After 30 years of working in Silicon Valley, starting up companies and advising other entrepreneurs, Guy Kawasaki can be considered an expert in the field. His long experience has made him one of the most influential people in anything having to do with startups, innovation and management. At present he is ‘chief evangelist’ (the term given to someone who implants a technology or a movement) for Canva, a design tool, and works with the Wikimedia Foundation. Previously he had worked twice for Apple, and with two partners founded Garage Technology Ventures, a capital fund “to give entrepreneurs the power to change the world.” In addition, besides participating in other projects, he has written 13 books, one of which is always on the reading list recommended to entrepreneurs. Last December 14th, Madrid and Silicon Valley connected to hold an interesting talk in which Guy revealed his secrets for founding a company.
When starting up, you only need one thing: an idea. And it doesn’t even have to be your own. The really important thing, according to Guy, is to know how to recognize a good idea and then carry it out. “The aim is to be successful, not to be successful with your idea,” he says. Once you have that idea, there are certain steps along every entrepreneurial route that cannot be ignored: thinking out the business model, identifying its strengths… Through his long experience, Guy Kawasaki has identified the 10 practices that every entrepreneur should apply from day one:
- Ask yourself questions, beginning with the simplest ones. For example: Is there already another product better than mine?
- Draw up a MBBP (Maintenance Benchmarking and Best Practices). Don’t ignore what others are doing, and determine if your product really offers something of value.
- Forge ahead, let nothing stop you if you have a good idea. “In the United States the only things you need are a good PowerPoint presentation and a prototype to show,” says Guy. Don’t wait for a detailed business plan to start off.
- Define your business model. From the first day you “need to know how you are going to monetize your idea,” he stresses.
- Establish your priorities and the successive goals you want to reach.
- Become a good storyteller. In Guy’s opinion it is essential to know how to tell, in the first person, why you created your company and what needs it is meeting. “And it has to be personal,” he insists.
- Love what you’re doing and work with people who share that passion. For example, when it comes to putting together a team, Guy thinks it’s more important that the members feel part of a project than that they may have had a successful business career before this.
- Use the social networks, “they’re free and they’re there.” To be successful, it’s not necessary to invest large amounts of money in media, but rather to generate good content and get it out there organically.
- “Let the flowers grow.” In other words, follow your instincts.
- Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. “Don’t believe them, because if you do, you’ll never know if they were wrong,” he points out.
And what happens if we make a mistake and things don’t turn out as we hoped? “It’s not a question of if you failed. What matters is if you’ve ever been successful,” says Guy. The great entrepreneurs didn’t go down in history for the times their companies went under, but for that idea that surprised everyone and broke records. “If you’re paralyzed by fear of failure, it’s possible that you may never be successful as a businessman. You’re always going to be afraid –and it would be crazy not to be– but one of the keys of entrepreneurship is to overcome this fear and convert it into something positive,” explains Guy.
With these 10 bits of advice, that sum up 30 years of experience in Silicon Valley, Guy Kawasaki rewarded his listeners with a valuable master class.