ReWork Your Business

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By Marshall Doak, Director, Southern Oregon University SBDC

With the thought that emerging out of the COVID Pandemic business shutdowns we have a different economic environment and feel than when we went in, I have been reading an interesting book that offers alternate advice on how to move forward with a fresh outlook to problem-solving.1   Written prior to the Pandemic, it nonetheless offers interesting viewpoints to conventional thinking regarding how to succeed in business today. If you are wanting a different view into conventional wisdom, this book is a great place to start.

It does help to be in an industry that has the ability to print millionaires by the dozens in a rapid manner, such as Jason and David are in. Being the originators of Basecamp, a project management software with wide acceptance, explains the rapid growth of their company, and also affords the two the ability to stand on the pulpit and deliver wisdom to the rest of us by virtue of their success.

As a teaser, a few items of wisdom that aren’t necessarily mainstream contained in the ‘ReWork: Change the Way You Work Forever’ book:

  • “That would never work in the real world” is commonly heard with counsel to not listen, rather: “The real world isn’t a place, it’s an excuse. It’s a justification for not trying. It has nothing to do with you.”
  • “Scratch your own itch” meaning “The easiest, most straightforward way to create a new product or service is to make something you want to use. That lets you design what you know…”
  • “Less is a good thing”, or “Embrace constraints”. “Less is a good thing. Constraints are advantages in disguise. Limited resources force you to make do with what you’ve got. There’s no room for waste. And that forces you to be creative.”
  • “Decisions are Progress”. Avoiding decisions create problems. “The problem comes when you postpone decisions in the hope that a perfect answer will come to you later. It won’t. You’re as likely to make a great call today as you are tomorrow.”
  • Look for “Quick Wins.” I think this can be used by many businesses that are slow to react. “Momentum fuels motivation. Without it, you can’t go anywhere. To keep your momentum and motivation up, get in the habit of accomplishing small victories along the way.”

One of the things I like about ReWork is the individual thoughts are independent of each other and are arranged as stand-alone papers. The net result for me is that I do not have to dedicate time to read, rather casually picking up the book and leafing through it to interesting thoughts works well with the book’s format.

It is important to have outside sources of information to your company so that you can import the best practices you are able to find in order to improve your operations. Keeping up with technological advances, with advances in systems integration, and with the best thoughts and counsel mentors can provide will keep you and your company competitive. 

Here is something to think about: For the next few months, try looking at your systems, setting goals, accomplishing small wins and recognizing those who have made these victories possible. The celebrations will build team spirit and improve you company’s performance. Set a goal. If you are not celebrating victories on a regular basis by the end of July, make a vow to seek and find competent counsel on how you can apply positive incremental changes to your business. Start with a set of goals, develop a strategy for fulfilling those goals, and then execute the plan while measuring your progress.

I’ve been spending some time this past year working with businesspeople who are preparing to exit their businesses and want to retain the value in the company to capitalize on the hard work spent over the years or decades building the company up. In some cases, the amount of work required to bring the company up to an acceptable, marketable level can be overwhelming. It takes time to institute the needed changes and to get them to integrate in order to work systems training into the company. This implies that a person needs to start well in advance of retirement building the company into a sellable entity.

In many cases, the work required to bring company to be best in class for sale are the same tasks that could be performed over the years previously at a leisurely pace.  The advantage of building over time is that the costs are absorbed along the way and the profits are enjoyed for more years than what they would be after a late minute dash just before listing time. 

Make the decision to get your business in order and enjoy the benefits for the years you have it!

Remember……………… “Decisions are Progress”.

1Fried, Jason and Heinemeier Hansson, David. (2010). Rework: Change the Way You Work Forever. Vermilion. 

Marshall Doak is the Director of the Southern Oregon University Small Business Development Center and a huge supporter of innovation and the community that forms around innovation in the economy. In private practice, he works with businesses that plan to transition to new ownership within the next five years, assisting them to build value that can be converted to retirement income when the business sells. He can be reached through: or 541-646-4126.

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