Lines in the sand

One of my favorite excerpts from Rework, the 37Signals‘ folks latest (and potentially best) book:

Draw a line in the sand

As you get going, keep in mind why you’re doing what you’re doing. Great businesses have a point of view, not just a product or service. You have to believe in something. You need to have a backbone. You need to know what you’re willing to fight for. And then you need to show the world.

A strong stand is how you attract superfans. They point to you and defend you. And they spread the word further, wider, and more passionately than any advertising could.

Strong opinions aren’t free. You’ll turn some people off. They’ll accuse you of being arrogant and aloof. That’s life. For everyone that loves you, there will be others who hate you. If no one’s upset by what you’re saying, you’re probably not pushing hard enough. (And you’re probably boring, too)

It’s a great passage on many levels, but the thing that resonated with me is that what you believe in as a business will lose you customers, and you have to be willing to accept that . . . and maybe even embrace it.

Rework Book CoverIt’s what Apple does with it’s devotion to artistry and unwillingness to have anything other than complete control over the systems it designs.

It’s what Southwest Airlines does with it’s devotion to cheap, friendly travel and unwillingness to diversify its fleet, assign seats, or charge to check bags.

When you think about it, the companies  with the most passionate fans also tend to have a healthy amount of critics. Are enough people complaining about what your company won’t do?

By the way, a thanks to Jane, who bought me a copy of this book before I had to buy one.