No fluff, no nonsense; just straight-up direct advice and wisdom on entrepreneurshipNo fluff, no nonsense; just straight-up direct advice and wisdom on entrepreneurship
It’s about time I got to read a book on entrepreneurship! I recently joined an accelerator program as a startup success manager, so I needed to know all about startups quickly. A quick Google search pointed me to The Art of the Start 2.0 by Guy Kawasaki on a few entrepreneurship blogs. These recommendations also came alongside The Lean Startup by Eric Ries (my current read!), so I figured this must be good.
Straight-up, honest and direct entrepreneurship advice only
“Entrepreneurship is about doing, not learning to do.”Guy Kawasaki
Guy Kawasaki wastes no time on long and fancy introductions among the chapters; they were short, and the author dishes out advice and wisdom immediately after. There were also additional material at the end of every chapter, containing useful insights that made the content more relevant in today’s context.
The author organized the contents into three parts: (i) Conception, (ii) Activation, and (iii) Proliferation. This made a lot of sense on two fronts. First, it corresponded to the key phases of building and running a successful startup. Second, the content was very concise, and makes for easy reference in the future.
Depending on where you are in your startup journey, different parts of the book may stand out to you more than others. For a newbie like me, the whole book was filled with gems. That said, here are my top three takeaways!
1. Great entrepreneurial ventures are born by asking and addressing simple questions 2. Focus on the adoption in the early days of the startup, worry about scalability later. 3. Launch when conditions are good enough; the "perfect" conditions will never arrive
Takeaway #1 – Great startups are born by asking and addressing simple questions
“The genesis of great companies is answering simple questions that change the world.”GUY KAWASAKI
I’ve always thought that to run a successful startup, we’ll always need to have groundbreaking ideas to solve complex problems. This meant asking the difficult questions and answering them with complicated technical solutions. As it turns out, many of the biggest companies today merely expanded on really simple questions.
Take Google for example; Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin simply wanted to “organize the world’s information”. How about Grab and Uber? They just wanted to make it easier for people to get from point A to point B. Even Amazon started out as an online marketplace for books.
In the book, Guy Kawasaki suggests that we ask simple questions to better understand the “why” behind creating our startups. You’ll never know when this might be the genesis of some of the greatest products ever produced. Some examples include:
- “Therefore, what?” – Dive into the cause-and-effect relationship of your startup’s offering and the value it brings to its customers
- “Isn’t this interesting?” – Innovative ideas can come from unexpected places, so always keep an open mind
- “Is there a better way?” – Born out of frustration of existing processes, value can also be offered by providing a better alternative to doing things
- “Why doesn’t our company do this?” – When you feel like your current employer or organization is unable or unwilling to address the actual needs of their target audience
Takeaway #2 – Startups should focus on adoption over scalability in their early days
“Don’t worry, be crappy.”GUY KAWASAKI
In my limited exposure to startups and entrepreneurs within my social circle, there’s always that recurring question, “will it scale?” A lot of startups tend to fixate on getting their product across the chasm as soon as possible. A common reason behind this is that many entrepreneurs regard this as a key measure of success for their startups.
However, the mass market isn’t always overly-enthusiastic about new, cutting-edge offerings. Instead, they are often resistant to change, only making the switch when they absolutely have to. It is thus important to understand that for anything to scale, their products must be adopted by real customers first.
Enter the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). MVPs allow startups to validate their assumptions with the least amount of resources possible, allowing them to get valuable market feedback early. It also lets them test their business model with a smaller set of audience; think back to the concept of the Smallest Viable Audience in Seth Godin’s This Is Marketing. (I’ve shared my top takeaways from this amazing book here!)
By starting small, startups will be able to get the important feedback they need early on to iterate and improve on their products. Every iteration should then bring them closer to mass adoption, one customer at a time.
Takeaway #3 – Launch when the conditions are good enough
“Don’t wait for perfection. Good enough is good enough, there is time for refinement later.”Guy Kawasaki
Uncertainty is the name of the game for any startup or entrepreneurial venture. Personally, I always seem to have more questions than answers as I developed my idea further. What if my assumptions are wrong? Are the findings from my observations representative of the broader population? Will my product really appeal to the needs of the market?
What I’ve learnt thus far is to not be a perfectionist. The best way to get the answers we seek is to put the MVP out there and see where that takes you. Don’t be too concerned if the product isn’t perfect and it’s full of bugs. Dare to experiment and validate your learnings early on. Who knows, you might just discover that the feature you think will be a miss with the crowd will actually turn out to be a complete hit!
The most important thing here is to embrace an open mind and enjoy the journey of iteration and improvements. By collecting feedback directly from the market, you’ll have the firsthand insights to push your product closer to what the market desires.
Think about the early-generations of the iPhone or Google’s search engine – were they perfect and full of the features that have become so integral to our lives today? Look how far they’ve come after countless cycles of iterations!
As I mentioned earlier, this book is full of learnable ideas and actionable insights; I’ll definitely regard this book as the bible for startups! Almost everything I read felt like an important takeaway, but maybe that’s just because of my inexperience in this area.
I really like how every chapter is organised around a specific area of establishing a startup. Because of the way no-frills nature of the writing, the book was also able to cover a wide range of topics. These span across launching, bootstrapping, funding, pitching, marketing, team- building, and many more! I thus found it very easy to refer to the text to clear any doubts and questions. I highly recommend that every entrepreneur should have this book at their disposal to increase their chances of success!
Share your thoughts with me!
If you’ve read The Art of the Start 2.0 by Guy Kawasaki, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. Drop a comment below, or share this post with your friends with the tag @kopi.thoughts on Instagram or @kopithoughts on Twitter!