In Getting Real, Jason Fried shares his insights about creating successful businesses by cutting out unnecessary details and getting straight into what's important.
Key Takeaways from A Return to Love
Takeaway #1. Build your business to speak to the demographic you know best.
Instead of trying to mimic successful companies, do the opposite and under-do your competitors. The better option is to do less. By providing fewer features, your company will sell a product with quality rather than quantity and position itself as the choice for simplicity. Create a product you personally would want, because the people who are like you likely have problems similar to your own. It’s essential to avoid seeking external funding when building a product, otherwise, you will be compromising and answering the demands of investors.
Takeaway #2. Keeping a small and agile team is essential to launching a new, successful product.
Hiring a small team of three people will allow you to do the work and be agile in your projects. For startups, this strategy should involve one person who has responsibility for core technology and another managing business development issues while they're also taking care of financials; so there's no need to go overboard with staff depth at first because it could hurt future growth.
Takeaway #3: Set your priorities early
When you're done developing your product, take the time to prioritize tasks before releasing it. Answer why your future product is needed and what makes our product different from competitors so that users will want it too. During the early stages of development don't obsess over minor details - focus on major issues because they lead to petty arguments which delay progression overall.
Takeaway #4 Maximize time for productive work with a strong organizational structure.
When setting up a new business, it is important to be efficient and optimize your time. In order to be at your most productive state, you should work in a quiet environment where not many distractions are present. You should do nothing but work during the half of your day when you are in a distraction-free space. Meetings are distracting and inefficient because they focus on abstract ideas rather than concrete problems. The time put into a meeting should be limited to 30 minutes max, and the number of people attending should be as few as possible. Communication is extremely important and should be shared among all departments to prevent miscommunication. Creating an integrated team of people with different areas of expertise will foster healthy dialogue.
Takeaway #5: Delaying early hiring can be a wise move.
When you start off with a small crew, you want to assemble a group of broadly talented individuals. Specialization renders many experts incapable of performing tasks outside their focus area. A valuable team member is someone with a specialty, but also able to work on other issues. New employees are often more enthusiastic than experts. There are many benefits to choosing someone from a large, impersonal corporate environment. But Hiring people too early can lead to problems with communication and personality conflicts. If you can, find another way to get the job done without hiring new team members.
Takeaway #6. Focus on the essential features and say no to the rest.
You should have discipline when choosing features for your product. It is not necessary to have a fully-developed product before launching. Launching a lean version will result in a simple and smart product that can be improved later, with more features added over time. Choose your product features wisely and eliminate extraneous options to ensure you are offering the most important aspects. This means you should deny requests for features that don't matter, even if they're requested by users.
Takeaway #7. The product interface is one of the most important parts of the product.
First impressions are important. Your product’s interface should be intuitive without being overly complicated so that users can easily find what they're looking for, while still providing enough information about the product or website's features if necessary.
Be minimal with your design. The more options you give the user the more those preferences will only slow down the development time with the minimal benefit of added functionality. Everyone has different ideas about what they want from an application so many choices just end up being confusing instead of helpful.
Takeaway ##8: Make it inexpensive and hassle-free.
Make signing up for your website as easy and painless as possible. Your goal is to get someone hooked on your product without them even realizing it. Give people who visit your page an opportunity that will allow them to test-driving what you're offering before they pay. This will also help prevent those headaches where customers regretfully sign long-term contracts. Offering free samples is a great way to get new customers. Blogging about your product and linking it with other products will elevate your expert status and will help you promote future products as well.
Getting Real Chapters
Chapter 1: What is Getting Real?
Chapter 2: About 37 signals
Chapter 3: Caveats, disclaimers, and other preemptive strikes
Chapter 4: Build Less
Chapter 5: What's Your Problem?
Chapter 6: Fund Yourself
Chapter 7: Fix Time and Budget, Flex Scope
Chapter 8: Have and Enemy
Chapter 9: It Shouldn't be a Chore
Chapter 10: Less Mass
Chapter 11: Lower Your Cost of Change
Chapter 12: The Three Musketeers
Chapter 13: Embrace Constraints
Chapter 14: Be Yourself
Chapter 15: What's the Big Idea
Chapter 16: Ignore Details Early On
Chapter 17: It's a Problem When It's Problem
Chapter 18: Hire the Right Customers
Chapter 19: Scale Later
Chapter 20: Make Opinionated Software
Chapter 21: Half, Not Half-Assed
Chapter 22: It just Dosen't Matter
Chapter 23: Start With No
Chapter 24: Hidden Costs
Chapter 25: Can You Handle It?
Chapter 26: Human Solutions
Chapter 27: Forget Feature Requests
Chapter 28: Hold the Mayo
Chapter 29: Race to Running Software
Chapter 30: Rinse and Repeat
Chapter 31: From Idea to Implementation
Chapter 32: Avoid Preferences
Chapter 33: "Done!"
Chapter 34: Test in the Wild
Chapter 35: Shrink Your Time
Chapter 36: Unity
Chapter 37: Alone Time
Chapter 38: Meetings Are Toxic
Chapter 39: Seek and Celebrate Small Victories
Chapter 40: Hire Less and Hire Later
Chapter 41: Kick the Tires
Chapter 42: Actions, Not Words
Chapter 43: Get Well Rounded Individuals
Chapter 44: You Can't Fake Enthusiasm
Chapter 45: Wordsmiths
Chapter 46: Interface First
Chapter 47: Epicenter Design
Chapter 48: Three State Solution
Chapter 49: The Blank Slate
Chapter 50: Get Defensive
Chapter 51: Context Over Consistency
Chapter 52: Copywriting is Interface Design
Chapter 53: One Interface
Chapter 54: Less Software
Chapter 55: Optimize for Happiness
Chapter 56: Code Speaks
Chapter 57: Manage Debt
Chapter 58: Open Doors
Chapter 59: There's Nothing Functional about a Functional Spec
Chapter 60: Don't Do Dead Documents
Chapter 61: Tell Me A Quick Story
Chapter 62: Use Real Words
Chapter 63: Personify Your Product
Chapter 64: Free Samples
Chapter 65: Easy On, Easy Off
Chapter 66: Silly Rabbit, Tricks are for Kids
Chapter 67: A Softer Bullet
Chapter 68: Hollywood Launch
Chapter 69: A Poweful Promo Site
Chapter 70: Ride the Blog Wave
Chapter 71: Solicit Early
Chapter 72: Promote Through Education
Chapter 73: Feature Food
Chapter 74: Track Your Logs
Chapter 75: Feel The Pain
Chapter 76: Zero Training
Chapter 77: Answer Quick
Chapter 78: Tough Love
Chapter 79: In Fine Forum
Chapter 80: Publicize Your Scrwups
Chapter 81: One Month Tuneup
Chapter 82: Keep the Posts Coming
Chapter 83: Better, Not Beta
Chapter 84: All Bugs Are Not Created Equal
Chapter 85: Ride Out the Storm
Chapter 86: Keep Up With the Joneses
Chapter 87: Beware the Bloat Monster
Chapter 88: Go With the Flow
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Editor and Founder
Tal Gur is a location independent entrepreneur, author, and impact investor. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His most recent book and bestseller, The Art of Fully Living - 1 Man, 10 Years, 100 Life Goals Around the World, has set the stage for his new mission: elevating society to its abundance potential.