Guy Kawasaki and I have had our paths cross many times as entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and at Apple before that, so it’s been great fun watching him translate the lessons he learned as the high-profile evangelist at Apple Computer (think a pre-blogging version of Microsoft’s Robert Scoble and you’d have an idea of what Guy was doing to help the Macintosh change the world) into his successful Garage Technology Ventures (formerly known as “Garage.com”), an early stage startup incubator.
Much of the very best of his thinking and expertise in identifying the essence of what makes a startup business succeed has been captured in The Art of the Start, a succinct, engaging, and amusing handbook that I recommend to all entrepreneurs, whether you’re still in the proverbial garage, or whether you’re trying to produce a revolution within a larger organization.
I think the most important thing about The Art of the Start is that it’s not just for people starting up a business, but rather for everyone who is starting in a new direction. The chapters illuminate my point: they’re all The Art of something, and that “something” is, in order:
- Writing a Business Plan
- Raising Capital
- Being a Mensch
If there’s not something in that list for your business — or two or three — then I fear you either aren’t actually in business, or aren’t going to be for very long.
One of the longest chapters in the book is The Art of Raising Capital, which shouldn’t be much of a surprise given Guy’s role at Garage Technology Ventures. In that chapter, as with all chapters, it starts out with what I’ll call an executive summary and what he calls the GIST of the chapter. For this one, the gist is:
“This chapter explains the process of raising capital from outside investors. These investors may be venture capitalists, management, foundations, government entities, or any of the three Fs: friends, fools and family.
“My experience is with the Silicon Valley venture capital industry, a group from which you may never try to get an investment. However, if you can raise capital from a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, you can raise capital from anyone. As the Frank Sinatra song goes, “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.”
“Skillful pitching, which we covered earlier, is a necessary, but not sufficient, part of raising capital. More important are the realities of your organization: Are you building something meaningful, long-lasting and valuable to society?”
A fun tip too: when you get a chance to look at this book (even in a bookstore) make sure you carefully pull off the dust jacket and look inside: there are seventy alternative book covers from a competition Guy held at iStockPhoto.com. My favorites include those from Ashley Kennedy, Justin Yoshimura and Erin Lewis.
Having traveled much of the same journey as Guy (even to us both having three kids), a lot of what he talks about in this book is what I talk about here on my Weblog too (and in the business section of Ask Dave Taylor), but it’s constantly surprising to me how few entrepreneurs really understand the world of startups and all the dimensions of what makes a good idea into a really great, growing business. If you need some smart, savvy, and witty advice, then you can’t go wrong with this eminently readable and enjoyable book.
Fair disclosure: I like Guy Kawasaki’s vision of entrepreneurship so much that I asked him to write the foreword for my latest book, Growing Your Business With Google, and he generously assented. So yes, there’s an ostensible conflict of interest with me reviewing his book, but on the other hand, as an evangelist myself, who would you rather have recommending a book than someone who has already long-since recognized both the genius of the book and the tremendous insight of the writer?