I’ve been following Jason Fried and his unconventional business wisdom for years, via his books like Rework, and Remote: Office Not Required (published 7 years before coronavirus was a thing!). I enjoyed this bit from his recent interview with Kara Swisher, where he talks about what I’ll call mission-driven business-building.
Instead of asking, “what products can we develop to generate profits”, and later trying to incorporate sustainability and mission, Fried takes the reverse approach. He and his team at Basecamp, and now their new ambitious email service Hey.com, give the impression that their values permeate who they are, what they stand for, and everything that they do as a company.
This idea also touches on the rising trend of new open-sourcing models as a distribution method.
I think [you can have a significant impact as an entrepreneur] is… about igniting a bunch of different fires. For example… [at hey.com] we’re going to open-source part of our tool. We put together a list of 40 or 50 services that track people… and are making that available on GitHub [so that] other people can add to that list.
If this feature ends up in 12 other products, wonderful.
We don’t have to dominate the world to have this [feature] spread. [It’s] the same thing with ideas.
As a small company we [at Basecamp] have had a very big impact on the industry. We’re a small company, but we have ideas and a point of view, and that spreads. And other people then pick up that point of view and maybe some adopt it, maybe some change it, maybe some reject it. But it gets spread, and it gets spread in other areas. And then those things happen.
It’s like seeds blowing in the wind… it’s not about one seed. You’ve got to seed ideas. And then the world will go with what is better.
But you have to provide an alternative to [products seeking global domination.
And if our impact is [only] 100,000 customers who are paying us for Hey, or 50,000 businesses that pay us for Hey… but it shines a spotlight on the ideas that have, the concepts that we have, and the point of view that we have… and other things sprout up because of that… that’s how you really change things versus going out and trying to dominate the world.