On The Art Of The Start

I recently finished reading The Art of the Start – The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything by Guy Kawasaki.

Below are key excerpts from the book that I found particularly insightful:

1- “Great companies. Great divisions. Great schools. Great churches. Great not-for-profits. When it comes to the fundamentals of starting up, they are more alike than they are different. The key to their success is to survive the microscope tasks while bringing the future closer.”

2- “GIST (GREAT IDEAS FOR STARTING THINGS): 1. MAKE MEANING 2. MAKE MANTRA. 3. GET GOING. 4. DEFINE YOUR BUSINESS MODEL. No 5. WEAVE A MAT (MILESTONES, ASSUMPTIONS, AND TASKS).”

3- “THE ART OF INTERNAL ENTREPRENEURING: PUT THE COMPANY FIRST…KILL THE CASH COWS…STAY UNDER THE RADAR…FIND A GODFATHER…GET A SEPARATE BUILDING…GIVE HOPE TO THE HOPEFUL…ANTICIPATE, THEN JUMP ON, TECTONIC SHIFTS…BUILD ON WHAT EXISTS…COLLECT AND SHARE DATA…LET THE VICE PRESIDENTS COME TO YOU…DISMANTLE WHEN DONE…REBOOT YOUR BRAIN.”

4- “SEIZE THE HIGH GROUND Unless you are a rabbit about to be devoured by a coyote, good positioning is inspiring and energizing. It does not allow itself to • get mucked up in money, market share, and management egos. These i are the qualities to aspire to: POSITIVE…CUSTOMER-CENTRIC…EMPOWERING…In addition to seizing the high ground, good positioning is a workhorse. It is practical and serves tactical and strategic purposes that are easily understood and believed by customers, vendors, employees, journalists, and partners. Thus, good positioning also embodies these qualities: SELF-EXPLANATORY…SPECIFIC…CORE…RELEVANT…LONG-LASTING…DIFFERENTIATED.”

5- “Many entrepreneurs try to perfect their business plan and then pull PowerPoint slides out of it. They view the business plan as ; the be-all and end-all, and the pitch as a subset of this magnificent document. This is backward thinking. A good business plan is a a detailed version of a pitch—as opposed to a pitch being a distilled version of a business plan. If you get the pitch right, you’ll get the plan right.”

6- “You can argue as much as you like about the precise number of calls bottom-up model yields a much more realistic forecast than even the most pessimistic market share estimates of a consultant’s forecast about the total size of a market. The magnitude of your bottom-up forecast will establish the degree of bootstrapping you’ll have to do. The only information that will point out the need for bootstrapping more accurately is looking at your bank account balance. ”

7- “If you do take this path, however, understand that starting as a service business is a good initial path but isn’t always the right long-term strategy. Getting customers to pay for your research and development should be only a temporary strategy for a product-based company. In the long run, a service business is fundamentally different from a product business. The former is all about slave labor and billable hours or projects. The latter is all about research and development, shipping, and spreading costs over thousands of boxes going out the door.”

8- “Good recruiting starts at the top: CEOs must recruit the best people they can find. Next, good recruiting requires looking beyond superficialities such as race, creed, color, education, and work experience. Instead, you should focus on three factors: 1. Can the candidate do what you need: 2. Does the candidate believe in the meaning you’re going to make? 3. Does the candidate have the strengths you need (as opposed to lacking the weaknesses you’re trying to avoid)?”

9- “PREPARE A STRUCTURE FOR THE INTERVIEW BEFOREHAND…ASK QUESTIONS ABOUT SPECIFIC JOB SITUATIONS…STICK TO THE SCRIPT…DON’T OVERDO OPEN-ENDED, TOUCHY-FEELY QUESTIONS…TAKE COPIOUS NOTES…CHECK REFERENCES EARLY.”

10- “Never assume you’re done. Recruiting doesn’t stop when a candidate accepts your offer, nor when he resigns from his current employer, nor on his last day at his current employer—not even after le starts at your organization. In actuality, recruiting never stops. Every day is a new contract between a startup and an employee.”

11- “What most organizations learned is that partnerships are hard to make work. Though both parties wanted 2 + 2 to equal 5, they ended up with 3 instead. The problem is that glamour, flattery, and potential press coverage often seduced organizations into entering nonsensical collaborations. The gist of good partnering is that it should accelerate cash flow, increase revenue, and reduce costs. Partnerships built on solid business principles like these have a much greater likelihood of succeeding. Once you understand this, a partnership is simply a matter of implementation: making sure the people who do the real work buy into it, finding internal champions, focusing on strengths, cutting win-win deals, waiting for the right moment to bring in lawyers and legal documents, and establishing ways to end the relationship.”

12- “World-class schmoozers adopt Rezac’s outward, what-can-I-do-for-you attitude. It is the key to building extensive, long-lasting connections. Upon this foundation, here’s how to get more people to know you:  GET OUT…ASK GOOD QUESTIONS, THEN SHUT UP…FOLLOW UP.”

Regards,

Omar Halabieh

The Art of the Start

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