I recently attended a presentation by Guy Kawasaki, author of “The Art of the Start,” at the new Martin Luther King Jr. Library in San Jose. His presentation was organized around the thought of entrepreneurship.
Mr. Kawasaki is an experienced business professional working at Apple for several years and starting many successful businesses. He now runs his own VC firm searching for new talented entrepreneurs. In fact, he provided his audience with a look into what he feels are the 10 steps entrepreneurs must take to be successful.
Step 1: Make meaning, not money
This is a very important distinction and should be the basis for any starting company. Entrepreneurs must solve a solution, which will improve our quality of life. This is a perfect foundation for a company as they begin to dive into the consumer world and create services/products. In fact, this is part of knowing your consumer and knowing what they need. This will draws on the basics of marketing and business, yet some are more focused on making money that they forget about providing products/services that add value and increase our quality of life.
Step 2: Make a “mantra”
What is a mantra? Usually a mantra consists of 3 to 4 words that explain the meaning of your company. This should be easy enough to understand for all employees and should be the “mission” of your company. Mr. Kawasaki clearly does not like mission statements and has some valid points. In fact, during his presentation he displayed the follow, Wendy’s mission statement:
“The mission of Wendy’s is to deliver superior quality products and services for our customers and communities through leadership, innovation, and partnerships.”
He asked the question…"When you go into Wendy’s do you feel that you are participating in leadership, innovation and partnerships?” I don’t, do you? So, he says Wendy’s should create a mantra, something like this: “healthy fast food.”
Here are some good examples he gave:
Federal Express: “Peace of mind”
Nike: “Authentic athletic performance”
Target: “Democratize design”
Step 3: Get going (create a revolution!)
The entrepreneurs should build a prototype and follow these three steps:
- *Think Differently
- *Polarize People
- *Find a few soul mates (3) to establish a business with
Step 4: Define a business model
- * Be specific (Who is your customer? What are you doing? How? Why? )
- *Keep it simple (nothing fancy and to the point)
- *Ask women (ha ha ha! He suggests that women can provide an alternate view that men did not think of)
Step 5: Weave a MAT
- Milestones – “finish the design”
- Assumptions – “sales calls/day, customer ROI”
- Tasks – “rent an office, perform a task to complete a milestone and test an assumption”
He suggested that several entrepreneurs make the mistake of focusing on the unimportant tasks of creating and maintaining a business, rather than on the Milestones. This is very important should be taken seriously by all. “Weaving a MAT” will keep a company on track and focused on their business model and ultimately their true meaning for providing solutions to their customers.
Step 6: Build a product that is unique and of high value (i.e. Fandango)
He suggested that several companies start off on two spectrums of a scale: either by creating a unique product and service with little value to the customer or creating a product that offers value but is not unique.
So, entrepreneurs must strive to create a product that is BOTH unique and of high value to the customer…his example is Fandango. Why? Fandango offers the convenience of printing tickets at home, skipping the ticket lines at movie theatres, and saving time. This is especially true for parents with children…he exemplified the “pain” of taking his kids to the movies and not being able to see the movie due to a sold out crowd. BUT, this would not happen if he used Fandango. GENIOUS! Haha.
Step 7: Follow the 10/20/30 Rule
This is important not only to entrepreneurs, but to ALL. Here is how the rule works out:
- *The optimal number of slides for a PPT presentation is 10
- *The amount of time the presenter should speak is 20 minutes (allow 40 minutes for Q&A)
- *The best font size is 30 (basically just divide the mean age of the audience by 2…*that was his joke* hahaha)
- Read more from Guy about his 10/20/30 Rule
Step 8: Hire Effective People
A company needs people who love the product and want to do the job right. This creates a specific atmosphere that is ready for success. Not to mention, people who love the product probably are not too focused on making money and instead want to make meaning.
In addition, he introduced a rule of thumb: higher better than yourself. This is plain and simple, if you consider yourself an “A” player, higher an “A+” player.
Lastly, apply the “shopping center” test. Ask yourself one question, if you say this person at the mall would you 1) go up to him/her and introduce yourself, 2) wait to see if you run into that person, or 3) go out the nearest exit and leave the mall? Well, you should want to go up to that person and introduce yourself…if not than that person is NOT the right candidate for the job.
Step 9: Lower the barriers to adoption
A company should make it easy for others to adopt a product. Yes, the product can be a breakthrough and solve all of our problems but if we need a PhD to use it, then it is worthless. This again relates to knowing your customer’s needs and wants. I cannot emphasize this enough…knowing your customer is key…consumer research is key. Another important factor is to embrace your Evangelists.
Step 10: Seed the Clouds
Enable test drives and find the influencers. You need to create the product for the influencers, the IT managers, the Web Managers who NEED the product or service. These are the people who face the day-to-day problems and the people who will make the difference. Enable them to test drive your products and provide feedback.
BONUS! Step 11: Be a Mensch
There are three characteristics of mensch:
- *Help all people, even if they cannot help you (the pleasure of helping)
- *Do the right thing, the right way
- *Understand you have a moral obligation to society and pay back to society
- Read more from Guy about "How to be a Mensch"
Overall this presentation was very interesting and fun. If you would like more information about Guy Kawasaki, please visit: www.blog.guykawasaki.com
Also, I am open to any of your comments and/or suggestions. So, what do you say?