Ignore the real world
“That would never work in the real world.” You hear it all the time when you tell people about a fresh idea.
This real world sounds like an awfully depressing place to live. It's a place where new ideas, unfamiliar approaches, and foreign concepts always lose. The only things that win are what people already know and do, even if those things are flawed and inefficient.
Scratch the surface and you'll find these “real world” inhabitants are filled with pessimism and despair. They expect fresh concepts to fail. They assume society isn't ready for or capable of change.
Even worse, they want to drag others down into their tomb. If you're hopeful and ambitious, they'll try to convince you your ideas are impossible. They'll say you're wasting your time.
Don't believe them. That world may be real for them, but it doesn't mean you have to live in it.
The real world isn't a place, it's an excuse. It's a justification for not trying. It has nothing to do with you.
Focus on what won't change
A lot of companies focus on the next big thing. They latch on to what's hot and new. They follow the latest trends and technology.
That's a fool's path. You start focusing on fashion instead of substance. You start paying attention to things that are constantly changing instead of things that last.
The core of your business should be built around things that won't change. Things that people are going to want today and ten years from now. Those are the things you should invest in.
For 37signals, things like speed, simplicity, ease of use, and clarity are our focus. Those are timeless desires. People aren't going to wake up in ten years and say, “Man, I wish software was harder to use.” They won't say, “I wish this application was slower.”
Tone is in your fingers
人们对工具的热情远大于依靠工具所做的事情本身——设计师运用海量的有趣字体和华丽的 Photoshop 滤镜而什么都没表达出来，业余摄影师对传统胶片与数字技术无休止地争论而忽略怎样拍出好的作品。
It's tempting for people to obsess over tools instead of what they're going to do with those tools. You know the type: Designers who use an avalanche of funky typefaces and fancy Photoshop filters but don't have anything to say. Amateur photographers who want to debate film versus digital endlessly instead of focusing on what actually makes a photograph great.
Many amateur golfers think they need expensive clubs. But it's the swing that matters, not the club. Give Tiger Woods a set of cheap clubs and he'll still destroy you.
People use equipment as a crutch. They don't want to put in the hours on the driving range so they spend a ton in the pro shop. They're looking for a shortcut. But you just don't need the best gear in the world to be good. And you definitely don't need it to get started.
In business, too many people obsess over tools, software tricks, scaling issues, fancy office space, lavish furniture, and other frivolities instead of what really matters. And what really matters is how to actually get customers and make money.
Use whatever you've got already or can afford cheaply. Then go. It's not the gear that matters. It's playing what you've got as well as you can. Your tone is in your fingers.
Interruption is the enemy of productivity
You can set up a rule at work that half the day is set aside for alone time. Decree that from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., people can't talk to each other (except during lunch). Or make the first or last half of the day your alone-time period. Or instead of casual Fridays, try no-talk Thursdays. Just make sure this period is unbroken in order to avoid productivity-zapping interruptions.
And go all the way with it. A successful alone-time period means letting go of communication addiction. During alone time, give up instant messages, phone calls, e- mail, and meetings. Just shut up and get to work. You'll be surprised how much more you get done.
Good enough is fine
Problems can usually be solved with simple, mundane solutions. That means there's no glamorous work. You don't get to show off your amazing skills. You just build something that gets the job done and then move on. This approach may not earn you oohs and aahs, but it lets you get on with it.
If you absolutely have to work on long-term projects, try to dedicate one day a week (or every two weeks) to small victories that generate enthusiasm. Small victories let you celebrate and release good news. And you want a steady stream of good news. When there's something new to announce every two weeks, you energize your team and give your customers something to be excited about.
So ask yourself, “What can we do in two weeks?” And then do it. Get it out there and let people use it, taste it, play it, or whatever. The quicker it's in the hands of customers, the better off you'll be.
Don't be a hero
Go to sleep
Forgoing sleep is a bad idea. Sure, you get those extra hours right now, but you pay in spades later: You destroy your creativity, morale, and attitude.
Lack of creativity: Creativity is one of the first things to go when you lose sleep. What distinguishes people who are ten times more effective than the norm is not that they work ten times as hard; it's that they use their creativity to come up with solutions that require one-tenth of the effort.（创意使你事半功倍。） Without sleep, you stop coming up with those one-tenth solutions.
Diminished morale: When your brain isn't firing on all cylinders, it loves to feed on less demanding tasks. Like reading yet another article about stuff that doesn't matter. When you're tired, you lose motivation to attack the big problems.
Yet some people still develop a masochistic sense of honor（受虐荣誉感）about sleep deprivation. They even brag about how tired they are. Don't be impressed. It'll come back to bite them in the ass.
Long lists don't get done
Underdo your competition
Do less than your competitors to beat them. Solve the simple problems and leave the hairy, difficult, nasty problems to the competition. Instead of one-upping, try one-downing. Instead of outdoing, try underdoing.
Don't shy away from the fact that your product or service does less. Highlight it. Be proud of it. Sell it as aggressively as competitors sell their extensive feature lists.
Let your customers outgrow you
Maybe you've seen this scenario: There's a customer that's paying a company a lot of money. The company tries to please that customer in any way possible. It tweaks and changes the product per this one customer's requests and starts to alienate its general customer base.
Then one day that big customer winds up leaving and the company is left holding the bag–and the bag is a product that's ideally suited to someone who's not there anymore. And now it's a bad fit for everyone else.
When you stick with your current customers come hell or high water, you wind up cutting yourself off from new ones. Your product or service becomes so tailored to your current customers that it stops appealing to fresh blood. And that's how your company starts to die.
After our first product had been around for a while, we started getting some heat from folks who had been with us from the beginning. They said they were starting to grow out of the application. Their businesses were changing and they wanted us to change our product to mirror their newfound complexity and requirements.
We said no. Here's why: We'd rather our customers grow out of our products eventually than never be able to grow into them in the first place. Adding power-user features to satisfy some can intimidate those who aren't on board yet. Scaring away new customers is worse than losing old customers.
When you let customers outgrow you, you'll most likely wind up with a product that's basic–and that's fine. Small, simple, basic needs are constant. There's an endless supply of customers who need exactly that.
And there are always more people who are not using your product than people who are. Make sure you make it easy for these people to get on board. That's where your continued growth potential lies.
People and situations change. You can't be everything to everyone. Companies need to be true to a type of customer more than a specific individual customer with changing needs.
Don't confuse enthusiasm with priority
Coming up with a great idea gives you a rush. You start imagining the possibilities and the benefits. And of course, you want all that right away. So you drop everything else you're working on and begin pursuing your latest, greatest idea.
Bad move. The enthusiasm you have for a new idea is not an accurate indicator of its true worth. What seems like a sure-fire hit right now often gets downgraded to just a “nice to have” by morning. And “nice to have” isn't worth putting everything else on hold.