SxSWi Day one: @ 37 Signals session [rules for your business]

Sitting in the 37 signals presentation. They’re going to tell us about the lessons they’ve learned over 10 years being in business.
I’d guesstimate about 1000 – 3000+ people in the auditorium.

Here’s what they say …

– Don’t worry about the unknown:
Point here being, don’t worry about trying to build something that takes care of every single scenario. Do what works now and change later. Optimize for now

– Red Flags:
I didn’t know that half the 37 signals team was remote … apparently 5 of them are based out of Chicago and 5 are other places
They talk about the things we say that can be detrimental to the team … simplified

Only: It’ll only take a few hours right?
Can’t: We can’t launch without it
Need: We really need it.
Easy: Hey Sam can you take care of this by Friday … it should be easy right?
Fast: Can you take care of this real fast.

– Be successful and make money by helping others be successful and make money

– Target nonconsumers and nonconsumptions
A nonconsumer is someone who has a problem but the solutions for the problem basically suck.
This is an opening for you as an entrepreneur to go in and solve their problem.
The upside is that the entrenched players who suck at solving this problem won’t try to fight you on it, you fly under the radar … picking up loose change.

– Question your work regularly
Why are we doing this?
What problem are we solving?
Is this actually useful?
Is there an easier way?

– Fix your copy
The “internets” is inundated with crappy copy writing … that directly affects the way your user views your app.
Consider a rewrite of the site first, before a redesign.

– Err on the side of simple 
Start with the easy way first. Use craigslist before Monster. Rewrite just that module, not the entire app.
The longer you sit on something, the less likely you are to launch it.

 – Invest in what doesn’t change
What works today and will work ten years from now.
Google invests in speed and better search results. Amazon invests in fast shipping.
For 37 signals, its investing in simple software. What is it for you?

–  Share
Share what you know.  That way you become an expert and people come to you.
(I had a problem with this one … and think its only true to a certain extent)

 – Minimize interruptions (they kill productivity)
Joel Spolsky has talked about this before in one of his posts. But being close to someone gives people the tendency to interrupt each other.
“Hey … check this out?”, “Lets have a quick meeting”
This wastes time and kills productivity … people need blocks of time to work through.
Think of more passive communication like IM or instituting “no-talk” blocks of time

 – Roadmaps send you in the wrong direction
They lock you into a path.
“Its OK to think about the future, just don’t write it down”

– Be clear in crisis
People just want to know what is going on. So be open, honest, public and responsive.

– Make tiny decisions
Achievements build momentum. When you make small decisions, you can’t make big mistakes.

– Make it matter
Be passionate about what you do.
Respect your time  … don’t waste it on stuff that doesn’t matter.