Today I would like to give a short review of another great book on entrepreneurship: 37Signal’s ReWork. This book is not your average entrepreneurial guide, it’s main focus is productivity. It’s about doing things and running a business in the 21st century. Below I’ve posted several quotes from the book, some I will discuss briefly, others just made me think and I hope they will do the same for you. I also really enjoyed this post on the book on Brazilian Coffee.

On making mistakes

When you make tiny decisions, you can’t make big mistakes. These small decisions mean you can afford to change. There’s no big penalty if you mess up. You just fix it.

Making tiny decisions doesn’t mean you can’t make big plans or think big ideas. It just means you believe the best way to achieve those big things is one tiny decision at a time.

This point is additional to my point in this post. Keep the road you’re walking on a good road to walk on. Try to make as much short-term rewards as possible on your long-term goals. In the end this will keep you both motivated and on track.

On planning

Unless you’re a fortune-teller, long-term business planning is a fantasy. When you turn guesses into plans, you enter a danger zone. Plans let the past drive the future.

Keep in mind why you’re doing what you’re doing and who you’re doing it for. Planning is flexible, purpose not so much.

On growing

Do we look at Harvard or Oxford and say, “if they’d only expand and branch out and hire thousands more professors and go global and open other campuses all over the world… then they’d be great school.” Of course not. That’s not how we measure the value of these institutions. So why is it the way we measure businesses?

I disucessed this point in my previous post on Economies of small.

On product design

You can turn a bunch of great ideas into a crappy product really fast by trying to do them all at once. Cut your ambition in half. You’re better off with a kick-ass half than a half-assed whole.

Don’t try to materialize every single idea you’ve got as fast as possible. A good idea now will still be a good idea in 3 years. You should also keep asking yourself if what you’re doing is what you have to be doing. Is everything you do aligned with the bigger idea behind the company?

Nobody likes plastic flowers. Pare down to the essence, but don’t remove the poetry.

On productivity

When good enough gets the job done, go for it. You can usually turn good enough into great later.

Ship, show the world, get feedback, be first.

On competition

If you’re a copycat, you can never keep up. You’re always in a passive position. You never lead; you always follow. Be influenced, but don’t steal.

Keep the game, change the rules.

On open-source

No one’s going to buy his cookbook, open a restaurant next door, and put him out of business. It just doesn’t work like that. Yet this is what many in the business world think will happen if their competitors learn how they do things. Get over it.

Instead of trying to outspend, outsell, or outsponsor competitors, try to out-teach them. Teaching probably isn’t something your competitors are even thinking about. Open up your process, invite people to give their feedback, let them take home what they can use and see how they implement it.

On customers

All companies have customers. Lucky companies have fans. But the most fortunate companies have audiences. An audience can be your secret weapon. When you build an audience, you don’t have to buy people’s attention – they give it to you. This is a huge advantage.

Use blogs, youtube, facebook, twitter… to keep your audience interested. It was never easier to get in touch with people, use it.

On damage control

When something goes wrong, someone is going to tell the story. You’ll be better off if it’s you.

Don’t cover up, don’t talk your way out of it, admit you were wrong. When you’re communicating about something that went wrong, connect human-to-human. Don’t use big words, don’t use “we” when you can say “I” and never say you’re sorry for the inconvenience. An inconvenience is a long line in the grocery store, if someone contacts your customer service, it’s more than an inconvenience for them.

And last but not least: On purpose

If you’re going to do something, do something that matters.


About leyssensjan

Jan Leyssens is a designer and entrepreneur who strongly believes you can’t turn sustainability into a positive story if your main focus is on negative impact. When designing, he is always looking for the overlap between activism and entrepreneurship, technology and community. His main expertise lies in strategic business model development, Circular Economy, the makermovement, and social innovation. With a background in Industrial Design, Jan quickly shifted his focus towards business design and using the design process in strategic management. Jan is the father of two kids and founder & CEO of Regenerative Design, co-founder of Full Circle, ImpactBoost, and the Circular Design map, podcaster, storyteller, and changemaker.


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