Weekly Business Tips from the Art of the Start

A series of Business Tips from the book:The Art of the Start
The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything 
by Guy Kawasaki

Make meaning.  The best reason to start an organization is to make meaning — to create a product or service that makes the world a better place. 
— Guy Kawasaki

If you are familiar with Guy Kawasaki, you have probably read his best seller, Rich Dad Poor Dad that was expanded into a series of books as well as workbooks and even a Rich Dad Poor Dad board game!

The Art of the Start begins by listing a five great ideas for starting things.  Now, I know most of you have already started a business, but I want to share Guy’s ideas, since they have helped me.

Guy describes meaning as …

  • Making the world a better place
  • Increasing the quality of life
  • Righting a terrible wrong
  • Preventing the end of something good.

​Most of us start a business for various reasons, but finding meaning in what you do is the most powerful motivator there is.   And motivation can pull you through the rough patches in your business.

So what is your meaning?  I can relate to the first two very easily.  I also hope that my eguides, newsletter and social media posts will help someone who is a new producer rather than ending their business — which could be something very good!

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Make Mantra.  Forget mission statements; they’re long, boring, and irrelevant.  No one can ever remember them — much less implement them.  Instead, take your meaning and make a mantra out of it.
— Guy Kawaski

Interesting concept, don’t you think!

The definition of a mantra is:

“A sacred verbal formula repeated in prayer, meditation, or incantation, such as an invocation of a god, a magic spell, or a syllable or portion of scripture containing mystical potentialities.”

The idea is to evoke power and emotion.

I guess one of the most famous company mantras listed in Guy’s book is Coca-Colas:  “Refresh the world”.

Simple, easy to remember and is inspiring.

Guy cautions readers not to confuse mantra — which are for you and your staff — with tag lines — which is for customers.

I think I am going to work on a mantra for my business.  How about: “Helping Artisans/Producers succeed!”  What do you think?

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Get going.  Start creating and delivering your products or services. Think (fabric, clay, paints, card stock, gems, ingredients — inventory parts) — whatever tools you use to build products and services.  Don’t focus on pitching, writing, and planning.
— Guy Kawasaki

Do you struggle with analysis paralysis?  You know, trying to over think everything rather than just jumping in and doing it?

I think this is just what Guy is talking about.

I see this often when building websites.  Creators will spend a huge amount of time looking at different programs, templates and options … wanting to make their website just perfect …. which sometimes can take years or never happen at all.

Don’t do that!  Getting something up and going is better than having nothing!

Same is true for products.  Once you start creating, you will find ways to improve your designs, make them faster or easier to make, and get feedback on saleability of the items.

Guy reminds us that the first release of a product won’t be perfect, and suggests revising it because customers already love it — rather than the other way around!

Now, stop reading, and Get Going!

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Define Your Business Model.  No matter what kind of organization you’re starting, you have to figure out a way to make money.  The greatest idea, technology, product, or service is short-lived without a sustainable business model.
— Guy Kawasaki

Guy suggests asking yourself these two questions:

  1. Who has your money in their pockets?
  2. How are you going to get it into your pocket?

Okay, not very subtle, but to the point!  The first question relates to your customer and the second question defines your sales and marketing mechanism.

I have shared many tips and posts about defining your idea customer or avatar (question 1).  Of course, the more specific you can get the easier it will be to target that market.

​The second question involves describing your business model.  Guy recommends using ten words or less.

Stumped?  Find a successful online business similar to yours and copy them — with your flavor, of course!

Guy’s final suggestion:  Go ask a women!  There is quite a detailed explanation from Guy for why he thinks women are smarter!

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Weave a MAT (Milestones, Assumptions, and Tasks).  The final step is to compile three lists:  1) Major milestones you need to meet; 2) Assumptions that are built into your business model; and 3) Tasks you need to accomplish to create an organization.  This will enforce discipline and keep your organization on track when all hell breaks loose — and all hell will break loose!
— Guy Kawasaki

The purpose in creating a MAT, according to Guy, “is to understand the scope of what you’re undertaking, test assumptions quickly, and provide a method to find and fix the large flaws in your thinking.”

Guy suggests seven milestones to focus on:

  1. Prove your concept
  2. Complete design specifications
  3. Finish a prototype
  4. Raise capital (where necessary)
  5. Ship a testable version to customers
  6. Ship the final version to customers
  7. Achieve break even

Following is a list of major assumptions you may be making about your business that may need to be adjusted:

  • Product or service performance metrics
  • Market size
  • Gross margin
  • Sales call per salesperson
  • Conversion rate of prospects to customers
  • Length of sales cycle
  • Return on investment for the customer
  • Technical support calls per unit shipped
  • Payment cycle of receivables and payable
  • Compensation requirements
  • Prices of parts and supplies

Last, create a comprehensive list of tasks necessary for your business:

  1. Renting office space (or clearing a portion of your home)
  2. Finding key vendors
  3. Setting up accounting and payroll (if necessary) systems
  4. Filing legal documents
  5. Purchasing insurance policies

With that information in hand, you have begun the Art of the Start!

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