Rework Book Summary (Jason Fried & David Hansson)

Ever feel like the traditional business rule book is holding you back? Like there’s a better, more exciting way to do things? Well, you’re not alone.

And that’s exactly why I want to introduce you to a game-changing book called Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson.

Now, don’t let the title scare you—this isn’t about tearing down your hard work. It’s about rethinking it, challenging those outdated assumptions, and embracing fresh perspectives that can truly revolutionize your business.

This book is packed with insights that can change the game for you, whether you’re just dreaming of starting your venture, are already dipping your toes into the entrepreneurial waters, or are looking to scale your existing business to new heights.

But before diving into this informative and inspiring book, let’s first discuss what insights you can take from it. And what can you apply to your business?

Part 1: Go

It is time to make a dent in the universe, in other words, to make a difference in the real world. You don’t always have to create products that benefit you, but leave your selfish self and think of your customers’ needs. Many times, when a company releases its products, they are meant for them, not for the customers.

The second thing to remember while starting a business is to scratch your itch. Sometimes, the problem you are facing is also faced by other people in general. So, create a product that benefits both of you.

Like the inventor, James Dyson scratched his itch by creating a cyclonic and bagless vacuum cleaner. Because he and the public all have the same problem with dirt clogging the pores of the vacuum cleaner, he invented one that could fix it.

Start making something; this phrase conveys that if you were unable to start your business in the past for any reason, start it now because it is never too late to bring a change.

No Time Is Not an Excuse

Stop giving the most common excuse that you don’t have enough time. If you really want your goal so badly, then you must have taken some time out for it. Instead of watching TV at night and playing, you could put your efforts into accomplishing your goal. Also, instead of sleeping at 10:00, sleep at 11:00

Sell your customers what is good for them. Because if you are cheating on them, then they’ll eventually get to know about it, and they’ll hate you for it. If you genuinely sell your customers the best product or service, and even if you lose some, you won’t regret it.

The Whole Foods Company always sells its customers organic and high-quality food products. You won’t find any junk food there. Although the products there are expensive, they are good quality.

Now, the author tells the starters to connect with reality and give their customers genuine care and service, instead of just hanging some mission statement on the bulletin board of their office.

Imagine how you’d feel standing in the empty and cold rental car office with no one to attend to you. But then you see a mission statement pinned to the office’s bulletin board, which states that the office’s goal is to give you the best possible service.

You would feel mocked and think that this company’s people are making a fool of you, because the mission statement is completely opposite and disconnected from reality.

You Need Less Than You Think

If you have not become a starter yet and want to become one, the author’s first advice is not to take outsiders’ money or indirectly funds. That’s because there are so many cons attached to it. 

When you take someone else’s money, you are bound to pay them back as soon as possible because nobody wants to run a long investment with you. And first of all, you really don’t need much funding in this service economy era.

All you need to do is sit at your home and operate from there unless the work requires storage or building. When you should really be creating something new for your customers, you are using most of your time and energy in trying to find a way to pay back your investors.

Now, if you think you need many employees, an investment, a big office, or things like that, think realistically. ‘DO YOU REALLY NEED THAT?’ If you think deeply, you’ll find that minimum resources are also enough to get started.

Start a Business, Not a Startup

Start your own business, not a startup. Anyone working on creating a startup ends up regretting it because, at first, they think they don’t have to worry about expenses or revenue. After all, it is somebody else’s business. 

But if you really want to create a business, you should also have that mindset, because real businessmen worry about profit from the first day on. They don’t fear dealing with bills and payrolls. 

Another thing to remember is to make a commitment strategy, not an exit strategy. You might have heard people asking others what their exit strategy is even before starting their business. So, is it sensible to meet a divorce lawyer on your wedding day?

Just like that, when you start a business, focus on making it more prosperous and profitable for you instead of thinking about selling it to others. 

If you are a starter, you should embrace the idea that you have less work load, are more flexible now, and are more flexible than anyone in the business field because as you climb the business ladder, you will get busier and busier.

