I’ve just finished another book I’m adding to my list of favorites. The Art of The Start by Guy Kawasaki. Guy gets right to the point of what really matters and he’s entertaining.
For example, his chapters end with FAQs and his final FAQ of the final chapter was:
Q. People are always asking me for my expert advice, but it’s interfering with my ability to get my current job done. What should I do?
A. Write a book and tell everyone to buy it.

I laughed and laughed imagining how many ask him for advice.

Well, here’s my attempt at a capture and reference for the future:

How do I get a start up going?

Central Message:
Simply define what it is you’re doing (in less than 10 words) and focus, focus, focus on those things that will propel it forward and cut out anything that won’t. Most importantly, start doing.

The art of starting
Things that matter:

  1. Make meaning – make the world a better place with your product or service.
  2. Make mantra – forget mission statements and take your meaning and make mantra out of it.
  3. Get going – create and sell your product or service and don’t spend time on business plans, writing and pitching.
  4. Define your business model – create a sustainable business model that’s already been proven.
  5. Weave a mat (milestones, assumptions and tasks) – for staying on track when everything goes nuts, which it will.

Excercise: If FamilyLearn didn’t exist the world would be worse off because of family stories lost.
Mantra: The heart of life.
Business Excercise:

  1. Calculate your monthly costs to operate your organization.
  2. Calculate the gross profit of each unit of your product.
  3. Divide the results of step 1 by the results of step 2.
  4. Ask a few women if they think you have a chance of selling that many units. If they don’t, you don’t have a business model.

LOL, hilarious but so true.

Most important milestones:


Major tasks (not as critical as milstones):

The art of positioning:

What do you do?
FamilyLearn: We help you record and share family stories. (dry, but it’s what we do. I’m sure there’s a better way to say it)

Niche thyself!
Make a name that can be a verb. Google it.
FamilyLearn it. Ok, we blew that one, but oh well.

Don’t start into an auto-biography! Sorry Paul, you were one of my first victims on that one. I’m learning.
10/20/30 Rule
10 slides
20 minutes
30 pt font text

Guy gives a great presentation format:

Slide 1: Title and contact stuff
Slide 2: Pain/ Problem
Slide 3: Solution
Slide 4: Business model
Slide 5: Secret sauce or magic in your product or service
Slide 6: Marketing and sales – how to market without breaking the bank?
Slide 7: Competition
Slide 8: Management team
Slide 9: Financial projections and key metrics
Slide 10: Current status, Accomplishments to date, Timeline, and Use of Funds

Slide 1: Title and contact stuff
Slide 2: Pain/ Problem
Slide 3: Solution
Slide 4: Current customers, clarity on the value
Slide 5: Secret sauce or magic in your product or service
Slide 6: Demo
Slide 7: Competition – why you’re good
Slide 8: Management team – make them feel comfortable buying with a start up
Slide 9: Trial period or test installation

Slide 1: Title and contact stuff
Slide 2: Pain/ Problem
Slide 3: Solution
Slide 4: Partnership model
Slide 5: Secret sauce or magic in your product or service
Slide 6: Demo
Slide 7: Competition (optional)
Slide 8: Management team
Slide 9: Next steps

Upon starting, ask:
“How much time may I have?”
“What are the most important things I can communicate to you?” (do as much of this in advance as possible)
“May I quickly go through the presentation and handle questions at the end? However, please feel free to interrupt me if you need to.”

Let them fantasize about the potential of your product or service.
Shut up and take notes, summarize, regurgitate and follow up!

Pitch constantly. Rewrite constantly.

The art of writing a business plan:
You have to have a plan. Focus on the executive summary. Pitch, then plan. Make it just like your pitch.
1. Clean, no more than 20 pages. Less is more.
2. One person should write the entire plan.
3. A staple, no fancy stuff.
4. Financial projections to two pages.
5. Key metrics.
6. Assumptions that drive your financial projections.

The art of bootstrapping:
Manage for cash flow, not profitability. Choose an auto-persuasive product.
Build a bottom up forcast. Each salesperson can make ten sales per day, there are 240 working days…
Ship, then test. Get it to the market.
Forget the proven team and go with energy and inexperience that believes in what you’re doing.
Start as a service business.
Focus on function, not form.
Pick your battles. Make money from your magic. Margins!
Go direct. Stay close to the customer. No multi-tiered stuff. You have to sell, not fill demand.
Position against the leader.
Take the “red pill.” Reality checks. Honesty with yourself.
Get a morpheus. Realist in the organization.
Understaff and outsource.
Build a board.
Sweat the big stuff. Pay for the stuff that matters rather than saving pennies.

The art of recruiting:
Hire “A” players.
Hire “infected people”
Ignore irrelevant.
Use all your tools. Board, connections, etc.
Wait to compensate.
Double check your intuition. Would you avoid them when shopping?
Reference check. If they send you to a desk of a secretary, bad sign.


“The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.” –Samuel Johnson
Successful businesses and being good to the world are not opposing forces.
“There are few joys greater than helping others.” –Guy
Interesting note, he speaks in the last chapter of theories where there are different “classes” in Heaven.
I wonder if he was thinking of the 3 Degrees of Glory as one of those theories? Maybe I’ll ask him.

I’ve been using Reliable, Affordable Business Hosting from Bluehost.com. and I’ve really been impressed by it. The combine an excellent admin system with ssh and all the other features I could want. There customer service has been not only responsive but technically competent.

I loved this article on the symbolism of the olive and olive oil.

One man’s experience with Warren Buffet, the world’s greatest investor.

MSN just removed the beta from their search site and I must say that they’ve put together an impressive package. Ask it a question. When did world war II begin? It answers and gives you relevant webpages below the answer. Their search builder will help a novice create complicated queries that I only could do with Google after reading Google Hacks and acquiring tons of experience.