“If you wanna meet with me… come to the garden… with your shovel… so we can plant some shit.” -Ron Finley
We’re working on a entirely new product, and I’m looking to meet some potential customers. We can meet in person, over the phone, or via Skype, etc.
The tool is for the small business owner who runs a company of between 25 and 75 people. You used to be smaller, but now you’re bigger. And you experienced some personal growing pains along the way.
When you were smaller, you used to know everyone a bit better. When you were smaller you used to be in the loop a bit more. When you were smaller you used to have a better feel for what everyone was thinking and feeling. When you were smaller you used to know what everyone liked – and didn’t like – about the direction of the company.
But now you’re bigger. And now you’re struggling to stay on top of it all. Or maybe you didn’t really care that much before because things took care of themselves. But now, you have to pay closer attention since you’re responsible for a lot more people. You care deeply about your team, and your company culture, but sometimes you feel like you don’t know enough to act decisively.
This is my story. And I have a hunch there are a lot of small business owners out there just like me. This tool can help you individually, and together we can all help each other.
We’re using this tool as we’re building it, and in the past few weeks I’ve learned a lot about my own company. We’ve already implemented some of the company-wide changes that bubbled up from what I’ve learned. These insights wouldn’t have materialized without this tool.
We’re only looking for 25 perfect customers right now. I want to get to know every single one personally. And I want to do everything I can to make this product outstanding for those 25 people. I want to help each customer to make incredible progress using this tool. I want it to change their company for the better.
So if you’re a hands-on business owner running a company with anywhere from 25-75 people, and you kept saying “yes, I totally know what you mean” when you read the story above, I’d love to hear from you. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me your story. If I feel like you’d be a great fit for this product, I’ll tell you more.
Back in high school my track coach would often get on me about my sloppy block practice. He’d say “You aren’t setting up in the blocks properly. You’re rushing it, just going through the motions.” I’d say “Why does it matter right now? I’m not racing anyone today. I’ll do it right at the meet this weekend.”
“I’ll tell you why it matters” he’d say, sternly. “You play like you practice. Practice sloppy and you’ll play sloppy.”
You’ll play like you practice. You’re not going to be sharp unless you practice being sharp. I’ve heard this again over the years.
A few years ago I took a self-defense class. At one point in the class, we worked with fake handguns. We each had a partner and we had to work on scenarios where a gun might be involved.
The instructor repeatedly said, “When your turn is over, do not hand the gun to your partner. Instead, they’ll turn their back, and you’ll just drop it on the ground so they can pick it up and start the exercise over.”
That sounded weird. You’re right next to the person, why would you drop the gun so they had to pick it up?
Without having to ask why, the instructor explained himself: “If you practice handing the gun over to your partner now, you might end up handing the gun over to an actual assailant later. Don’t laugh, I’ve seen it happen.” Then he showed us surveillance camera footage of someone doing it in robbery.
It sounded ridiculous. Why would I ever give my gun to someone who’s attacking me? The answer is because if I practiced doing that earlier, I might do it later.
When humans are in stressful situations, we tend to fall back on our practice. If I practiced handing my gun over, I might mindlessly fall back on that when it mattered most. That would be bad.
Skip steps now, you’ll skip them later. Cut corners now, you’ll cut them later. You get used to what you do most of the time.
Customers don’t just buy a product — they switch from something else. And customers don’t just leave a product — they switch to something else.
It’s in these switching moments that the deepest customer insights can be found.
On the 12th of April, a group of 24 people will attend a unique, hands-on, full-day workshop to learn about “The Switch”.
Most businesses don’t know the real reasons why people switch to — or from — their products. We’ll teach you how to find out.
The workshop will be at the 37signals office in Chicago. The cost to attend is $1000. The workshop will be led by 37signals and The Rewired Group.
- You’ll participate in live customer interviews.
- You’ll learn new techniques for unearthing the deep insights that most companies never bother to dig up.
- You’ll understand why people switch from one product to another and how you can increase the odds that the switch goes your way.
- And you’ll be able to put everything you learned to immediate use.
There’s only one simple requirement: You’ll be asked to bring something with you. It won’t be a big deal. Details will be provided one week before the workshop.
Spots are limited. Only 24 people will be able to attend and participate. Want to be one of the 24? Register now.
Note: All previous workshops have sold out well before the event, so don’t delay if you want a spot.
