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Getting Real

The Smarter, Faster, Easier Way to Build a Successful Web Application

By Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
  • Read in 15 minutes
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  • Contains 9 key ideas
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Getting Real by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

Getting Real (2011) offers a comprehensive breakdown of the challenges facing entrepreneurs in the market for web applications. These blinks are full of hard facts and solid advice about what to do and not to do when starting your new app business.  

Key idea 1 of 9

Early entrepreneurs should build apps that speak to a demographic they know best: themselves.

Has anyone ever told you that when starting a business, a surefire strategy is to identify the most competitive company in your industry and copy it? Well, this strategy is dead wrong.

Instead of trying to mimic successful companies, do the opposite: underdo your competitors. Committing yourself to perpetually trying to one-up the competition is a dead end. What’s more, such strategies often result in the creation of overly complicated, poorly working products. 

That’s why the better idea is to do less. For instance, if your competitor makes a product that offers ten features, you should create one with just five features. By selling a product with fewer options, you’ll position yourself as the company with the simple, quality choice – and leave the complicated projects to the people with the established resources to take them on.

But how can you tell which features of your new product are the essential ones?

Simply build a product you personally would want, as you can be sure that others will want it, too. That’s because people who are like you probably share problems similar to your own. So, by making something that solves your own issues, you become your own target audience – which means saving time and money on surveys and customer feedback.

Take Basecamp, the author’s first web application. His web design company was in need of a communication tool for keeping in touch with clients and following up on projects. Since he couldn’t find a good option in the market, he just made his own! 

And guess what? Basecamp was an instant hit.

But remember, when building your own product to your own specifications, it’s essential to avoid seeking external funding to do so. If you line up a bunch of investors, you’ll soon be answering to their specific demands for involved market research and a competitive product.

At least at first, it’s smarter to begin with whatever cash you have in hand and remain your own boss.

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