The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki – Book Review

The Art of the Start, The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything, offers readers both good news and bad news on starting up a company. The good news offered by Guy Kawasaki rests upon his background as a venture capitalist. Kawasaki is the managing director of Garage Technology Ventures, an early stage venture capital firm. According to their web site, “Garage Technology Ventures is a seed-stage and early-stage venture capital fund. We’re looking to invest in extraordinary entrepreneurs who have the ability to build great teams and great companies.” Thus the good news revolves around strategies to pitch business ideas to venture capitalists, positioning your company, writing a business plan, “making mantra”, etc. These are all important activities and based on sound advice. Kawasaki offers exercises, tidbits and suggestions on redefining thinking in entrepreneurial terms, all helpful to early stage entrepreneurs.

The bad news revolved around bootstrapping and the fact that there was only one chapter on this truly important topic. The Art of the Start seemed slanted toward the “come up with an idea, write the business plan, pitch to venture capitalists, secure early stage venture, increase sales, find additional venture, liquidation event road”. I strongly favor bootstrapping, self funding and virtual business ideas over the borrow tons of venture capital funds to succeed path, and fully understand that reader bias could have crept into this perspective.

If your entrepreneurial idea absolutely requires the significant capitalization that venture capitalists offer, The Art of the Start should definitely be at the top of your list. There is an execellent section on pitching to venture capitalists complete with the questions which are likely to be asked and suggestions on the best answers to offer would be venture investors. I found the book to be well written and thought provoking, particularly enjoying the final chapter, The Art of Being a Mensch (and the three foundations of menschhood), which Kawasaki recommends that the reader reads first. So, the good news is, though there are more aspects to this book than venture funding, you should definitely read this book if you’re thinking of venture capital funding. The bad news is that statistically, entrepreneurs are better off finding alternatives to venture capital funding and might be better off reading books focused on alternatives to venture capital funding. Regardless, I enjoyed The Art of the Start and found it an interesting read.