The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki

The Art of the Start is a book released by Guy Kawasaki in 2006. Guy also has an excellent blog focussing on issues faced by start-ups. A recent post is particularly interesting:The Top Ten Stupid Ways to Hinder Market Adoption which contains 14 points to avoid if you want to make your web site or service user friendly. There are a couple of things I’m definitely going to have to look at!

I bought his book last year and, taking my copy off the bookshelf, I found it to be stuffed full of pink post-it notes. Here are some of the things that grabbed my attention along the way:

POLARIZE PEOPLE: When you create a product or service that some people love, don’t be surprised when others hate you. Your goal is to catalyze passion – pro or anti. Don’t be offended if people take issue with what you’ve done; the only result that should offend (and scare) you is lack of interest.

I have to say that is a sentiment I whole heartedly go along with and found this with trymehere when I have shown it to some people. One well known analyst said “I wouldn’t be seen dead using it”, while another said that it “solved one of his daily problems”!

[When asking colleagues about what they think of your service] My final tip is that you ask Women. My theory is that deep in the DNA of men is a ‘killer’ gene. This gene expresses itself by making men want to kill people, animals, and plants. To a large degree, society has repressed this gene… Hence, asking a man about a business model is useless because every business model looks good to someone with the Y chromosome… Women by contrast do not have this killer gene. Thus, they are much better judges of the viability of a business model than men are.

Well, I started doing this a little bit last year but the jury is still out for me. However, it feels right!

PICK A NAME WITH “VERB POTENTIAL.” In a perfect world, your name enters the mainstream vernbacular and becomes a verb. For example people “xerox” documents – as opposed to photocopy. Names that work are short and not tongue twisters.

I particularly like this thought because it lets you use the company name in interesting ways in text describing your service. Although I wouldn’t propose this as an ideal example, a web service called ConnectMeAnywhere is quite an appealing name. Another is GoToMyPC .

These requirements [talking about bootstrapping a business] point to products, services and target markets with the following characteristics:

  • People already know, or it becomes immediately obvious, that they need your product or service. You don’t have to educate your potential customers about their pain.
  • Your product or service is “auto-persuasive.” That is, once people recognize their pain an how your solve i, they can persuade themselves to take the next step and buy what you’re offering.

This is a good aim but very challenging to realise, but it does show that articulating the industry pain you are solving is very important not only to potential investors in your business , but also transparently to potential customers.

Well, that’s just a few of my pink post-it notes and all the others indicate points that are just as stimulating. If you are open to new ideas then reading this book will enevitably trigger some new activities! Go to it!

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