Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Startup Advice: "Commit to Making Decisions"

I'm working my way through ReWork, a book about no-frills startups. It’s by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, the founders of 37Signals (which developed Basecamp, Backpack and other no-frills software).

You can download excerpts from the book here.

I’m now halfway through the book, and a bit disappointed that it reads like a primer on startups. Some of it contradicts conventional wisdom (“Learning from mistakes is overrated”; “Why grow?”; “Embrace constraints”), and some of it is insightful and motivating (“Planning is guessing”; “Make a dent in the universe”). But not a lot of meat on these bones.

Still, here’s one part I really liked. “When you put off decisions, they pile up. And piles end up ignored, dealt with in haste, or thrown out.”

The authors’ solution? “Commit to making decisions,” they write. “Don't wait for the perfect solution. Decide and move forward.”

I have met many entrepreneurs who got hung up on non-essential details – the company name, someone’s title, the color of the prototype. You can't know what works best until you try. So make the best decision you can, and move on - staying prepared to fix it later, if necessary and when convenient.

“Long projects zap morale,” say the authors. “The longer it takes to develop, the less likely it is to launch. Make the call, make progress, and get something out now – while you've got the motivation and momentum to do so.”

Now that’s pure gold. And not just for startups, but for any business that aspires to innovate, change or lead.

What decisions are holding you back?

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