Failing is overrated. If you succeeded before, chances are you’ll succeed again.
Planning is guessing. Business plans only hope to predict the future, but rarely do.
On growing: “Do we look at Harvard or Oxford and say, “If they’d only expand and branch out and hire thousands of more professors and go global and open other campuses all over the world … then they’d be great schools.” The key is finding that happy area, we are not too big not too small, just the right size.
Workaholism is overrated as well. The better worker is already home because they found a faster and more efficient way of getting things done.
The term entrepreneur is overused. If you want to start a business, just do it.
Put your dent in the universe. Small teams can have a big effect.
Scratch your own itch. Like Vic Firth who made his own drumsticks. Or James Dyson who made his own a vacuum cleaner.
Start making something. Ideas can’t be sold, so go as Stanley Kubrick said, “pick up the camera and go make a film of any kind at all.”
Don’t use the excuse that you don’t have any time. Squeeze out a couple more hours from your week.
Draw a line in the sand. Stand up for what you believe in, and have some backbone behind it. People are drawn to leaders that way.
Standing for something isn’t just about writing it down. It’s about believing in it and living it.
If you’re running a service-based business, avoid taking on funding. Bootstrap it all the way.
Ask yourself if you need all the traditional business infrastructure – do you really need an IT department or human resources? Try doing it with less.
On start-ups: “A business without a path to profit isn’t a business, it’s a hobby.”
Building to flip is building to flop. You don’t need an exit strategy, you need a commitment strategy.
Keep your mass low. Avoid excess mass, so that you can pivot it, change your mind, or alter your marketing message.
Embrace constraints and limitations. See what you can create with less.
“You’re better off with a kick-ass half than a half-assed whole.” “Getting to great starts by cutting out stuff that’s merely good.”
Start at the epicenter. Figure out what you have to do and focus on that.
Ignore the details early on. Focus on what matters, then the details that need attention will come to light.
Decisions are progress: “When you get in that flow of making decision after decision, you build momentum and boost morale” instead of postponing decisions, ask yourself what can you easily do now that is good enough.
Be a curator. Constantly look for things to take off the walls, rather than put on. Throw less at the problem. Like Gordon Ramsay, trim down the menu offerings and then polish what’s left. Don’t throw more money or bodies at the problem, that only makes it worse.
Build your business around things that are the same today and won’t change 10 years from now. Not what’s fashionable.
The tone is in the fingers. People obsess over equipment, so they don’t have to put the work in.
Sell your by-products. The writers of this Rework turned their first book from a blog article into a PDF, and then into a paperback. It earned them $1 million. Henry Ford’s wood byproducts from producing the model T ended up being Kingsford charcoal.
Launch now. Implement a deadline, so that you do what matters most. Like Crate & Barrel, turnover some literal crate and barrel’s and display your products. This does not mean that you sacrifice quality, it just means that businesses should best be done in iterations.
Get real. Start making things, rather than formulating documents.
Reasons to stop doing things. Ask yourself probing questions, like “why are you doing this?”
The reason people are not productive at work is interruptions. You get your best work done early in the morning or late at night when there’s no one bothering you. Focus on alone time, or minimal interruption time like using email rather than phone calls or texts.
Meetings are toxic. They are a waste of time and when you invite 10 people to a meeting you’re losing not one hour but 10 hours.
When good enough gets the job done, go for it.
Get quick wins. It establishes momentum, motivation killing rut.
Don’t be a hero. If you’ve been working on a project for too long, bring someone else in for their feedback, or just quit. That doesn’t mean failure.
Go to sleep. Get 7 to 8 hours.
We are terrible at estimating the time it takes to complete a task, so break it down into multiple tasks and then estimate. You’ll probably still be wrong, but you’ll be more accurate.
Long lists don’t get done. They start collecting dust. So make smaller to do lists. Or break the bigger task down into multiple tasks.
Big decisions are intimidating and halt progress. Make tiny decisions so that it spurs motivation and morale.
Don’t be a copycat. Be influenced but don’t steal.
Decommoditize the product. The way to stop copycats is to inject yourself into the equation. Scale the unscalable like Zappos.
Pick a fight with your competitor like what Dunkin Donuts did to Starbucks.
Instead of one-upping, try one-downing. Simplify your product or service.
You shouldn’t care what your competition is doing anyway.
