This is a collection of personal notes for Getting Real by 37signals.

Why staying small is a good thing

I’ve tested and used many apps, especially for personal productivity or note taking. As soon as an app became popular and more widely used, new features started to bloat the original idea (or investors wanted to suck out more money from the app).

For a long time I was using WorkFlowy but after a year or so I left it. I was using the premium account from the very beginning, but new features weren’t worth money.

Thus it’s important to keep your app / business tailor-made for one purpose and not to try satisfy everybody’s whims, or solve each possible problem on the Earth.

Guess why dozens of Unix tools or programs are still out there even after decades? mkdir, cat, tee, sed, or whatever CLI tool serve one purpose. Treat the app you’re building the same way. The more features your app has, the more money will be spent on supporting all previous features. You know, refactoring, new tests, refactoring old tests, manual testing, integrating new changes, code review, meetings, plannings, etc.

The suggestions about small teams, rapid prototyping, expecting iterations, and many others presented here can serve as a guide whether you’re starting a business, writing a book

IT industry, or web development teaches you how to build whatever you build incrementally. When writing new articles I don’t finish them in one or two settings. Sometimes the time needed to finish an article span across a few weeks. I let, for example other colleagues from Selleo read it and get some feedback from them. If I don’t feel productive or sentences don’t seem to flow, I take a break and return after two or three days. Sometimes it’s more. In the meantime I’m switching to another project or activity.

It is said that you can’t write a book. You should only focus on one page. You also have to remember that there’s no perfect moment to be productive or have inspiration. More often inspiration equals perspiration. If I wanted to write only when I have inspiration I would stop writing long ago. The same applies to running-If I waited for perfect moment to go out and run, to only run when my body is fully stretched, I would stop running three years ago. So shut up and learn how to find the perfect moment by grinding day in and day out.

We believe software is too complex. Too many features, too many buttons, too much to learn.

You’re app won’t be used only by people in twenties or thirties. Your mom or dad doesn’t even know what what’s a web app, let alone can they discover that the obvious clickable indicator is well… clickable.

When you write a book, you need to have more than an interesting story. You need to have a desire to tell the story. You need to be personally invested in some way. If you’re going to live with something for two years, three years, the rest of your life, you need to care about it.

Life is all about stories. Yet most stories are untold. Most books are books about books. Like newspapers, books read you, not the other way round. You read what you wanted to hear. Each newspaper or books is laid out that way.

Writing or doing anything just for the sake of earning money is a straight way to mediocrity. Even if you think that what you’re doing is good, you’ve got to dig deep and find what drives you.

if you turn to outsiders for funding, you’ll have to answer to them too. Expectations are raised. Investors want their money back – and quickly. The sad fact is cashing in often begins to trump building a quality product.

Building a start-up in order to sell it after few months is a sad reality. You can always earn more money. Money is infinite resource, time’s not. Energy can be renewed, but time can’t. It’s a well known fact that everybody has the amount of money he deserves. If you cannot manage $100, who will give you $1000? If most of your money is spent on liabilities (or worse, taking new loans again and again), not investing in yourself, how come will you be able to invest thousands or millions? Read biographies about Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Thomas Edison, Nicola Tesla to learn that no matter how much money you will have, you will have to learn how to resist to buy or invest in everything. Define your limits.

Constraints drive innovation.

As you might know, almost a month ago I started 15-minute challenge to prove that any developer can share something useful within 15-minute interval. Here’s the proof. Constraints make you creative.