Top 10 Takeaways After Reading ‘ReWork’ by Basecamp

I am really fond of the Basecamp story (formerly 37 Signals stories), I recently had the privilege of meeting one of their founders, Jason Fried, at the Basecamp HQ in Chicago.

Why is the Basecamp story so interesting to me?

Well, they are a bootstrap business, something I am really fond of, they have literally built their business from the ground up. As a technology company, providing Software as a Service to their clients, this is hard work and admirable. Often competing with Silicon Valley ‘geared up’ companies who have endless pots of cash.

I often read business books…but I will often get bored and flitter between several ‘on the go’. Maybe it’s me, or maybe, it’s that generally I find business/ leadership books to waffle on about things with no true value..

‘ReWork’ was different. The structure of the book is probably one of the best things for me, short nuggets of useful ‘real life’ business advice with beautifully illustrated drawings. As a result, I couldn’t put the book down.

Now I can understand why Seth Godin said ‘Ignore this book at your own peril.’

So, after reading the book, here are my top 10 takeaways…

  1. Focus on what won’t change — think about it, if you do this in your business, you are likely to last longer. There’s often a cool trend that everyone wants to follow, but, think about the basics again. For example, affordable prices, great customer offerings and faster delivery.
  2. Emulate Chefs — In marketing, you should’t be ramming product offerings down your customers throats, instead, educate them about how they can get better value in their jobs and using your product. Much like Chefs do with their recipes, they teach you..
  3. Let your customers outgrow you — Sometimes your customer will become bigger than you, rather than adding to the feature list for them alone, think about letting them go…this is normal. If you don’t, you are in danger of ruining your relationships with your other customers. You need to remain strong here in your judgement.
  4. Don’t be a hero — In business, you can find yourself working on a project you thought would take less time than it actually did, this is pretty normal. Sometimes though, we have a sense of pride to continue, this is the sunk cost factor and we saw this with the launch of the Concorde where they saw no way back. Rather than continuing, it’s better to stop and walk away.
  5. Meetings are toxic — If you haven’t already, you should think about the cost of meetings to your business. You may find yourself in meeting with no agenda, lot’s of people and a lack of clarity of why people are there. If this is the case, challenge the organiser. When you setup a meeting, they should be ran to a timer, have a agenda and focused on a specific business issue.
  6. Interruption is the enemy of productivity — If you’re working long weekends, and ‘burning the midnight oil’ as the book puts it, you need to think long and hard about if you are working smart. When you are at work, you need to work. if you’re not getting the work done in the hours, you need to think about how interruptions might be causing this.
  7. Throw less at the problem — Often in business, the book comments that we tend to throw more at a business issue, people, money etc etc.. Instead, think about how you do more with less, this will lead to greater efficiency and a sense of focus. For example, Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmare’s TV programme would turn up at different restaurants, instead of adding more to the more than complex menus, he would cut them down significantly. This led to less complications in the delivery process and a more efficient/ profitable restaurant. Almost a ‘back to basics’ approach.
  8. Culture is the by-product of consistent behaviour — Culture is not long convoluted text outlining why the business exists and what it’s raison d’être is… ReWork explains this is more to do with behaviours, for example, if you encourage sharing, people will share, if you reward good behaviour, people will strive for this and so on. Culture is action, not words.
  9. Speed changes everything — ReWork criticises that the average hold time when calling a customer service team is 16 minutes! Getting back to people quickly is the most important thing you must do for your customers.
  10. Focus on you, instead of they — This is associated with looking at what your competitors are doing, forget it. It’s useful to have a basic understanding of their value proposition, but…really you need to focus on your own game. If not, you are at risk of having some strange obsession about following your competition, this can take over and it’s a distraction. Focusing on your own game will lead to more clarity and better ideas. When you think about the competition, and they ‘could’ even copy you, think about how you can be part of that core offering, that’s something they can’t replicate.