It’s been more than ten years since Guy Kawasaki wrote his classic guide to entrepreneurship, The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything, and a lot has changed. We’re in an era dominated by mobile devices, Big Data, and social media. Great ideas no longer have to pass scrutiny by mercenary venture capitalists, because entrepreneurs can go straight to customers with crowdfunding tools like Kickstarter and Indiegogo.

All of these current topics and a lot more are in the greatly revised version, The Art of the Start 2.0.

I recently spoke to Kawasaki about his new book, and he said he was amused when his publishers asked him to simply mark up a copy of the original version in Word.

Instead, Kawasaki did a massive rewrite to encompass the seismic shift in today’s entrepreneurial options. What he ended up with is a blend of time-tested wisdom and up-to-the-minute strategies.

Art of the start 2.0What didn’t change
A good deal of Kawasaki’s advice is evergreen. One of his classics is the Guy Kawasaki Theory of PowerPoint: 10 slides, 20 minutes, 30 point minimum font. According to Kawasaki, “I don’t think 10 years from now we’re going to be saying ‘Why don’t we have 50 slides with a 90 minute meeting and an 8 point font.’ There are some things that just don’t change.”

Every entrepreneur ends up making pitches – to venture capitalists, angel investors, and early customers. Kawasaki has heard thousands of bad pitches, and his down-to-earth advice is based on that experience.

One of his suggestions is that you should be able to make your pitch in twenty minutes. Venture capital pitch meetings are usually scheduled for an hour, but you don’t want to plan to use the whole thing. There should be ample time left for discussion. And, from a purely practical standpoint, you may not get the full hour. Previous meetings can run past their finish time. Even connecting your laptop to the projector can take longer than expected, particularly if, the ex-Apple evangelist notes, you are using a Windows laptop.

Socializing, the Kawasaki Way
Kawasaki has been a force in social media since its early days. Currently, he has nearly 1.5 million Twitter followers and an astounding 6.8 million Google+ followers. His stats are closer to Lady Gaga’s than to yours or mine, but his advice is eminently practical.

For example, both individuals and brands are likely to encounter negativity when interacting on social media. Kawasaki advises that you stay positive and assume that people are good until proven otherwise. He notes that, rather than prolonging an argument, you can agree to disagree. Sometimes a penetrating question will help. And, like an amateur boxing match, Kawasaki says you should limit a fight to three rounds: a commenter’s response to your post, your response to that, and the commenter’s reply. The end.

One of Kawasaki’s recommendations in the book is that companies shouldn’t attempt to outsource social media:

If you hire a digital agency that puts ten people into a “war room” to “measure sentiment” along your “brand ethos” and then needs 45 days to compose a tweet, I have failed you.
-Guy Kawasaki in The Art of the Start 2.0

Even small, entrepreneurial business leaders need to focus on social media themselves. In my conversation with Kawasaki, I asked how an overwhelmed small-business owner should make time for social media with so many critical issues to deal with. He took me to task for the way I put the question, pointing out that social media is at least as important as any other function in the business.

“It’s like saying ‘How do you do the sales thing when you’re busy doing R&D?’ You have to do both,” he commented.

You, too, can evangelize
Guy Kawasaki is often credited with being the father of evangelism marketing. He was Apple’s first brand evangelist, and has served other brands in that capacity. His current project is evangelizing for Canva, a simple, free online graphic creation tool. Here’s an example that I threw together in a few minutes:

guy-canva

In The Art of the Start 2.0, Kawasaki devotes an entire chapter to the art of evangelizing. As in the rest of the book, the advice is practical and straight-forward. He explains how to turn an impersonal message based on statistics into a personal one that resonates with the customer. He has a section titled Learn to Schmooze in which he provides sensible advice on how to connect with people in ways that makes you interesting and likable.

Rocking a Panel
I did a panel at SXSW a couple of days ago. While our panel got great feedback, I heard quite a few comments about panels that had failed to live up to expectations. Clearly, at least few SXSW presenters could have profited from reading Kawasaki’s mini-chapter titled How to Rock a Panel.

As usual, his advice is straightforward, starting with “Know The Subject.” He says it’s important to entertain as well as inform, and suggests picking a (friendly) fight with the moderator or other panelists to keep things lively. Whether it’s the optimal distance between your mouth and the microphone, or how to answer a question to make a bigger point, the advice is actionable and sound.

My favorite bullet point from this section is, “Never say, ‘I agree with the previous panelist.’” That’s where so many panels cause the audience to tune out. Instead of repeating this “dumbass response,” Kawasaki tells panelists to come up with something different or just move on.

The Art of The Start 2.0 is not about hacks or shortcuts that will guarantee overnight success. Rather, it’s a book that’s full of plain-spoken, no-punches-pulled advice.

The 330-page length may seem daunting, but Kawasaki’s easy-going style and frequent injections of humor make the pages fly by.

In short, this book teaches you everything about business that MBA programs don’t.

Whether you are a would-be entrepreneur, a seasoned startup veteran, or even part of a big company, read The Art of The Start 2.0 from cover to cover. You’ll be a better business person, and a better human.

 

http://onforb.es/1wZDECf

James