Most importantly, if you are alone as a starter, it is a good opportunity for you as you can make mistakes and rectify them, change your priorities, and change your mind if needed.

Part 2: Progress

Some straightforward ideas that are discussed in this section can help you make progress in your business. Following the advice or suggestion given by the author can help you manifest more with less.

Having fewer resources is a good thing. He says you can be more creative with your product if you have fewer things.

Poets like Shakespeare use sonnets to create limitations. Because of the limitation and necessity of creating a poem with only 14 lines, the poets use their creativity to increase the beauty of the poems, which later turn out to become master pieces.

The author states that we have limited resources, time, ability, and focus, so we can only productively do one thing at a time.

To flourish your business, you should focus on the epicenter or core product that your company sells. Let me give you an example of a hot dog stall. A hot dog is the epicenter of the stall; if it is not there, the stall won’t remain a hot dog stall.

Ignore the Details Early on

You have to figure out the part of the equation that can’t be removed and focus on that only. Thus, we can conclude that you should only focus on and improve your core product; anything else is not mandatory.

As soon as you can, get rid of the details of your work because nobody cares as much about the details as they do about the outer framework. Besides, if you still believe that adding details will add more glory to your product, you should start building your product because you will not realize the details that matter most until after the product is made.

Another way to make progress is to get into the habit of making decisions instead of delaying them. If you procrastinate, then the decisions will pile up, not be considered, and be denied.

So, to prevent this from happening, stop avoiding it and get into the habit of decision-making. After a decision has been made, there is always a possibility of modifying it. You can’t change it entirely, but you can modify it.

Be a Curator and Problem Solver

What is a curator, and how can you become one? 

The curator sorts things out to get the best possible result or product. He works on the principle of remove, simplify, and streamline. Like him, you also have to constantly improve your product to earn more profit. You also have to keep in mind that it is not only about packaging, marketing, or price; it is about quality.

After you’ve become a curator, apply the principle you’ve learned to your business, even if it’s failing. Many times, when a company is failing, it concentrates more of its effort and resources on retrieving the business, but you should just do the opposite.

You have to trim out things and reduce them to the least until only the best product is left because adding more resources to it adds more burden on you.

Business is stable or permanent, and if you want to keep your business going, then don’t focus on trends or style and don’t build your product around them because they always go out of season. Instead, focus on things that never change, like reliability, affordability, practicality, fast or free shipping, great selection, friendly return policies, etc.

Launch Now, Perfect Later

Don’t obsess over tools because you don’t need them to get started. Instead, focus on your content or product. If it is good, then people will automatically get attracted to it. Even if you give Tiger Woods cheap clubs, he can still destroy you with them. It doesn’t matter whether the clubs were expensive or not; what really matters is his skills.

If you have created a product, then you must have also created a by-product. You might not notice it, but it is still there, and if you spot it, you can make a lot more profit from it, like Henry Ford did. 

He learned that when the Model T car was manufactured, scraps of wood were wasted, so he learned to convert them into charcoal and built the Ford Charcoal plant, later renamed Kings ford Charcoal. So, this example shows that, like Ford, you can also create your own product (Model T car) to get a by-product (Charcoal) in return.

After you have built your product, it’s time to launch it. Don’t worry about the leftover tasks; you have added everything necessary to your product, and you can add the luxuries later.

Part 3: Productivity

To work better, get rid of things that distract you and break up your work into smaller parts.

If you want to achieve real success in your work, then you have to become real, i.e., practical yourself. For example, instead of describing how something looks like, draw it. Do whatever you can to make people understand you better to increase your productivity.

Asking yourself questions about your business is also a stepping stone to success. Some questions are:

  • Why are you doing this?
  • What problem are you solving?
  • Is this actually useful?
  • Are you adding value?
  • Will this change behavior?
  • Is there an easier way?
  • What could you be doing instead?
  • Is it really worth it?

Now, what are your thoughts? What could be an interruption to your productivity? Of course, they are communication addiction, which includes messages, phone calls, emails, and meetings. To avoid being interrupted, go to a quiet place where nobody can disturb you.

