The first session that I sat on at the 2010 was a book review, Rework by 37 Signals Jason Fried. Rework is a book about small business. Jason said the goal from business is to build a company that’s sustainable, profitable and that you enjoy. The book is short and to the point.
I really like Jason’s point about planning. His point on “planning” is that its guessing. Strategic planning should be strategic guessing, financial planning should be financial guessing, etc.
Jason also wasn’t fond of the word “entrepreneur” and startups. He thinks that term scares more people away from business than encourage it. For startups, the principles of business doesn’t always work. You need money to be successful!
Having a good point of view is extremely important for a company. Each company should stand for something and have a voice. This helps keep decisions simple.
One point that really drove home was to have a core competency for your business. A good example was the hot dog stand. People aren’t going to come to your stand, they are going to come to your hot dogs!
I also like how Jason talked about selling your by-products. Growing up and working at my Uncle’s meat packing plant, they sold every part of the animal. Every part! For the interactive world, by products could be knowledge (key learnings) or technology frameworks.
I didn’t like what Jason said about new customers vrs old customers. His point was that customers can out grow you, and instead of adding new features, it is easier to let them go. His analogy was that there will always be more freshman than seniors in college. The golden rule in business is that its more profitable to keep existing old customers than soliciting new.
Although I haven’t read the book yet, I am going to the store here at SXSW to pick it up for the flight home. Jason ended with a great quote about apologies. He said that when you spill coffee on someone, you are sincerely sorry. You don’t say “I apologize for any inconvenience that this caused you”! The key to a great company is believing in your apologies.