Thursday, June 28, 2012

Book Review - The ART of the START

Recently, I have been assisting a start-up in preparation for raising Venture Capital.  At the recommendation of a friend, I bought The ART of the START The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything by Guy Kawasaki.  Mr. Kawasaki is a venture-capitalist.  Prior to becoming a VC, Mr. Kawasaki worked at Apple. 
Mr. Kawasaki set as his goal for the book to help entrepreneurs and others starting enterprises reduce the preparatory time and move straight into development.  (Prep time including visiting with various experts to collect ideas, learn potential problems that can be avoided, etc.)
Mr. Kawasaki writes with style, verve and an appealing since of humor.
He starts with a summary of five things that each new effort should include.  One of the intriguing concepts is to avoid developing a mission statement, but instead develop a very short mantra.  Having been in some very unproductive, long, painful, meetings where mission statements were being hatched, I can appreciate the recommendation.  As an example, he uses the famous “Think” from IBM as an example (I have one of the paperweights from years gone by that IBM used to give to customers that has the Think motto engraved).
Another recommendation from Mr. Kawasaki is to move straight to product development and selling.  Product testing in his view is the realm of big established businesses – not start-ups.  Build and modify in response to customer reactions.  If customers use the product differently from your, plan, celebrate it and see if you can spread that utilization to create more customers.
Chapters roughly follow the development cycle of start-up formation, product development and refinement, capital raising, partnering, brand development and growth phase.  The book concludes with a chapter on “The Art of Being a Mensch”, a treatise on being nice to everyone you meet, regardless of their circumstance.
Each Chapter has an FAQ section, with very useful questions and answers, presumably culled from questions the author received during speaking engagements.  I found those contained immense practical advice and good common sense.  I give Mr. Kawasaki extra credit for his quotes.  While opening chapters and adding the occasional quote is a technique widely used, he found a variety of really cool, totally appropriate, quotes.
This book isn’t new – it’s been around for a while.  But if you are involved in a start-up, or doing a new venture inside an existing company, I think you will find something of both interest and value.
Highly recommended.



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