Let me preface this review by saying that I realize I am the nth person to comment on this book. I am also what many would consider a “practicing serial entrepreneur.” While I make no claims to be a start-up expert, I have founded four businesses in the past 10 years and have experienced everything from pitching business ideas to major brands and strategic partners to raising large sums of investor capital. All this to say that I hope you find my review useful coming from one who has significant experience starting things.
While The Art of the Start did not (and didn’t intend to) present any new or revolutionary concepts, it did something for me that other start-up books haven’t done. Kawasaki focuses on one of the great challenges entrepreneurs face (starting something) and compiles all of the essential concepts for success in one concise, easy-to-read handbook. He not only covers the basics of business (such as how to pitch, how to hire staff, etc.), but he also addresses such ideals as character and integrity, topics that are difficult to teach but are some of the most crucial elements for success in any business environment. Many startup business books address topics such as raising capital and writing your business plan, but few zero in on the importance of human relationships and emotional intelligence in the entrepreneurial process. The problem is that, by neglecting such issues early on, we risk being too oriented on the forest to see the trees and our business and leadership suffers as a result.
I consider this book a manual for start-up success that combines the human relationship skills of Dale Carnegie (link) and the business savvy skills of Jack Welch (link) from the perspective of a guy (no pun intended – link) who might understand the entrepreneurial process better than anyone.
The book’s chapters are as follows:
- Pitching (great information)
- Business Plan (great information)
- Recruiting (great chapter)
- Finding investors
- Being a good person, or a “Mensch”
Key excerpts from the book
- “There are few tasks that face an entrepreneur that are more enjoyable than recruiting employees to a hot start-up.”
- “Organizations are successful because of good implementation, not good business plans.”
- “If you don’t terminate people who aren’t working out, you increase the probability of having to lay off people who are.”
- “Like the Holy Grail, the business plan remains largely unattainable and mythological.”
- “If you ever want to understand what God thinks of money, look at who He gives it to.”
These points make it crystal clear that Guy Kawasaki gets it. Each idea is one that I have learned through first hand experience over the years and is the reason the book resonates with me so much. I plan to continually revisit and review this book as an integral part of my business library. You should have it as well (most of you probably do).
DDay Rating – 5 out of 5 stars (for nailing all the topics that matter when starting anything)