Read: Cover to cover
Category: Small Business, Entrepreneurial
Twitter Review: A take-no-prisoners approach to running a business in the 21 century
A friend and I were talking about books over a delicious hot cup of coffee at the neighborhood coffee shop – no Starbucks for us. I asked him what his favorite book for small biz was and he didn’t hesitate, didn’t waffle, didn’t look toward the ceiling – nope. He said it right away. Rework. And then he smiled and said, “I just love that book. It’s my bible.” Now, I’m going to backtrack a little (no I’m not going to talk about religion) and say that I find two approaches to business – one is hip and the other is hip replacement. Chris Brogan – hip. Donald Trump -hip replacement. Guy Kawasaki – hip. Jack Welch – hip replacement. Jason and David, co-founders of the remarkably successful 37 Signals (and if you don’t know the company, watch those stairs) definitely fall into the hip category. They crush the old knee joint of business methodology, replacing it with a new, shiny, technologically advanced titanium implant. Run faster, jump higher, feel better. They write like they have a stop watch tied to their ass. Each thought comes with a hastily rendered illustration and then a page or two on expanding the idea. Business growth? Overrated. Mission statement? Yawn. Press releases? Spam. Advertising? For suckers. They reject growth, meetings, budgets, boards, salespeople and almost everything else in the “real world.” But you can’t argue with their success. In 1999 they started out as a three-person Web-design/consulting firm. Unhappy with the project management software available, they created their own and named the company 37 Signals. Five years later, they have generated millions of dollars in profit a year and continue to make boatloads of money to this day, with a very small staff. In Rework, they take the model home of business and in their words, “take it down to the studs,” rebuilding in a new way. This isn’t an autobiography (Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh, Zappos or the Method Method by Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry) – this is an advice book. Easy to read, outrageous, funny and double espressoed, these two absolutely make you believe even if you know nothing about business (or everything), you can build your dream if you just do it.
Let me just say, my knees ache a little in the morning, so I know what the old boys say and do in business. And it served us well. But so did coupons in the mail (replaced by Groupon) and the good old boys network (replaced by indie.bz, LinkedIn). Time to put the old dogs down. Humanely, of course. But down nevertheless. I like their advice. I think it democratizes business – who can get in, who can succeed, what you have to do to succeed. They say nonsense to the old standard practices and I agree. I want to put in a caveat here – I think their advice is for people who don’t anguish over keeping their desk clean, order their closets by color or arrange their spices alphabetically.