David had some very great points in his presentation about the realities of business and his call to "unlearn your MBA", but one of the simplest concepts stood out to me.
In starting BaseCamp, David talked about his time constraints in creating the software and geographic constraints working with a team of programmers dispersed around the globe.
The product of these constraints was BaseCamp, with "4+ million users" and "millions in revenue", although David won't disclose exact revenue numbers.
Large Competitors Don't Have These Constraints
I think it's important to elaborate on how these constraints actually helped the team build a great product and bring it to market quickly. In a paraphrase of David's words, "Microsoft couldn't do what we did because Microsoft would assign a 30 person team with millions in budget working full time for 2 years...we just didn't have that luxury and it made us figure shit out faster".
Constraint's That Helped BaseCamp Innovate
- Because David had only 10 hours of time per week to code the software, he was forced to keep things simple and not add useless features with his spare time. This led to a dead simple project management platform that users praise completed in about 6 months.
- Because the team worked together across multiple timezones (Chicago to Europe) via web conference / email, their communication was in results instead of just back and forth talking. Put bluntly, they communicated by showing progress on the actual product instead of simply talking to each other about what would be good to add.
An Experiment in Constraint
A good friend of mine brought up an interesting point recently. If you work full time and develop a startup product / software in your "spare time", you're forced to only do what matters. Having the luxury of an 8-10 hour work day to focus on your startup enables you to mess around with somewhat unimportant things for 8-10+ hours of the day.
Give Yourself Constraints
If you had just 2 hours per day to work on your business, you would likely spend those 2 hours doing what's important and set aside the things that might be "cool", but are not crucial.
When you start your day, spend the first 2-3 hours doing these crucial tasks and then stop for 30 minutes. If those 2-3 hours were the only time you had available for your business, would you be happy with what you've accomplished? If not, refine your focus on what you're spending time on.
Is It Crucial...or Just Cool?
What are the crucial things that you've completed today or crucial things that you know you need to get done tomorrow? What are some of the "cool" things that you've spent time on while not focusing on getting the crucial things done?