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Getting Real: The smarter, faster, easier way to build a successful web application
Sales and marketing books
David Heinemeier Hansson
November 18, 2009
Week: 4 All time: 158
manuellemos.netMany of the users that visit this site are working for companies in building Web sites to support their businesses and make those companies profit more.
Other users are working on sites and make profit for themselves instead of working to make other businesses more profitable. They want to live from their own business and make their lives more fulfilling and enjoyable.
Investing in the development of your own Web based businesses can be rewarding but it certainly has its risks. You have to do it right and avoid many pitfalls, so your business does not fail.
Getting Real is a book that focus on the steps of making a successful business out of creating Web applications.
It was written by the owners of 37Signals. This is a company founded by Jason Fried, who was later joined by David Heinemeier Hansson. David is better known in the Web development world for being the creator of the Ruby On Rails framework.
The book is made of many short essays that are easy to read. They cover product development, user interface design, code organizatio, hiring (or not hiring) staff, marketing the products, customer support, product launch, etc..
The whole idea of the book is to be efficient in many aspects, especially because many of us want to succeed without depending on third party investment.
Getting money from investors is hard. Even if you get it, that could compromise the chance of keeping control of your business company and be able to decide its fate in the future.
Getting real means to keep an eye in your constraints and do what is possible and sufficient to launch a successful product in the market.
For instance, if you are not taking investors capital and do not have much money to fund your business, you should avoid thinking of hiring many people. Just focus on developing Web based products that do not require many people to develop.
One of the things that they advise is to build products that are functional but initially do not have complex features that would take a long time to be developed.
The idea is to get the product out to the market as soon as possible, even if that means providing a product that may not be as feature complete as the eventual competitors' products. That way you can start making money earlier and become self-sustainable sooner.
In future, you can focus in iterating the product development and make it better in features that are really demanded by the customers.
The book gives plenty of this kind of advice to develop products in a realistic way.
However, I could not help noticing that this is all fine if you succeed. There is no approach that guarantees success. Regardless of the approach, there are always things that can go wrong, which are beyond your control.
For instance, the book advises to start small and do not hire a lot of people. That is not only reasonable, as it is the only way to go when you do not have much money of your own nor from investors to develop the business.
That does not prevent that a strong competitor appears, borrows your good product ideas, implement faster missing features that customer want by hiring more people using money from the investors, persuade your customers to switch to them and kill your business. That is a pessimistic scenario but you should not discard it.
Just because it did not happen to 37Signals, it does not mean it will not happen to you if you try a similar approach.
Competition will always exist sooner or later. It will happen sooner if the market you are addressing can generate large amounts of revenue. Maybe it did not happen to 37Signals because in reality their market is not that big.
37Signals owners claim they make millions but we don't really know that for sure because it is a private company and the real revenue figures are not published. This is just one aspect that make the owners statements questionable.
Certainly it is not all black and white in terms of what is the right approach to businesses. Different approaches have advantages and disadvantages.
This book presents one approach to build a business based on creating Web applications for customers around the world.
If you are looking into building your own business also developing Web applications, this book provides plenty of good advice that you should read and consider to follow to increase the chances of success of the business.
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