You can socialize with people at lunches or other breaks, but not outside of those because, often, in the name of collaboration, you end up wasting your time and interrupting your productivity. 

Less Talk, More Action

Can you guess the worst interruption in the business world? They are meetings. Yes, they really are, because you are wasting your time and others too. Think of it this way, if you are having a 1-hour meeting and 10 people are coming to attend.

Then, instead of 1 hour, you are wasting 10 hours of productivity. If you do not agree with it, then you should at least make some rules to limit the time and people who are going to attend the meeting.

The next thing to consider is that whenever you are making something or working on a project, don’t waste time on perfecting it. Instead, you should focus on completing it by the set deadline, because even if it is good enough, you will also be successful.

The Power of Quick Wins

Now, the author talks about quick wins. What are quick wins? They are an easy way to achieve success or complete your work before the set time. When you are in a state of momentum, you can quickly complete a large amount of work in less time.

If you have large projects to complete, you should break them into smaller chunks and divide them into days or weeks because whenever you complete a certain amount of work in a week, you will experience enthusiasm and quick wins, which will motivate you to continue your work.

Then, if you are having problems continuing your work, quit it. It is the best because you can only add more and more effort to it without any creativity or heart, and then you will regret it later. Don’t get into hero mode, and don’t think you can still save your project by adding more and more effort; you are instead wasting more of your time and energy on it.

If you think you are getting more work done by sacrificing your sleep, you’re wrong. Sleep helps you refresh and restart your work with more creativity. If you are sacrificing it, you are also sacrificing your creativity, morale, and attitude.

It will also affect you physically and mentally. Some of the changes you will notice in yourself by reducing your sleeping hours are: 

  • Stubbornness
  • Lack of creativity
  • Diminished morale
  • Irritability

We’re All Terrible Estimators

Now I am going to tell you something which you won’t accept. You are a bad estimator, and everyone is, including me, because we don’t really know how long something will take to complete or start; we just pretend to know it.

How many times have you thought that this shopping spree will only take minutes and it will take hours? How often have you thought it will take hours to rake the yard when it only takes 35 minutes?

We are terrible at estimating small-scale things, so just imagine how terrible we would be at estimating long-term projects. The author advises us to break these projects into small fragments or time periods, like weeks. Maybe you’ll still guess it wrong, but it will be a lot less wrong than estimating a six-month project.

You can also apply this to your long lists. Because they never get done, break them into pieces and celebrate when you complete a part of them.

Now, to expand on this further, apply it to your decisions because whenever you make a big decision that turns out bad, it is really hard to change it. But when you make small decisions, you can’t make big mistakes. They can be fixed if they turn out bad.

Part 4: Competitors

This part will focus on copying. Copying in the sense that you copy the products of others, and when you are successful, others will copy your product. 

First of all, we will only talk about copying. You are working up your failure formula when you copy others’ work. Because you only copy the product’s outer layer that the real creator made, you can never see the layers of hard work and effort that lie underneath.

Therefore, you can never connect properly with the product. While copying, you never lead but always follow. Also, when you don’t know the layers underneath, you can’t make decisions regarding it in the future.

Now, if we want to discuss how you can stop others from copying your product, you have to pour yourself into it. When you do, you become a part of it, and nobody can steal your essence without making it a mess. 

Stop Staring at the Competition

Let’s talk about what you should do in your business. Most of us think that we can win in the business arena by one-upping our competitors. But that is not true; in fact, it is quite the opposite. People prefer simpler, cheaper, and low-maintenance products, while what we are trying to make is a more complex, advanced, and expensive product.

Let me give you an example of bicycles. The major bicycle brands are trying to make more advanced products with more features. But recently, simpler bicycles have taken over because people prefer simpler, lighter, cheaper, and low-maintenance bicycles.

Ultimately, you should not pay much attention to what the competitors do because if you start paying more attention to them, then who will pay attention to your business? 

If you spend all your time worrying about your competitors, you cannot improve your business. And if you feed on your competitors’ ideas, you can’t create something new yourself.

It’s because you’re letting someone set the rules and can’t stop them. Instead of just changing the rules, you need to create new ones yourself.

Part 5: Evolution

It is about the customer and the seller’s perspective. ‘You should learn to say no’ is a phrase we’ve heard from many books. But have you understood its deeper meaning yet? If the answer is no, then let me tell you.

When you say no and let some of your customers down in the business world, it is ok. There is no need to be concerned, as they are not worth taking a risk on. Don’t get in the mentality that everything the customers say is right. You have to use your own brain too.

By considering and implementing the opinions of the minority, you are losing the majority, which is not good. In fact, by denying some of your customer’s requests, you can improve more.

Take the example of ING Direct Bank. 

It is the fastest-growing bank in America and has become so by saying no. When a customer asks for a credit card, online brokerage, or if they want to open an account with a million dollars in it (the bank has a strict deposit maximum), the bank says “no.”  It is because they want to keep it simple.

Let Your Customers Outgrow You

The second thing is to let your customers outgrow you. For example, suppose you have one major customer who puts a lot of money into your company. In that case, it is inevitable that you will also modify your products to satisfy his needs. But imagine that the customer leaves you; you are devastated.

Now nobody’s going to buy your product because it doesn’t fit them anymore, because it was previously made to suit that one particular customer who left. So make your products according to your customer’s needs, not according to a single customer’s needs.

Don’t Confuse Enthusiasm with Priority

Now, another problem that pops out is the confusion you have between enthusiasm and priority. For example, whenever you get an idea, you get in a rush to implement it due to your enthusiasm. But the author suggests a solution to it.

Write it down, let it sit there for a few days, and then evaluate its value with a calm mind. There is also a trick to identifying which idea is great. If you get an idea and think that it is a ‘surefire hit right now’ and the next day you think that it is ‘nice to have,’ then it isn’t worth the rush.

You should create something that is an ‘at-home good’ product. What is actually an ‘at-home good’ product?  Let me first explain just the opposite of an at-home good product. Imagine that you go to a store and find the best-packaged product, but when you buy it at home, you feel disappointed with its service.

This is the time that you bring an at-home good product because it might not look very attractive at first, but when you use it, you feel satisfied. This is the type of product that you have to make.

Part 6: Promotion

If you are an obscure person, celebrate that obscurity because after you become successful, you will miss it. When you are alone, you can hide your mistakes and save yourself from embarrassment. You can experiment to make new and better products.

If you want more customers and attention, you don’t need to chase them. They will come to you. You might be thinking ‘how’? It is possible only if you build an audience instead of customers.

Build an Audience

You should share information with them on social platforms to build an audience. Speak, write, blog, tweet, make videos – do whatever you can to build an audience. If it is built, then nobody can snatch away their attention from you. When you want to sell something, your audience will be ready to buy it, and when you want to speak something, they’ll be ready to listen to it.

Another way to attract them is to teach them. If you are a chef, then teach people to make good dishes, write recipe books for them, and share information with them.

This creates a special bond between you and your audience, and they’ll start to trust and respect you more. You might be wondering why we can’t use ads to attract our audience instead of doing all this.

The answer to this question is that ads have different impacts on your customers. They can’t win your audience’s loyalty for you; you are the only one who can.

Show them everything you do backstage. This means showing your audience how your company operates and how much sweat and effort goes into what you sell. Everyone loves to know the secrets of a successful company, and by letting them know, you are creating a bond with them.

They’ll start to see you as a human being instead of a faceless company, and they’ll understand and appreciate you more. By showing them what happens behind the scenes, you are showing them a world with flaws and mistakes.

Everybody has imperfections, so they will act real. You will not seem professional, but you will not seem robotic. They will see you as a genuine person.

Give a Little, Get a Lot: The Power of Free Samples

If you want to increase sales of your product, use the drug dealer model. It is basically a way to sell more by giving away a little. Whenever a dr..g dealer gives away a small amount of for free to a person, he/she knows that the person will come back again with money.

