Nathan Sykes

March 5, 2021

Making Software Less Annoying

I'm a huge fan of Basecamp - the fact that I'm writing this on HEY's new blogging platform should point that out. I love their philosophy, their software, and the people who work there. I've read every single book they've ever written, even though I've never coded more than a day in my life. My wardrobe has seven Basecamp shirts.

Basecamp currently maintains two products dedicated to communication and collaboration.

  • HEY, a highly opinionated email service, is for external communication - speaking to your vendors, partners, customers, and outside entities.
  • Basecamp, a piece of revolutionary project management software, is for internal communication - collaborating with your team using an async project management methodology.

Did you know that the average company uses 129 apps? What the fuck? According to that article, even smaller firms use an average of 73 apps in their day-to-day operation.

What draws us to Basecamp and HEY is that it replaces like seven different pieces of software. We no longer have to pay for Slack, Asana, Dropbox, G Suite, and other stupid nonsense.

But what makes Basecamp even better than every single one of their competitors is that, when compared to their competitors, their apps do next to nothing. They're super simple. And they're designed that way.

Apps with lots of features distract you from the work you should be doing. It might be a procrastination thing, or you're obsessed with perfection, or one of seven thousand other excuses. After all, can you really perform at your peak if the background of your Trello board isn't customized? Or if your Dropbox files are in the wrong order? Or if don't log all of your subtasks into Asana?

That's sarcasm.

If you couldn't tell.

I run a small private equity firm, Howdy Interactive. And in our house, simple wins out every time. It's why we only buy companies doing $250,000/yr - if we wanted a seven figure deal size, we'd have to retain a diligence firm, compile data rooms, secure financing, and jump through hoops with our lawyers. That's annoying. We keep it simple - handshake deals, trust-based due diligence, and a connection with our founders.

We don't like annoying shit, software included. That's what draws us to Basecamp's suite of products - it just lets us get the work done, so we can get to what we love doing faster. It's simple, it works, and it works well.

Even when we need to use products outside of Basecamp, we do our damn best to find products that fit Basecamp's mantra. To manage our firm's deal flow, we could easily justify using some stupid CRM like Salesforce (if you're not hip to the Salesforce jive, they base their whole existence on adding enterprise-grade complexity to everything they do. Yuck!). Instead, we go back to our mantra - simple wins out every time.

It's what brought us to our new CRM of choice, Less Annoying CRM (how's that for a name?)

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LACRM is awesome. It's simple. It's not annoying (ha!). And it just works.

It didn't take us weeks to figure out.

It took us minutes.

So we could get back to the work we needed to do.

So we could wrap that up and get back to the stuff that we wanted to do.

Don't overthink it. Use the tools that help you get the most done in the least amount of time. As Seth Godin would say, "you don't get points for making your workflow look pretty - you get points for doing the work."