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Rework is by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hanson. Jason and David are two of the founders of the very successful 37signals company. 37signals’ products are now used by over 3 million people all around the world.

Rework is the 7th book in our series of reading our top 10 must read entrepreneur ebooks and it’s Jason and David’s tips on how to build a successful intentionally small company.

What’s different about Jason and David’s Rework from other startup books is that their ideas are contrary to most of the traditional advice. It’s based on their experience of building a successful company that rejects growth, meetings, budgets, boards of directors, advertising, and salespeople.

Rework is a great book for people who dream of starting their own business, as well as those who already have a successful business up and running, and are looking for a few new ideas to give them that edge.

So Rework is perfect for those of us who want to do something that they love and get paid for it. Today anyone can start or run a business on the side. Rework is a great starting point if you’re looking for practical advice or tips from people that have been there and done it. As it says on the book’s cover, “Change the way you work forever”.

Our 7 key points to take away from Rework
Planning as guessing. Jason and David are anti planning as it lets the past drive the future. Let’s face it, who has an accurate crystal ball into the future. Their approach is to focus on short term plans about what to achieve this week or next week. Jason and David advocate that the drawback with planning way into the future is that it is based on assumptions, guesses or limited information. The logic being that you have the most information when you are doing something not before you’ve done it. I love the idea of starting to refer to business plans as business guesses, financial plans as financial guesses, so that you can now stop worrying about them as much. Classic.
Have a point of view. Great businesses have a point of view not just a product or a service. You need to know what you stand for and to show the world. When you stand for something it makes decisions that much more obvious. You can also let people see behind the curtain. Show them the sweat and effort that goes into something. It will allow people to develop a greater understanding and appreciation for what you do. Srini from blogcastFM successfully argues the benefits of originality in his ebook The Small Army Strategy. You can also be anti something, for example Apple used to regularly to take jabs at Microsoft. Being anti something is a great way to differentiate yourself and to attract followers.
You’re better off with a kick ass half than a half assed whole. I love this phrase as it’s so succint. Basically you’re better to focus on doing something well rather than try to do everything and to do it badly. Lots of things get better as they get shorter. Writers, film directors, musicians all edit their work for this reason.
You can’t make just one thing. Everything has an opportunity for a by-product. Jason and David’s first book Getting Real book is their by-product which has made 37signals more than $2 million in sales and business leads. This is a great way to think of monetizing your work, how many by-product ideas can you think of for what you do?
Interruption is the enemy of productivity. Minimise meetings. Long stretches of “alone time” with no interruptions is when you are most productive.
Out teach. Teaching is something that individuals can easily do to form a strong bond with people. Help them to help themselves. Emulate chefs. They cook, and write cookery books. So can you think of what your “recipes” might be?
Don’t be afraid to give a little away for free. Jason and David talk about emulating drug dealers. Drug dealers being very astute entrepreneurs who are prepared to give customers a small free taste to make them come back to purchase. Not sure about the drug dealer metaphor, however I agree that the freemium strategy is sound for many.

In Rework, Jason and David share their ideas and tips behind building a successful business in a fresh and easy to understand way that aligns with Eric Ries’ Lean Methodology. I like the use of clever graphics to highlight each point. Some of the graphics made me chuckle out aloud when reading it in public, which was a bit embarrassing, so be warned. One of the unique things I like about Jason and David’s book is the constant reassurance that small is good. Bigger is not necessarily better. Being small means you are more nimble, free from bureaucracy, and can more easily innovate. So embrace being small.

If you haven’t read Rework yet, you should grab a copy today. It’s a short, entertaining, and an easy read that might just be one of the best investments you can make for less than $20.

There are a load more great ideas and tips from other successful entrepreneurs in the other 9 ebooks on our list of top 10 ebooks on entrepreneurs and startups.

We’re compiling our list of the next 10 entrepreneur ebooks to read for early 2014, so please let us know your suggestions in the comments below.

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About the author

Geoff Austin

I talk and write a lot. Some of it about ecommerce, selling online, startups, SEO, digital marketing.

Currently, head of analytics for an automotive business in Sydney, facilitating a culture of data-driven decisions. Delivering data-based insights and intelligence.

Chauffeur to twin daughters and a pizza chef master.

One comment

  1. Geoff

    A quick update for you if you’re interested in Rework and 37signals. After 15 years in business launching various products including Basecamp and open sourcing Ruby on Rails. 37Signals have now decided to focus on one product. Basecamp. Basecamp has over 15million people with an account, and so 37signals will now be called Basecamp. They’ll continue the blog Signal vs Noise, and writing books. Another online publication is expected later this year called The Distance. Which we’ll look forward to reading and possibly reviewing for you.

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