In this interview, Guy Kawasaki shares insight on how to make it in business and talks about his very popular and insightful business book The Art of the Start. Guy Kawasaki is a managing director of Garage Technology Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm and a columnist for Forbes.com. Previously, he was an Apple Fellow at Apple Computer, Inc. where he was one of the individuals responsible for the success of the Macintosh computer.
Guy is the author of eight books including The Art of the Start, Rules for Revolutionaries, How to Drive Your Competition Crazy, Selling the Dream, and The Macintosh Way. He has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College.
Guy´s widely-read blog serves up must-read business and timely insight on a diverse amount of topics. Guy was kind enough to do this email interview in regard to his amazing book, The Art of the Start.
Q. Hi Guy, thank you for interviewing about your book, The Art of the Start. Your book provides such a wonderful guide to entrepreneurs and people starting out. What inspired you to write it?
A. Honest authors answer this question with one word: “Royalties.” I suppose, though, you want to go deeper than that. There were two reasons: first, I wanted to pass along what I’ve learned about entrepreneurship to the next generation.
Second, I was sick of getting crappy pitches and plans, and I wanted to give people some guidance in order to preserve my sanity.
Q. Do you have three tips you would give to anyone starting a new venture?
A. First, get your pitch down to 10 slides that you can give in 20 minutes with the smallest font as 30 points.
Second, focus on cash flow–as opposed to “building a brand,” “collecting eyeballs,” or “generating paper profits.” Cash is everything.
Third, no matter how “conservative” you think you’re being, your forecast for delivery is off by one year and is one hundred times too optimistic.
Q: And can you talk about “Make Meaning” in the book?
A. Making meaning is the DNA of great companies. The desire to change the world is the purest form of entrepreneurship. If you change the world, you will make money. If you set off to just make money, you probably won’t make meaning nor change the world.
Q: What do you think is the most common misconception that people hold about being successful entrepreneurs?
A. That you have to be smart to be a successful entrepreneur. I think it’s more important that you be lucky.
Q: Why is it so important that if you’re starting out you get people to believe in your dream and how does it empower your venture beyond the bottom line?
A. It’s important because you want to attract like-minded employees who want to
change the world like you do. This is also true externally: if you attract like-minded customers, they turn into evangelists for you.
Q: In your opinion, what are the things that really matter in marketing no matter what the product or service?
A. The most important factor in marketing is that you have a great product or service. After that, everything gets easy.
Q: What is the difference between Make Mantra and just writing a mission statement?
A. About 57 words. A mantra is short–roughly three words. It’s purpose is to explain why the company exists. A mission statement’s purpose is to make the CEO happy.
Q: In thinking about your last chapter section Obligation and the last chapter “The Art of Being A Mensch” reminds me of Viktor Frankel’s Man’s Search for Meaning and his ideas about man having creative values and providing meaning to one’s life by becoming involved. In this day and age we need all the Menschs we can get. How do you define that in your life and how do you feel it should be defined in business?
A. In my life, I try to help organizations that are making the world a better place. I believe that this is my moral obligation. Every business has a similar moral obligation to make the world a better place.
Q: What is a book you’ve read that had a deep impact on you whether it be about business or life’s meaning?
A. The book that freed me to pursue what I wanted to do in life vis a vis writing, speaking, and entrepreneuring is If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland.