Take Your Idea, Break It in Half

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,' "Getting Real: The Smarter, Faster, Easier Way to Build a Successful Web Application" He also helps to maintain the company's popular blog, Signal vs. Noise, and is regularly invited to speak around the world on entrepreneurship, design, management, and software.

  • Transcript


QuestionWhat is your primary advice to entrepreneurs?

Jason Fried: The thing we always say is, half not half-assed.  The idea is like, whatever you’re doing, cut it in half.  If you’re thinking too big probably to start.  Keep cutting things in half, otherwise it’s going to be half-assed.  So, you’re going to do this big idea and you’re not going to do anything very well.  You really ought to focus on really like, one thing and do it really, really, really well and focus on the basics.  The basics are really where it’s at. 

You go to a hotel and they have fancy furniture everywhere and they’ve got a big screen TV in the room or whatever.  But if the bed’s not comfortable, this hotel sucks.  Right?  If you fly in a plane and they’ve got the fancy WiFi in the plane or whatever, but the plane’s always two hours late, it sucks.  Like you’ve got to get the basics right.  You’ve got to get the bed right in the hotel, you’ve got to get the on time arrivals right in the airline business.  You know, if the trains have to run on time, that sort of thing.  Like if you’re in the interview business, you’ve got to do good interviews.  Work on that first.  That’s hard enough.  The idea that you can solve that problem and solve 10 other problems at the same time is just a bad thing.  So, I’m always telling people, cut, cut, cut.  Get to the core, the real essence of what it is that you are doing and do a really good job at that.  Focus on the basics.  The basics are never going to go out of style.  They’re not sexy, but they’re never going to go out of style.

Like you’ll be using a Post-It Note in 20 years.  I promise you.  But are you going to be using this new fangled note taker thing that – I don’t know, probably not.  But you’ll be using Post-It Notes because they work and they’re essential and that sort of thing.  So, you got to get your idea down to that simple essence.  So that’s what I keep telling people.