Given my previous post on blogging, I may have given the impression that “The Art of the Start” by Guy Kawasaki is the best thing since sliced bread.

Unfortunately - it’s not. It is good - and it adds a reasonable amount of value, but it’s not “all that”.

I skim-read the book over coffee in the bookshop when I first saw it. And unfortunately for Guy, I have say that I got the most value out of the book in that initial skim reading.

Perhaps it’s because I haven’t any use for information on: how to deal with potential venture capitalists; the differences in venture-capital meeting dress-style between the east and west coast; and how most financial projections in business plans are completely useless.

Or perhaps it’s because in he and I have a similar way of thinking about these sorts of things, so there isn’t that much that seems new. Your mileage may vary.

One of the main problems I have with the book is that it’s marketed as “for anyone starting anything.” However, I suspect there was a conversation like this between two of the publishers just before releasing the book:

  1. Publisher 1 - “So we’re publishing a book for people starting software businesses that need venture capital. Now tell me, how many people do that each year? And how many do we have to sell to make a profit? Who the hell signed this deal?”
  2. Publisher 2 - “Well… the introduction is fairly general - you could even use it as a way of structuring a blog, for example. He also does use some other examples besides software and tech business stuff in parts of the book - there’s one sentence on page 47, for example. How about we subtitle it’Your guide to starting anything?’”
  3. Publisher 1 - “Isn’t that a bit bland? It needs a’little something’, I think”
  4. Publisher 2 - “How about’The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything’? Now everyone can buy our book.”
  5. Publisher 1 - “Publisher 2, you’re a bloody genius.”

That said - I don’t regret buying the book. The first few chapters especially have some important and useful ideas. But it has some major assumptions about the business you’re going to build, where it’s going to be located, and how you are going to build it. (It always goes something along these lines: think of the idea; start building it while you try find venture capital; list it on the stock market or sell it to a competitor.)

I personally think of starting a business in a different way - but I’ll have more about that in another post.