The Art of the Start 2.0 – Guy Kawasaki

I’m here at the UNSW lecture from Guy Kawasaki.  I’ll be updating this post live online over the next hour.

Kawasaki says that he wants to share top 10 tips for starting the next successful business as a startup.

Lesson 1: Great companies start when founders ask very simple questions.

Audacious goals are great, but they don’t work for startups. You don;’t need a grand designm, but rather a simple question. Questions you might ask are:
– Therefore what? … would be necessary, cool, or possible;
– Isn’t this interesting? … accidents, or failures can be successes in their own right
– Is there a better way? … why can’t we do what we need to do more simply, more easily and more cheaply than current methods.

Lesson 2: Make an MVVVP

It’s not just a matter of making a minimum viable product, but also a valuable product, that’s needed in the market, and a validated product, which reflects the needs of the community, and the perspective of a company’s values.

Lesson 3: Get going

Many would-be entrepreneurs delay making products to solve EVERY problem. You’re far better off to get a product built, even if it’s not perfect. It’s better to have something about which you ill eventually be embarrassed rather than something that is bleeding edge.

You also need to find complimentary soul mates. Complimentary means you don’t need the same skills. Engineers need sales people and vice versa. But you also need soul mates who have the same goals as you for your business. and you need to make a mantra rather than a mission statement – two or three words that explains what you do.

Lesson 4: You need a business model

It’s a cruel world. Know whose money you are trying to get and what their needs are. You need to think about how you can get money from people specifically. How do yoou make yourself attractive to your funder? And you need to keep your business model simple, so that the cost of production is minimised and maximise your ROI

And when it comes to a business model, ask a women. (Hear, hear!) Women tend to build businesses, while men tend to kill their businesses.

Lesson 5: Weave a MATT

A new company is like unmarked ice. Everything is shiny. You get to work on logos, websites, the office etc. Don’t do that. What you should care about is MATT.
M = Milestone. Focus on shipping items.
A = Assumption. Work out the minimum number of clients you are going to attract and work out your financials around that rather than the maximum likely market.
T = Test. Test your product constantly. And revise, revise, revise!
T = Task. EG: Hire an engineer.

Lesson 6: Tell your story

Instead of talking about how fabulous your product is. Think about what your competitors say and say something different about your product.

You also need to get out of the office. If you stay in the office your perspective is very narrow.

Finally when you tell your story apply the 10/20/30 rule – ten slides in 20 minutes at 30 point font.  Also, use a black background with white text. It just looks better.

Lesson 7: Hire effective (and affective) people

You may think you need to hire someone with the perfect background with the perfect experience.  But if you don’t get someone who is passionate about your product is not going to survive. It’s not about the skills, it’s about how much they love your product.

Guy notes his own background in psychology, and his movement into selling jewellery before he moved to Apple, because he loved the products.

You should also hire better than yourself. It takes someone very secure about their ego to do this. It should be a source of pride that the people in your company are better than you.

You should also apply the shopping centre test. If you don’t want to meet that person in a shopping centre, then you shouldn’t hire them. You’re going to get annoyed by them in a startup if you don’t feel you could walk straight up to them in a shopping centre.

Lesson 8: Socialise.

Social media is the best thing that ever happened to entrepreneurs. If you can do social media well, you don’t need to spend much. If you spend a lot on your social media to a digital agency, you get rubbish social media made by people who are more interested in shiny pictures than your product.

Perfect your profiles so they represent you. This means a picture and you are likeable and trustworthy. Your cover photo should also tell the story of your brand.

You should also embrace the pledge model for funding.   You should provide great content so that you have the right to run a pledge drive.  And you should be sharing content that your followers want to reshare your content.

Lesson 9: Seed the clouds

At some level you always have to have sales. Sales fixes everything. Morale is better, recruitment is better, investors like you.

You should make a hundred flowers bloom. If your customers are using your product in unintended ways, you declare victory. You don’t try to control your audience.

You need to enable test drives of your product to ensure people are getting used to (and reliant on) your product.

And you need to find influencers that will support your product and ideas. It’s not a matter of finding people with a large audience necessarily, but their influence in niche communities.

Lesson 10: Don’t let the clowns grind you down

There are two types of loser. One is dressed oddly and doesn’t surf. This loser is not dangerous. The other loser looks amazing, has a lot of money and dresses sharply. This is a dangerous bozo because you might listen to them. What you should do to resist the dangerous bozo, is to get a small taste of them so you can resist them in future. People who write off technologies or cannot envision the need for products or services are people you need to avoid. Dangerous bozos are threatened by the different business curve that new products and services forge. You need to avoid these people because they won’t help your business to develop.

[Guy then tells us the highly amusing story of his own mistake early in his career.  I’ll leave that for people who get to see him in person – really great stuff!]

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