Saturday, December 1, 2012

Re-reading Rework

Rework is a fantastic business book for all levels of entrepreneurship. I use this book as a way of reconnecting myself with reality. I'm naturally always relentless and sometimes I find myself slowly being blinded by the passion I invest into my vision. In the time that I've been doing startups (2 years ago), I've learned a great deal of things that I will always know I can transfer into the next venture. I love what I do and I love building products that connect people in valuable ways.

In tying into the things that Rework outlines, leverage is one of the most important things to use in any type of process you use in business. If there's a tool you will allow you to put in 20% of the effort but output 80%, you'll find yourself moving faster than your competition and investing that extra time in refining your product. Being stuck in the trenches where you are frantically trying to figure out what features will grow your platform's user base can be a stressful situation. In the beginning, it's described as a "eureeka" moment because it all makes sense; however, once you get into the marketing portion, you find yourself hitting a wall because it just isn't simple enough or people don't understand the value right away.

Since then, I've adapted, learned, and changed my ways. In trying to build better products, I always try to think of the ziploc concept (thanks to an inspiring colleague of mine). If the product you're trying to build doesn't pass the ziploc test, it will almost certainly fail. In the mobile world, it becomes increasingly more important the user experience is extremely simple. One button: login, one button: accomplish a task that adds value to my life. This might seem crazy but it's exactly what gets people addicted to your application. In the past, I've tried to apply the same "tried and proven" user experience strategies, such as, having clear CTAs, better copy, structured information architecture -- things are different now and the bar has been heightened and things need to be relentlessly simplified. In fact, for an example, with tools like Facebook Connect, LinkedIn Connect, and GitHub, it almost makes no sense to build your own authentication system.

In one my startups, we added several different authentication providers, such as, Facebook, Google, Windows Live, and Yahoo!. I think this was a small mis-step which had a huge impact because it introduced too many choices. Software developers (our primary target audience) are obviously technical but ultimately, they are human beings -- and in order to humanize any type of complex software product, it needs to pass the ziploc test. Additionally, as a technology startup, it becomes extremely important to use the right tools for the right job -- not the tools that are politically aligned. On the web, if you're unable to get up and running within a few minutes and shipping to production -- you're probably using the wrong tools. While many things didn't go as expected, this is the life of an entrepreneur and a software believer. It's never a straight road to success -- it's going to be full of wild challenges -- plenty of victories and plenty of losses. The main thing I have learned is that although I've fumbled and tripped over a few obstacles, I'll always have that burning determination to get back up and try it with a fresh perspective again.

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." - Thomas Edison.