While the book is aimed at tech startups I found plenty of great advice for the non-tech ones, even service oriented startups. Guy is always funny and down to earth, and the book is written in his voice - it's almost like he is sitting there with you!
A person close to Bill Gates (or at least used to) recommended this book to me originally.
After reading The Art of the Start 1.0, I couldn't wait to pre-order the Art of the Start 2.0. This version is a comprehensive update based on 1.0. Not only it is very comprehensive in telling you what is required to do a start up in terms of legals, marketing, funding, partnering, how to set up a vision, etc, etc. Everything in this book is by experience. You get to learn from a guy who has been in every position, meaning from the employee perspective, from the point of view of a person in the garage trying to start a company, then how do you marketing your product, demo it to potential investor and he is also a VC so he can also tell you perspective from a VC. You get insight from end to end. More than that, he also put in a lot of references, so not just writing up his own stories.
Before you go too deep into the details in starting up your own company, there are a couple key mindsets mentioned in the book that we all need to make it right.
1. Make meaning -- make the world a better place. Instead of just thinking your startup would make a lot of money, try to make meaning first. Then everything shall follow.
2. Always dream big but start from small. While your startup might be the next Fortune 100 company, and you own a lot of market share. But before that, you need to start from small and then build from there. Google started with a concept of inbound links would make it a better way for search. It is a small idea but eventually led to a new search engine and then they grew from there.
In my opinion, having the right mindset in place is more important than knowing all the available action items. When you have the mindset, you will know how to choose the action items.
I have read almost every book Guy Kawasaki has written and enjoy his "cut to the chase" style. This new book follows this trend: you will get practical, actionable, specific and above all, up-to-date advice without having to wade through verbiage to find nuggets that you can actually use. Below is a fragment of the many take-aways from the book:
1. Pick a name for your start up that has a "verb potential." Kawasaki provides a way to test this. Imagine, you use this advice and the name of your new start up enters the mainstream vernacular and becomes a verb. Wouldn't you be happy you thought of this before using a name that can't possibly have verb potential? 2. The top ten mistakes entrepreneurs make and more important, how to fix them. 3. So many speakers focus on the "What" and forget about the "So what"? The "So what?" is the significance of what you're saying because you can't assume that it's always self-evident. You need to connect the dots for people. Guy gives the two most powerful words in a pitch to handle the "So what?" question in your audience's mind. 4. If you're thinking about crowdfunding, you will find help in this book including additional resources you can access. 5. Kawasaki provides many examples for the advice he gives. For example, you will find three examples of what leading financial investors look for in financial projections. Also VERY useful is Kawasaki's edit of a 90-second pitch. It shows you a sample pitch he received, and how he edited it, including outlining the lessons to derive from his rewrite. 6. He encourages you to abandon outmoded thinking - for example, why you should focus on your pitch when you first start and not waste time writing a business plan. 7. Each section has "Recommended Reading" which is always useful. 8. Real world advice on bootstrapping a start-up from someone who's been there and done that. 9. On presenting your pitch. Kawasaki says: "You're going to win or lose in the first minute or so" -- This section includes valuable advice on how to hit the ground running and not waste that crucial first impression. Even though this is a book about pitching your new product or service, it's also a great resource for improving your speaking skills for any situation. "Make love to the microphone" how to get a standing ovation is a must-read section in that regard. 10. How to build your team: everything from interview tips, to how to check references, to knowing the top lies told at interviews. This will hopefully save you a lot of expensive hiring mistakes. 11. How to position your product in a more personal way because that's more powerful and makes it easier for potential customers to imagine how a product fills their need. Again, great examples, of "impersonal" and "personal" positioning 12. Each section also has some useful exercises to get you thinking. It's like having a coach at your side. 13. When is the best time to send an email? Research-based answers. Having the empathy not to attach files larger than 5 Mbs unless you have permission and why you can lose if you ignore such a simple, yet important rule that people break all the time. 14. Another thing I love about Kawasaki's books is the proliferation of outside links to useful resources such as SocialBro, for example - a service for Twitter, to get reports on who follows you, to find new people to follow, and to determine how your content is doing. 15. Important persuasion principles that can help you - put in context and with examples.
If there is one sentence that for me sums up Kawasaki's ethos which permeates this book, and all his previous books, it's this: "The genesis of great companies is answering simple questions that change the world, not the desire to become rich." And one of his practical exercises is: "Complete this sentence: If your startup never existed , the world would be worse off because __________."
Buy this book for yourself or give it as a gift. I just finished delivering a workshop to young innovators working on pitching their apps. I wished I had the book at the time. I would have given each person a copy.
Funny thing about this book is that I stumbled upon it. I was initially convinced to read the Lean Startup. As usual, I thought I'd read a few critical Amazon reviews. All it took was the first review, and thanks to that random guy, I've enjoyed quite a wealth a knowledge. This is not to take away anything from the Lean Startup, in fact, I admit that I'm pretty biased since I haven't read it. But compared to many entrepreneurship books I've read in the past, none of them have had nearly as much content that was ACTIONABLE.
For a guy with a background working in Silicon Valley, I had imagined most of the content wouldn't have been easily transferable. Yet, the author has managed to generalize his content so that it could relate to multiple industries. Granted, some of his recommendations focus more on product than service oriented businesses, but still useful nonethelesHe breaks down the startup journey into four blocks: conception, activation, proliferation and obligation. The topics that really hit home for me include: bootstrapping, positioning, pitching, recruitment, schmoozing, evangelism (without the religious connotations) and successful partnerships.
Throughout his narrative, he meshed a sense of humor which made the flow quite smooth. He also managed to apply great and relevant quotes throughout his chapters. He ends the book with a bang, with an awesome afterword.
My takeaway quotes:
"The first follower is the one who transforms the lone nut into a leader."
"Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires." - John Steinbeck
"You can't build a reputation on what you're going to do." - Henry Ford
"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people are so full of doubts." - Bertrand Russell