The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki in 4 minutes

If you liked these notes, buy the book on Amazon.

Chapter 1: The Art of Starting

The best reason to start a business (or anything, for that matter) is to “make meaning” — making the world a better place — by doing something along these lines:

  • Increase the quality of life.
  • Right a wrong.
  • Prevent the end of something good.

Get going! Planning isn’t a bad thing, but you will be more successful if you start doing. It’s difficult to start, but get out there and start writing to code, talking to users, or whatever else.

Think big — you won’t change the world by being ‘medium’.

Polarize people— make something people either love, or hate.

All startups must face these seven milestones:

  1. Prove your concept
  2. Complete your design specifications
  3. Create a prototype
  4. Finance yourself (raising capital or some other means)
  5. Ship a beta
  6. Ship the real thing
  7. Break even in terms of money

Weave a MAT — Milestones, Assumptions, Tasks.

Write down a list of assumptions that you are making about the business, and keep track of them. See if they’re true or whether things need correcting.

Tasks are the actual things that need doing from day to day to make the milestones happen.

Chapter 3: The Art of Pitching

Follow the 10/20/30 rule for presentations: 10 slides, 20 minutes, 30 point font

  • No matter how smart you think you are, or how good your idea, stick to the 10/20/30 guideline.
  • If you think that’s not enough slides, you can prepare backup slides, but don’t go into them unless the audience specifically requests further information in a particular area.
  • The 30 point font rule is for people who try to work around the 10-slide rule by cramming a lot of information into each slide.

Shut up, take notes, & follow-up

  • Listen to feedback and apply it to your next pitch.
  • Taking notes says: “I think you’re smart, what you’re saying is worth writing down, and I’m willing to learn.”
  • Following-up separates the real from the fakes.

Chapter 5: The Art of Bootstrapping

  • Set and communicate goals — define roles and accountabilities, designate people responsible for specific goals, measure the execution of them every 30 days, and praise execution.
  • Pay attention to reality — Find someone with years of operating experience who can make the tough decisions, like firing.
  • Establish a culture of execution — Reward the achievers.

Chapter 6: The Art of Recruiting

It takes a team to make something work — find some other people to work with.

  • Hire “infected” people who love your product and are passionate about the problem you’re solving.
  • Hire better than yourself, because if you hire people that aren’t, they will in turn hire people worse than them, and so on.
  • A startup needs kamikazes who work long hours, implementers who turn their work into infrastructure, and operators who upkeep the infrastructure.

Minichapter #1: The Art of Schmoozing

  • Ask good questions then shut up — don’t dominate conversation, start interesting conversations with people, then listen.
  • Follow up— within 24 hours of meeting someone send an e-mail or call. So few people ever follow up the ones that do are clearly special and worth knowing.
  • Unveil your passions— if you can talk only about your business, you are boring.
  • Read voraciously — if you have no passions at least read voraciously.
  • Give favours, return favours, and ask for the return of favours — karma is real, give and return favours with joy, and (though it may seem counter-intuitive), but ask for favours in return.

Minichapter #2: The Art of Using E-mail

  • Fix your subject line — for example, “Following-up our meeting” works well.
  • Always answer within 24 hours— keep it fresh.
  • But wait when you hate— when you’re angry or offended delay the response beyond 24 hours.
  • Keep is short and simple —remove the fluff and get into it.
  • Include a good signature — provide name, phone number, web site etc.

Chapter 9: The Art of Branding

Lower the barriers to adoption.

  1. Flatten the learning curve.
  2. Make it easy to switch from competitors to your product, but also make it easy to switch away.
  3. Don’t ask people to do something you wouldn’t.

Foster a Community

As far as return on investment, building a community is the cheapest way to create and maintain a brand, so

  1. Don’t wait for a community to form on its own.
  2. Embrace your evangelists. Assign tasks, keep communication open, give them the required tools, respond to their desires, and reward them.
  3. Hire someone whose sole purpose is to foster a community.
  4. Integrate the presence of the community into your sales and marketing efforts and your online presence.

Achieve humanness and be personal.

  1. Target the young.
  2. Make fun of yourself.
  3. Help the undeserved and underprivileged.
  4. Feature your customers.

Chapter 11: The Art of Being a Mensch

The three foundations of menschhood are: (1) helping lots of people, (2) doing what’s right, and (3) paying back society.

  • A mensch does the right thing, not the easy thing, the expedient thing, or the money-saving thing.
  • The kind of gains a Mensch seeks is paying back society (for good health, family, friends, fulfillment and success), not reaping additional money.
  • A mensch pays back for goodness already received, as opposed to paying it forward, in expectation of return.

Again, if you like these notes, do buy the book on Amazon. If you want to be a highlighting hero, send your book notes to

My name is Blake, I live in Toronto, Canada and I’m working on Pluto.