This is the type of confidence you should have in your product. To build this confidence, you have to make a product so good that you know your customers will come back to buy it. If you are uncomfortable giving away a little, it means your product is not good enough.

If you have heard about someone who has become famous overnight, then don’t believe it; it’s a myth. It is because that person has done a lot of hard work for years to get into a position where things could take off.

Part 7: Hiring

Before hiring someone, you should do the work yourself because when you do a task yourself, you learn a lot more about it. And you can also use that information to conduct interviews and ask questions. If you’ve done a job before, you know when to criticize and support your employees.

You should hire when you think you cannot handle your work efficiently and when you have started producing low-quality work or products. You should prefer to work alone first, but when it burdens you, you should hire someone.

If you think you need more employees, think about this: When a company hires talented people with nothing important to do, it does more good than harm.

Hire slowly. When you hire quickly, you get surrounded by strangers. Think about it: How would you feel if you were surrounded by strangers at a party? You’ll have no one to talk to, and it’ll get boring.

But it would be a lot more enjoyable if you were with your old friends at a small gathering. That’s why you should hire slowly while evaluating what they did for their company and how many more employees you need.

Focus On Skill Over Credentials

Now, if you think that you can hire employees by seeing their resumes, then you are completely wrong. The person who sent you the resume is also sending it to other companies. But if you still think that resumes are important, then one way to identify the best employees is to check the cover page of their resumes. If there is anything that he writes and you think that that skill is important, then you can hire him/her.

The author now discusses how we judge others based on their education or training. But what matters is how well they’ve done their job or how much they’re into it.

We shouldn’t judge people based on their formal education. Most CEOs don’t have higher qualifications, but they have achieved success. We should focus on his/her talents and skills.

Hire Great Writers

One of those skills is writing and communication skills. If a person has these, immediately hire him/her. They’ll earn you a lot of profit.

Now, if you want to hire a good manager but can’t find one, then focus on his/her background. If he/she gets you a lot more work done when you leave them alone, or if they have taken some important steps themselves in the past, hire them immediately.

If you can find talented people anywhere in the world, then hire them, don’t hesitate over the distance, not in this era where you can connect with anyone who’s overseas apart.

The author also gives an example of how, in his company, he has hired many people who don’t even live close to his country and operate from far away but still get a lot more work done.

Part 8: Damage control

How are you going to prevent people from panicking when there is a crisis or emergency within your company? It’s simple: you just need to accept the bad news. Take responsibility for it, as someday people will find out about it via the media or other avenues. They’ll blame you for not taking responsibility.

To stop this from happening, try to control the situation as quickly as possible. Don’t try to hide it under the rug; instead, spread that news as far and wide as possible. Let’s understand this with the example of Exxon Valdez oil company.

While transporting the oil tanker to the company, it spilled 11 million gallons of oil into a river near Pittsburgh. The chairman also failed to reach the place until two weeks after that accident. Until then, the news was spread, and people thought that the company was hiding something or cheating on them.

But after the chairman reached there, he took the situation into his own hands and told the people that he was taking responsibility for what had happened and that he would clean the river.

After that, the people’s perspective changed. They saw this situation as a good oil company that tries to clean up instead of a rotten oil company that does evil.

Speed is Key: Fast Response = Happy Customers

Now, the author tells us the significance of speed and how it matters most when controlling a situation. Whenever your customer is angry, you should give him fast replies, and in this way, he’ll calm down. However, if you reply late, he will be mad at you and will lose trust in you.

Another way of calming him down is to give him an apology. You should not give hollow apologies to your customers that have an ‘if’ phrase attached to them, like, “We’re sorry if it upsets you.” Instead, use more humble words to apologize.

You are the only one who can apologize to that person from your heart. Put yourself in that person’s shoes, and you’ll know what he wants to hear in an apology.

Front Line Feedback

Now, if you care for your customers and want to know what they really want, then get on the front line. It means interacting with them personally. Take the examples of chefs and waiters. If the chefs never interact with the customers, then they’ll never learn their flaws and will never improve their cooking patterns.