“For the modern audience, the fluidity of objects in Robert Lazzarini’s body of work, for example, immediately registers instead as having been run through the computer and messed around with. As a nod to this sea change in perception, Italian designer Ferruccio Laviani has created the brilliantly disorienting Good Vibrations storage unit for Fratelli Boffi.” Read the full article.
It’s untoward to bash someone publicly. I’ve done it before and I always end up feeling horrible about it later. I’ve found that the longer it takes you to feel bad about it, the more work you have left to do on yourself. I’ve worked hard to stop doing it, and I don’t do it anymore.
Of course this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have strong opinions, or withhold public disagreement on a specific decision. Every decision demands dissent. But bashing isn’t disagreeing. It’s bashing. Bashing is about tone (overly aggressive or passive aggressive), it’s about time (often tied to a knee-jerk reaction), it’s about outcome (if the point is just to make yourself feel good, then you’re just talking out loud to yourself). It often signals a lack of information (on your part).
You don’t change someone’s mind by telling them they’re an idiot. When’s the last time someone changed your mind that way?
A good trick that helped me cool myself down a couple years back was to institute a personal “1:1 bash ratio”. I didn’t always hold myself to it, but basically it went like this… Before every external bash, I had to bash myself first. If I’m going to bitch about someone else’s work, what about my work? If I have a problem with how someone runs their company, how about how I run mine? If I’m going to complain loudly about someone else’s point of view, what about mine? Are there any flaws in my way of thinking? There must be, so what are they? What am I getting completely wrong?
This isn’t a new idea, of course. “People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” – that’s been around forever. But what I like about the 1:1 ratio is that it’s not saying you shouldn’t strongly criticize – it’s saying that you owe yourself one before you dish one out to someone else. Avoiding a harsh criticism doesn’t help you learn like harshly criticizing yourself helps you learn. And eventually it helps you realize how often you’re breathing fire. Ultimately you may not want to do it anymore.
In our industry, you’ll often hear people say things like “if someone can’t figure it out in 10 seconds then they’re gone.” Or “I checked out the site and I couldn’t figure out what they did so I left. Terrible design.” Or “if it takes more than a couple sentences to explain it then it’s not simple enough.” Or “too much to read!” Or “there are too many fields on this form!” Or “there are too many steps in this process.”
I’ve said some of these things in the past, so I understand the knee-jerk impulse that lead to these sorts of reactions.
However, something’s usually missing from these assessments of the situation: The actual customer’s motivation. How motivated is the customer to solve their problem? What are they here for?
If you’re just evaluating something purely on a design-principles basis, then it’s easy to be binary about it. Good, bad. Too slow, not clear enough, confusing, whatever.
But it’s lazy to evaluate things that way – and trust me, I know, I’ve been lazy about it in the past. I’ve just recently come to remember that you have to factor in motivation.
How motivated is the customer? If your motivation is to evaluate a design, how can you accurately comment on whether or not it’s good or bad unless you understand the customer’s motivation? Their motivation isn’t always to get in and get out as fast as possible.
Customers come to learn something, research something, consider something, buy something. If they are motivated, they may not mind spending five minutes reading. They want to read, they want to know. They’re OK investing their time to find something out if they really care about the answer.
For example, while a longer form – one that a designer might cringe at – might lead to fewer trial signups, it might also lead to higher-quality, more qualified leads. A longer form could weed out the people who are just poking around from the people who are really motivated to buy.
Is clearer better? Yes. Is brevity better? Not always. Is speed important? It depends. How much detail is required? Just enough? Should you make it easier for people to get better answers sooner? Yes. But that doesn’t mean every question demands a 10 second answer and that doesn’t mean every form needs to be three fields or less.
The hardcover version of REMOTE: Office Not Required, our upcoming book on making remote working work for employers and employees, is now available for pre-order from these top online booksellers:
- “REMOTE: Office Not Required” at Amazon.com
- “REMOTE: Office Not Required” at Barnes & Noble
- “REMOTE: Office Not Required” at 800-CEO-READ
The book is planned for release on October 29th, 2013. eBook versions (Kindle, Nook, iBook, etc.) will be available for pre-order shortly, too. It’s up to the book stores to decide when these go live.
If you want to know more about some of the topics covered in REMOTE, here’s a recent interview I did with Quartz.