There’s no good end to the Cold War arms race mentality. You are not going to out-Amazon Amazon.
Get used to saying no. ING bank (at the time the fastest growing bank) has a strict book of services and products, and when their customers ask for more they say “no.”
Let your customers outgrow you.“We’d rather our customers grow out of our products eventually than never be able to grow into them in the first place.”
Don’t confuse enthusiasm with priority. We all have hot new ideas that we want to pursue, but let them linger for a few days and then revisit them.
Be “at-home good” and not all sizzle. Let your customers be impressed with your product when they get home, not just in the store.
Welcome insecurity, because no one will be watching the early days of your business as it fails and injures trials and tribulations.
Build an audience that listens. That way when you have something to say, people listen or buy what you’re selling.
Out-teach your competition. Write an e-book. Self-publish.
Emulate chefs. Mario Batali writes a cookbook every year, but he never worries that the next Mario Batali will read his book. You can give away your secrets, but don’t worry about people taking your business. The best chefs share everything they know, they don’t keep it a secret.
Take people behind the scenes and show them how the sausage is made.
No one likes plastic flowers. This is the essence behind the Japanese concept wabi-sabi, which embraces the unshiny objects. Leave the poetry intact, and don’t sterilize.
Press releases are spam. Instead, call someone.
Focus on niche media rather than big media. You’re likely to get picked up by a larger publication if you go small anyway.
Marketing is not a department, it is in every single touch point you have throughout your process.
There’s no such thing as an overnight success. Behind that mystery is years or decades of hard work.
DIY – do it yourself first, so that you can write a good job description, decide whether you should hire a part-time person to do the job or outsource it. You’ll be a much better manager for it.
Hire when it hurts. When the quality level dips, that’s when you need someone.
Pass on great people. There is no need to hire great talent if you have nothing for them to do.
Avoid the “strangers at a cocktail party” dilemma. Get a team of intimate “old friends” who aren’t afraid to test the limits and ask questions.
Resumes are ridiculous. Anyone can churn out a resume. Check for good cover letters instead that have a personalized hook.
Experience is misleading. That can mean 10 years on the job but only a handful of projects. While a person with one year experience means they have been working multiple projects every week.
GPAs are overrated. Not only that but formal education can actually hurt your business acumen. Take writing for example – you have to unlearn the formal writing that you learn in school. There are more University of Wisconsin CEOs then there are Harvard or Ivy League CEOs.
Delegators are dead weight. We need people that work. Small teams need everyone to work.
Hire managers of one. These are the self-motivated, determined employees. They come up with their own goals and execute them.
If you’re deciding who to hire, defer to the best writer. Writing is making a comeback and it is the currency for good ideas.
Hiring from overseas is feasible. Make sure you have a couple hours of overlap in regards to time zone, but that’s it. Geography doesn’t matter anymore. The best employees are everywhere.
Test drive employees. Put them through real world environment before hiring.
Own your bad news. If you screw up, make sure your apology comes quickly from the top.
Respond to queries and customer service requests very quickly.
How to say I’m Sorry: “A good apology accepts responsibility. It has no conditional ‘if’ phrase attached.”
Put everyone on the front lines.
Take a deep breath. People are creatures of habit so don’t take it personally when you rock your boat and they react.
You don’t create a culture. It happens. “Culture is the by-product of consistent behavior.”
Decisions are temporary. It’s not a problem until it’s a real problem.
Rockstar environments develop out of trust, autonomy, and responsibility.
When everything constantly needs approval, you create a culture of nonthinkers. You create a boss-versus-worker relationship that screams, “I don’t trust you.” If people want to occasionally browse Facebook or YouTube, let them.
Send people home at five. People have lives. “As the saying goes, “If you want something done, ask the busiest person you know.” You want busy people.
Don’t forget the policy just because someone did something wrong once. Don’t scare on the first cut.
Avoid legalese and business speak. Talk like you could talk in public, even in email. Avoid the disclaimer at the end of each email.
Avoid four letter words like “need, must, can’t, easy, just, only, and fast.”
ASAP is poison because it artificially hastens work.
Inspiration has an expiration date like milk or fruit. “If you want to do something, you’ve got to do it now. You can’t put it on a shelf and wait two months to get around to it. You can’t just say you’ll do it later. Later, you won’t be pumped up about it anymore.”