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Book Review – Guy Kawasaki’s “The Art of The Start”

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While going through a startup struggle, writing a review for this book has been immensely challenging as this turns out to be my first book review. However, the beauty of this book is that it has motivated and guided me to complete crucial phases of my startup as I read through it.

The GIST of this book is that it’s about the PURPOSE of everything an entrepreneur experiences in building a successful startup. This book is clearly exclusive as it is written to address key issues of entrepreneurship for many reasons briefed below.

Guy Kawasaki has used his expertise on this subject from various aspects of his career being an evangelist, an entrepreneur & a venture capitalist. This gives Kawasaki the perfect leverage to attract and give the reader an interactive experience.

One main reason for success of this book has been the precision in identifying and sequencing phases of a startup. Discussed below are some of the most notable elements of the important phases.

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-          Causation is the starting point of entrepreneurship. The entrepreneur is helpless at this stage and often gets in to hasty conclusions to prove what he/she believes is correct. This chapter provides guidance to rigorously question and clarify the purpose of initiating a startup.Kawasaki continues to prove his mastery practicality by highlighting the importance of stepping in to the executing phase while planning for long term. Simultaneously there is focus on launching a prototype along with building your Mantra.

-          Articulation is undoubtedly the bitterest phase of a startup for any entrepreneur,and is often rushed through. As a result, most good startup concepts fail and never take off. In this chapter the venture capitalist in Kawasaki takes a different approach compared to accepted norms.Kawasaki engages the reader closely by diving into tactical aspects of positioning, pitching & planning. Practicing the concepts of “10/20/30 Rule”and“Answering the little man”mentioned under this chapter, guides the reader to smoothly cross through the Articulation phase.

-          Activation is the phase that an action biased entrepreneur is anxious to achieve. This is also widely known as the toughest phase of a startup. In this 40 page chapter, whilst emphasizing on the truth of making ideas happen, Kawasaki reinstates the saying;“It’s not about the idea, it’s about making the idea happen”. Building bottom up forecasts, shipping before testing, making money through your Mantra and making recruitment a daily practice could be some of the most valuable lessons a reader would learn.

-          As the startup moves to next levels, gaining acceptance (market & internal) becomes a key driver for success. Therefore the chapters of Proliferation & Obligation are focused on this element. Tactics for building a brand and identifying opportunities for rainmaking are discussed comprehensively while making connections to interesting concepts through other sources.

The above reasons are only a minor contribution to the success of Kawasaki’s book. However, following are the main reasons readers and entrepreneurs alike are drawn to this book making it a phenomenal success.

-          Entrepreneurs by nature are casual and informal people. They rarely follow manuals and procedures.As an entrepreneur himself, Kawasaki has applied this informality in his writing to display an authentic feel of the different phases of startups. Each heading/sub heading of this book is constructed in an informative and advisory format.Through this Kawasaki ensures the reader remembers the key messages.

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-          Entrepreneurship is about making mistakes. Gradually those mistakes turn out to be the very reasons for the success of a startup. At the beginning of each heading, Kawasaki has highlighted all mistakes that startups do before contrasting it with the right means to go out tasks. This approach is far more effective in comparison to dishing out the right methods to readers.

-          Many books provide exercise pauses for the reader to think through and action relevant tasks.This is often skipped and never revisited. However, the distinctiveness and practicality of points laid and appropriateness in selecting exercises convinces the reader to complete those.

-          Frequently Avoided Questions is one of the favorite elements of this book. The reader would find appropriate answers for questions which are ignored by their advisers and most importantly new questions shaped to provide food for thought. rating

-          One may question whether this book is being intended only for small startups. The answer is No. Guy Kawasaki brings in his real life experience of working at Apple Inc. to unveil some valuable thoughts on how to nurture startups within large corporations. This is rarely found in traditional books on entrepreneurship.

In conclusion, this book deserves a ranking of 4 out of 5 for above mentioned reasons.However, more real world startup examples in relation to specific topics discussed would have been a value addition.

Reading “The Art of The Start” should definitely be Part of The Start – Ruzan Ahamed

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