But sometimes, we should not change our decisions based on what people say. Sometimes, you just have to go ahead with what you believe. When you change or modify your products, the majority of people will be disappointed by them.

At that moment, you should take a deep breath and leave it to fate. After some time, they’ll adjust and start to like your new product more than they did the old one. 

Part 9: Culture

You might underestimate the role of culture and environment in your work, but they are actually very important. When you build a good environment or soil, you can grow the seeds of trust, freedom, and responsibility in it. You are also providing privacy, a workplace, and tools to your employees and the respect they deserve. 

If you don’t create that culture, then at least stop treating your employees like kids. This means don’t make them sheeps who’ll follow you everywhere. Don’t give them instructions when they don’t need one, and don’t ask them to ask for permission every time they do something new. Also, let them use their own brains.

You should send your employees home at 5 because they are not working 10-12 hours as you think; they still work for only 5 or less than 5 productive hours. 

But when you send them home at 5, they’ll work efficiently because they know that they have other work to do at home. If they productively work at the office until 5, then they will be free to spend time with their family.

Be Yourself, Not a Robot

Not to make policies unnecessarily based on the mistake made once by a person. Imagine you saw a person named John wearing shorts, and you yell at him, “Someone’s wearing shorts!? We need a dress code!” You don’t need a dress code; you need to tell John not to wear them again.

The second thing is to create a culture in which you are yourself. You shouldn’t rely on formal language because it is robotic and will not let you form bonds with the person you are sending the email to. When you use formal language, you indirectly say you don’t trust that person.

He also identifies some four-letter words we should avoid in business: need, must, can’t, easy, just, only, and fast.

The author also discusses how the abbreviation ASAP is poison. Whenever this abbreviation is used at the end of emails, the person feels that everything else that doesn’t contain the word ASAP has no value.

Only use this abbreviation when something is really important, and if not done, it can cause heavy loss. Unnecessarily using these abbreviations leads to stress and burnout because of the pressure on them. Nobody is going to die if a task is not done, so please use it wisely and when it is really urgent.


The first key lesson you can take is to ignore the real world. It doesn’t mean you should isolate yourself to accomplish your work. Instead of listening to people who tell you to stop or say that they’ve tried this before, but it didn’t work.

If you listen to them and take it to your heart, that means you’re dragging yourself down, and that’s what they were trying to do. So stop listening to people who want to drag you down.

The second phrase we often hear from people is to “learn from your mistakes.” But don’t you think that this phrase is a bit overrated? To be true, if you’re failing again and again, then there is no space for success. So aim high and aim for success.

The third thing you should learn from this book is to guess instead of plan. You might think this is nonsense because if there are no plans, how will you execute your work? But in reality, plans bind you. What you receive is because of what you did.

There is always room for improvement, but when you plan, that scope will diminish because everything has a limit. When you guess, you are just predicting, which gives you a chance to improve in between.

The fourth takeaway is for people who are already in business and are trying to make it reach a higher level. But the hurry isn’t worth it because many times, when you want to hire more people to grow your business, you are making the worst mistake.

The author says that premature hiring is the death of many companies. You might think 10,000 employees are the right size for your company, but maybe it’s only 200 or 5 or maybe just you and your laptop. So, go slow and see what happens!

Workaholic! You might say it’s the best word to describe you. And you will feel proud if someone says it to you. But in the name of appreciation, it’s an insult. Because often the people who stay in offices overtime or do their work using extra hours are unintelligent.

Yeah, they are. It’s because they often don’t fix the problem, but instead create it or expand it. Workaholics do not do something productive in their day; instead, they use it up.

The last thing to keep in mind is that if you are a business owner or entrepreneur, don’t call yourself by that term because the word entrepreneur is outdated. A new and down-to-earth word for it is ‘starters.’ 

Many people own a business and are creating profit from them, but they never call themselves entrepreneurs or business owners because they are doing what they love, and they are getting paid for it, too.

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