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Book review: The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki

The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting AnythingThe Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything by Guy Kawasaki

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


An excellent handbook for those starting a business or non-profit, stressing function over form and action over planning. The lessons apply to organizations whether they're bootstrapping or seeking funding from venture capitalists or angel investors. Kawasaki includes plenty of historical examples and firsthand experience, making this a practical real-world resource that's more valuable than a simply conceptual textbook.

Guy Kawasaki is a respected serial entrepreneur whose articles I've read in Inc. magazine. When I noticed that the Momentum startups were reading this book, I decided to see what I could apply to my technology startup, OptimWise. The book's lessons are relevant, concise, and entertaining. Each chapter covers a particular topic (bootstrapping, branding, etc.) and ends with exercises and recommended reading.

Great ideas for starting things
1. Make meaning: create a product or service that makes the world better.
2. Make mantra: turn your meaning into a mantra, not a boring mission statement.
3. Get going: create and deliver; don't over-plan.
4. Define your business model: figure out how to make money.
5. Weave a MAT: set Milestones, know the Assumptions in your model, accomplish Tasks

Positioning
Be inspiring and energizing.
Target a specific niche.
Use plain English (avoid jargon and buzzwords).

Pitching
Pitch the real-world use of your product or service.
Help people picture why they need it; "catalyze fantasy".
Alleviate pain.
Provide a demo.
End with a call to action.

Bootstrapping
Ship, then fix based on customer feedback.
Focus on function, not form.
Understaff and outsource non-strategic functions as much as possible.

Recruiting
Don't trust intuition, trust facts.
Only hire someone you'd love to bump into at the grocery store.

Partnering
Form partnerships for financial reasons, not to impress others.
Partner to accentuate strengths, not cover weaknesses.
It's not what you know or who you know, but who knows you.
Listen more than you talk.
Connect based on shared passions.
Give and ask for favors.

Branding
Create something contagious.
Make it easy to use.
Recruit evangelists.

Lead generation methods
Conduct small seminars.
Give speeches.
Get published.
Network proactively.
Participate in industry organizations.

Be a mensch
Help lots of people.
Do what's right.
Pay back society.

Writing a business plan forces you to think through your business.
Don't worry about money as much as where you're going.



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