You need less than you think. Less time, less money, less people, less of everything. David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried have built a multi-million dollar company (37signals) and know a thing or two about building and sustaining a profitable business without relying on external funding and doing more with less. Learn how.


You don’t need an exit strategy, you need a commitment strategy. Think for the long term. Your priorities are not right if you’re thinking about getting out before you even dive in. If you do manage to get a good thing going, keep it going. Good things don’t come around that often.

Learning from mistakes is overrated. Learn from small wins. When something succeeds, you know what worked–and do it again. Start with a plan, but improvise as you go on.

You need less time, money, and other resources than you think. Do you really need six months or can you make something in 4 weeks?

Be at-home good. When you actually get the product home, you’re actually more impressed with it than you were at the store. You live with it and grow to like it more and more, and you tell others. Be that product. You are aiming for a long-term relationship, not a one-night stand.

Stay Small

Have less mass.

  • Right now, you are the smallest, the leanest, and the fastest you’ll ever be.
  • You will start accumulating mass. The more massive an object, the more energy required to change its direction.
  • Avoid any long-term contract, thick processes, etc. that adds entropy. Stay lean.

It’s OKAY to be and stay small.

  • You can remain more agile and flexible, and happier.
  • Anyone who has a sustainable and profitable business should be proud.

Embrace constraints.

  • Less is a good thing.
  • Constraints are advantages in disguise.
  • Limited resources force you to make do with what you’ve got, forcing you to be creative.
  • Before you sing the ‘not enough’ song, see how far you can get with what you have.

You just can’t do everything you want to do and do it well.

  • You have limited time, resources, ability, and focus.
  • Getting to great starts by cutting out stuff that’s merely good.

Welcome obscurity

  • No one knows who you are right now. That’s fine. It’s a great position to be in.
  • Be happy you’re in the shadows. Use this time to make mistakes without the whole world hearing about them.
  • Keep improving, work out the kinks, test random ideas, try new things.
  • No one knows you, so it’s no big deal if you mess up.
  • Do you want the whole world to watch you the first time you do anything?
  • It makes no sense to tell everyone to look at you if you’re not ready to be looked at yet.

Make Progress

Start at the MVP

  • Whenever you start something new, there’s stuff you could do, you want to do, and the stuff you have to do. The stuff you have to do is where you should begin.
  • Ask yourself, “If I take this away, would what I’m selling still exist?” e.g. a hot dog stand isn’t a hot dog stand without the hot dogs.
  • Once you find the MVP, focus all your energy on making it the best it can be. Everything else you do depends on that foundation.

Ignore the details early on. Focus on the basics.

  • Getting lost in the details can cause wasted time.
  • You often can’t recognize the details that matter most until after you start building.

Decisions are Progress

  • When you put off decisions, they pile up.
  • Don’t wait for the perfect solution. Decide and move forward.
  • You don’t have to live with a decision forever. If you make a mistake, you can correct it later. (Be aware, don’t follow this rule with major, life-critical decisions. Think before you act).

Be a curator.

  • It’s the stuff you leave out that matters.
  • Constantly look for things to remove, simplify, and streamline.
  • Stick to what’s truly essential.

Focus on what won’t change.

  • The core of your life should be built around things that won’t change.

Sell your by-products

  • When you make something, you always make something else.

Launch now.

  • Once your product does what it needs to do, get it out there.
  • Get feedback, and improve in iterations.
  • Don’t mistake it for skimping on quality. You still want to make something great.
  • Stop imagining. Find out for real.

On Productivity

Find out the work that truly matters

  • Why are you doing this?
  • What problem are you solving?
  • Is this actually useful? Are you adding value?
  • Is there an easier way?
  • What could you be doing instead? What’s the Opportunity Cost?
  • Is it really worth it? Think Sunk Cost.

Interruption is the enemy of productivity

  • You can’t get meaningful things done when you’re constantly going start, stop, start, stop.
  • Long stretches of uninterrupted alone time are when you’re most productive.
  • You don’t instantly reach the flow state. You have to work towards it.
  • Just shut up and get to work. You’ll be surprised how much more you get done.

Find a Judo Solution

  • A Judo solution is the one that delivers maximum efficiency with minimum effort.
  • It’s all about getting the most out of doing the least.
  • Whenever you face an obstacle, look for a way to judo it.
  • Problems are negotiable.

Try to get Quick Wins.

  • Momentum fuels motivation. It keeps you going.
  • The way you build momentum is by getting something done and then moving on to the next thing.
  • What can you do in two weeks?

Don’t try to be a hero always.

  • Remember the “Sunk Cost Fallacy”.
  • Remember the “Opportunity Cost”.
  • The worst thing you can do is to waste even more time.

Don’t try to estimate a big project.

  • Break it down into smaller things and then estimate.
  • Break your time frame into smaller chunks. Then go one step at a time.

On Competition

Don’t try to copy blindly.

  • You don’t understand why something worked
  • Be influenced, but don’t steal.

Focus on YOU, instead of THEY

  • Who cares what they are doing?
  • It leads to overwhelming stress and anxiety. That state of mind is bad soil for growing anything.
  • Landscape changes. Your competitor tomorrow may be completely different from your competitor now. It’s out of your control.
  • Spend most of the time on improving yourself.
Written on August 13, 2023