. Much of our work in the initial strategy and positioning projects for small and mid-sized companies usually has to do with communicating more about what customers want to know and less about these fancy - features, processes, specs, technology, etc. Must Watch!
- Less- The reason I named my firm Idea Age Consulting was to communicate the idea that the information age also ushered in the "age of overload", and that mastering a habit of stripping down has benefits in personal and entrepreneurial lives, and in the success of organizations.
One of the things I find so intriguing about Jason Fried and the guys at 37Signals is how well they stick to this mantra of "doing less" - less features, less work, less growth! A while ago, I read his excellent book "Rework" and was just impressed with how far they applied this idea.
"Just do less stuff...that's how you get more stuff done."
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