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June 11, 2013 | Tech | Posted by Craig Baldwin Craig Baldwin

Rework Book Review

I recently read the book Rework. If you’re not familiar with the title, it was written by the guys from 37 Signals, the company that brought you Basecamp.


37 Signals’ foundation is all about being different from stodgy old business standards and doing things their way. It’s hard to argue with their success, and the book carries a lot of refreshing thoughts and ideas.

Rework contains many short and simple ideas, which are expanded upon a couple pages at a time. While I won’t bore you with all the details, I will share some of the quotes and ideas that really stuck out to me. Hopefully this quick Rework book review will help with your business and culture.


Success is the experience that actually counts


This quote speaks specifically to the “fail fast, fail often” mindset. While failing fast is helpful for iteration. The 37 Signals team points out that learning from failure only eliminates one option, it doesn’t give the right answer. Real lessons come from the moments when you hit the nail on the head.


Building to flip is building to flop


Sort of a no brainer. But with everyone and their mom starting their own thing these days, many focus on the sale, not building the business. Users and revenue are two different things. Remember people, crazy valuations on businesses in the red was how we got the last tech bubble (which burst).


Let your customers outgrow you


This one really made me think. 37 Signals mentions large clients of theirs who wanted the software to grow alongside their business. Yet customizing your product to large clients (usually meaning a select few) can be dangerous long-term. What happens when those clients eventually leave? You’re stuck with a product fitting no one. It’s okay to let your customers outgrow you, more are waiting in line.


Make something at-home good


Another great line. It refers to those products that you want so badly in the store (typically Best Buy for me) and you open them up at home only to find out the product isn’t as great as you’d hoped, usually resulting in a return. Make something that will be as great at home as it is in the store if not better. Even if that means sacrificing some of the shine on the shelf.


Don’t outspend, out-teach


Advertising and marketing is an arms race, typically reserved for the behemoths of corporate America. Trying to keep up will leave your small business in the dust, yet customers love to learn more than they love being sold on something. The competitive advantage for every small business or startup is their capacity to teach, a better attention grabber than any marketing campaign, and typically free.


Press releases are spam


Hopefully I don’t piss off any PR friends with this one. But the point is, reaching out to tons of journalists and media outlets for the first time with borderline random press releases is spam. It’s expensive, impersonal, and many times a waste. Find better methods of outreach. Create personal relationships with those outlets or influencers that you really want to share your story. It will make a huge difference.


Everything is marketing, marketing is not a department


A good friend of mine, and head of marketing at a successful retail brand, says this all the time. Every service delivery, product, communication, and advertisement is marketing. Your entire team is responsible for marketing, and everything you do as a company or startup represents your brand. It’s not just a department like some business functions, it’s the culmination of everything you do as a business.​


Hire managers of one


This is especially important for small teams. Hire the people that can best manage themselves and work autonomously. Most importantly, hire people who get stuff done. In my public accounting days we had to track and bill our hours, and I had a manager who always joked he only wanted to see us using two time codes: “Making shit happen” and “Getting shit done.” Small businesses and startups can’t afford anything less.


Inspiration is perishable


A line so obvious that it’s almost always disregarded. Inspiration comes in spurts. When it comes, take advantage. Got an amazing idea and want to see where it takes you? Act now, because that energy will only last hours, days, or weeks. It doesn’t mean drop more important things for a wild goose chase, but don’t sell yourself short when the moments of inspiration roll in.

  • http://www.jrdeputyaccountant.com Jr Deputy Accountant

    Stupid press releases are the bane of my existence.

    I remind you I write about accounting. But here’s some of the better ones I’ve gotten lately:

    TODAY: Oneida Nation & UN to Discuss R-Word Mascot (note “Redskins” is now the “R-Word”)

    Wiztivi Interactive Tablet Application available in the Frog by Wyplay Marketplace (huh?! — oh and I got about 20 of these from the same hack about the same stupid app within two days)

    WESA Jan Market – CoFi Debuts New Western Line

    Safe to say I did not write about any of these important items.