The Art of The Start is by Guy Kawasaki. Guy is an accomplished author, venture capitalist, but prior to all of that, he was an accomplished innovator in Silicon Valley who began his roots at Apple before Apple was big.
You can tell from the beginning that either Guy has been around Silicon Valley for quite a while. His book offers great nuggets of information if you are looking for pitch your company to a Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist.
I really enjoyed his ideas for “starting something” (note that Guy is big into Karma):
1. Make Meaning – “The best reason to start an organization is to make meaning – to create a product or service that makes the world a better place.”
2. Make Mantra – “Forget mission statements; they’re long, boring, and irrelevant. No one can ever remember them – much less implement them. Instead, take your meaning and make a mantra out of it.”
3. Get Going – “Don’t focus on pitching, writing, planning:.
4. Define Your Business Model – “No matter what kind of organization you’re starting, your have to figure how to make money”. You can have the greatest product ever, but it you don’t plan and you can’t make money from it, your company won’t last very long.
5. Weave a MAT (Milestones, Assumptions, and Tasks) – “The final step is to compile three lists: (a) major milestones you need to meet; (b) assumptions that are built into your business model; (c) tasks you need to accomplish to create an organization.
The hardest thing about getting started is getting started. Remember: No one ever achieved success by planning for gold.
I also enjoyed Guy’s Key Principles for Getting Going:
1. Think Big – While I think most entrepreneurs would agree with this statement, it’s always nice to hear it over and over and then a few more times.
2. Find a Few Soulmates – Guy empathizes that although history likes to point to one guy has having invented this or that, many companies or inventions are discovered by a few people.
3. Polarize People – I’m not sure if I agree with this, but Guy is basically stating that you should get people to really like or really dislike something. Perhaps, this is my non-confrontational side speaking.
4. Design Different – Guy states that there are at least four different approaches.
(a) “I want one” – This is when the designer and customer are the same person. This also implies that people also want what the designer wants which isn’t always true.
(b) “My Employer Couldn’t (or Wouldn’t) Do It” – This assumes you have an idea for a product that your employer can’t or won’t pursue so you decide to pursue on your own. This is probably a better way to go since you probably have an idea what the customer’s desire.
(c) “What the Hell – It’s Possible” – As Guy points out, this could be a tough road if the market isn’t ready for it.
(d) “There Must Be a Better Way” – “They simply got an idea and decided to do it”.
Overall, I thought there were a lot of great resources and books I hadn’t heard about prior to this book. It was a quick read which is always a positive. However, I really thought that this book missed the objective that was placed on the front cover: “The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything”. I didn’t really find this to be true. If I were a Silicon Valley guy looking to pitch my idea or business to a Venture Capitalist, then I think this book is for you. I’m not that person. I am interested in starting businesses. I have an interested in starting many businesses for that matter. A good portion of the book was spent on pitching to venture capitalists and I didn’t think that “Anyone Starting Anything”, as indicated on the front cover, was really applicable. Given Guy’s background, I understand where he is coming from and think it’s a must read for a Silicon Valley entrepreneur looking for pitch an idea to a Venture Capitalist firm.
I give this book a 3.0 out of 5.0 stars.
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