- The user isn’t the product being sold. The user is the customer.
- Startups become big by empowering their customers with great products and services that allow them to do things that were previously difficult or impossible.
- A company is a group of people with a shared goal.
- Everyone deserves a chance to make progress on meaningful work.
- Stay hungry. Stay foolish.
- You aren’t Steve Jobs, so don’t be a jerk.
- Meetings are toxic, but necessary. Manage them in a constructive way.
- Everything is a conversation.
- Everyone must bring something to the table. There is no room for “ideas guys”.
- Businesses make money.
In the comments to this 37signals blog post (which is excellent), dhh and commenter Dave Christiansen collaboratively coined a term for startup companies that aim to go into the black as soon as possible and grow under their own steam: bootstraps.
I’m in love with this. Bootstraps give entrepreneurs full control over their businesses, without interference from venture capitalists or other interests, and put the onus on finding an actual business model that works on day one. To me, it seems like a responsible, autonomous way to create a product and grow a business.
Right now, startups are sexy, and maybe they always will be – but watch the people hard at work bootstrapping, and take note of their reasons for doing it. The risks are great, but so are the potential rewards. And there’s a lot to be said for doing business on your terms.
Basecamp was done almost entirely without risk. It was completely self-funded. We treated it as a side-product and a side-project until it could pay the bills. And only then did we make it the main focus of the company.
I absolutely hate risk. I think it’s a misnomer that entrepreneurs somehow are in love with risk and making big gambles and taking big bets. I think that’s probably true for some. It’s certainly not true for me. And I think it’s certainly not true for a large constituency of other successful entrepreneurs.
I think the act of putting yourself in a position where you’re not forced to take on all this risk and bet everything is the hallmark of running things well.
The comments are worth a read too. In particular, I agree with the assertion that if your job doesn’t allow you to have site projects, you should get a new job.