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Technopreneurship: Book Review, The Art of the Start

The Art of the Start 2.0

the Time-Tested, Battle Hardened Guide for Anyone

by Guy Kawasaki

The Art of the Start: the Time-Tested, Battle Hardened Guide for Anyone written by Guy Kawasaki is a guide for anyone wants to start any business. This book delivers Guy’s formula on how to build a startup company from idea to concept to business model up to execution. It tells readers about what entrepreneurs do and do not. The book consists of four different sections: Conception, Activation, Proliferation, and Obligation with thirteen chapters on it. In each chapter featured by GIST, exercise, mini chapter, addenda for FAQ, and recommended reading. These features enrich the content and distinguished it from other conventional book.

The first chapter of the book, The Art of Starting Up, highlights the GIST (Great Ideas for Starting Things). It explains the most essential parts an entrepreneur must accomplish in starting a startup. The ideas are answer simple questions, find sweet spot, find soul mates, make meaning, make mantra, pick a business model, weave a MATT (Milestones, Assumptions, Tests, and Tasks), keep things clean and simple, and do something cling worthy. The point of this chapter is forming the DNA of the startup, and this genetic code is permanent. In other words, the concept made in this stage will be the foundation of the startup.

In the second section of the book, Kawasaki goes further into startup activation. He explains in details about launching – new beginning of startup’s activation. Last decades, product launch was a determinant of the startup future. It was costly, so if it is unsuccessful, the startup might be bankrupt. Unlike today, technologies give advantages to entrepreneurs launch their product with low cost until no cost. Kawasaki supports the fact that entrepreneurs can just launch the product for free now by using social media. However, these entrepreneurs still need to take it serious by making preparation before the launching. Good entrepreneurs do positioning and targeting to the segmented market. Besides having launching in the activation process, Kawasaki writes four more arts of starting covered leading, bootstrapping, fund-raising, and pitching.

Continuing to the next section, the book provides full-package of advice and action items in relation with the proliferation. Kawasaki gives guidelines on building a team, evangelizing, socializing, rainmaking, partnering, and enduring.  It is essential for entrepreneurs to build a team in purpose to running the startup and facing big challenges. The main task is looking for the most effective candidates who believe in the startup and can do what it needs. Besides, these candidates must be likeable and trustworthy rather than having perfect background. Kawasaki also adds up useful tips on partnering like as: partner for “spreadsheet” reasons for the sake of financial forecast, cut win-win deals and get out of the belly – being stuck in partnering with big organization.

The last section of this book presents The Art of Being a Mensch explaining about how to achieve menschhood. This is the stage when an entrepreneur is recognized, by the people, as someone who are ethical, graceful and admirable. It is the highest form of commend and the pinnacle of a career. Kawasaki aspires entrepreneurs to a higher goal than making lots of money and building a large organization. Being an entrepreneur does not mean tell people what to do, buy nice stuff or travel to fun places. Good entrepreneurs create cool stuff, sell it and help people use it, hire people to help and build a company. Getting that far, entrepreneurs do something they love. They have a vision to give people a good life and make the world a better place. When they succeed, they do their obligation, repay the society, help many people and do what’s right.

One of the strengths of this book is the ability of the author to go off-topic and then return. Kawasaki is capable of delivering his proven business wisdom in accessible terms and with plentiful illustrative examples. He goes smoothly from one topic to the other topics, and explains it chronologically with insertion of story and illustration. The example of Get a Morpheus on The Art of Leading chapter is a very creative illustration. People know Morpheus is the character who delivered truth in Matrix movie. As well as in the movie, organization needs Morpheus as the one who is telling the right things to do. Morpheus, as Kawasaki says, acts as the expert who tells good or bad. This expert is needed to ensure that entrepreneurs realize when they are in denial just in case the denial is damaging the organization.

Informative and details are the second strength of this book. These plus point is shown in the part of The Art of Pitching. The reading in this chapter opens the eye of entrepreneurs to be aware of tiny details before and during the pitching. For instance, before doing pitch presentation, entrepreneurs must be prepared: bring own projector (anticipate if there is no projector in the pitching room), bring two laptops loaded up with the presentation materials (prevent the situation where the laptop run out of battery), bring two VGA adapters, copy of presentation on USB drive, and bring printouts of presentation materials in case all devices are not working. During the pitching, entrepreneurs should set the stage (prevent interruption), introduce self in the sixth minute (avoid the presentation becomes narration of autobiography), and master the points. Those all things rarely come up to entrepreneurs’ mind, and this book describes it clearly.

Another excellence of the book lies on how Kawasaki delivers the topic using straightforward approach. He keeps things simple, honest, and short. The acronyms like GIST, MATT and DICEE helps reader reminding the main points. This book might be ultimate entrepreneurship handbook, even if it is lack of theory background or statistics data. Kawasaki admits that some part of this book have less data to support the idea. For example, when he gives list of how to achieve humanness in The Art of Evangelizing chapter, Kawasaki says to target the young. No matter who buys the product, targeting young people forces entrepereneur  to build a human brand. He has no data to back this up, but assumes that lots of people are buying products that targeted to the young. So, it is up to readers to agree or disagree on the idea.

Instead of giving utopia or ideal world of startup, this book reveals major mistakes that entrepreneurs do in building a startup such as feeling compelled to write a business plan or telling lies in pitching. Based on Kawasaki’s list of Top Ten Lies of Entrepreneurs, when an entrepreneur says, “All we have to do is get one percent of the market.” It is what venture capitalists call the Chinese Soda Lie. It seems like mission impossible where entrepreneurs must make one percent of people in China drink their soda while competing with existing big company. Then, the venture capitalists will response with other common lies such as, “I liked your company, but my partners didn’t.” Or, “Show us some traction, and we’ll invest.” Those sentences are soft-rejection from investor, simply as they say “No” to the entrepreneurs.

In short, The Art of the Start 2.0 is a must-read book for anyone considering starting up a startup. Through this book, the author, Kawasaki focuses primarily on the venture capital approach to entrepreneur. The book covers topics like positioning startup in the market, pitching to potential investors, creating ideal business plan and presentation, bootstrapping, recruiting employees, raising capital, partnering with other firms, branding, and selling the concept to the market. It teaches readers about business that MBA programs don’t and helps them to understand the content easily.

After all, I like this book for giving me out-of-my-box idea on how to starting a startup. It widens my understanding of the reality in business world. Focusing on The Art of the Start helps me save valuable time and energy for things that will actually move myself towards my entrepreneurial goals. My motivation to start a startup is boosting after reading the book. I realized that being entrepreneur does not mean being a rich guy with big company who can do everything. In contrast, being entrepreneur means being ethical person who wants to help people and changes the world. Other thing I learned from this book is the fact of A rank will employee A+ rank. It has opened my eye that CEO is not always the best staff in the organization. The truth is a wise CEO will employ a better person than him in the team.


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