Jason Fried is the co-founder and President of 37signals, the Chicago-based web-application company. He has co-authored all of 37signals' books, including the upcoming, "Rework," as well as the 'minimalist manifesto,'[…]
When creating a new business, take your big idea and chop it in half. And then chop it in half again. Rather than loading your product up with lots of bells and whistles, just figure out how to do a few things very well.
Question: How do you take an idea from conception to reality?
Jason Fried: Our whole thing is actually just about keeping things as simple as possible. I know this is sort of a, it’s become a cliché... the word "simple" has become as cliché that I try not to use it anymore. But it ultimately, the point is that things are pretty easy and simple until you make them hard and complicated. So we’re always trying to keep them as simple and as easy as they naturally are. So if we have a big idea, let’s chop that idea in half. Let’s chop it in half again. Let’s figure out what the core thing is, what like the three things you need to do are and let’s do those things really, really well. So instead of focusing on everything and the bells and whistles, it’s more about the basics. And that’s really what our whole philosophy is all about. So people ask us, there’s a lot of competition in our business. A lot of people build software like ours. People say, "What’s different about our products?" And our answer is always, "Our products less than the competition." And I think that's really what people want, is just a few things done really, really well. And if you think about ever day of your life, the things you really appreciate aren’t the complicated things. They’re the simple things that work just the way you expect them to. So that’s sort of our way of building products, that’s our way of building this office, that’s our way of communicating, that’s the way of hiring, all that stuff comes down to what are the basics. What are the things that really matter and then just doing those really well?
Recorded on July 22, 2010
Interviewed by Peter Hopkins