Guy Kawasaki’s top 10 errors of entrepreneurs and how to avoid them

How can you not like a guy born in Hawaii who loves hockey so much he now plays every day? That’s Guy Kawasaki. Although I feel obligated to tell you, Guy, that only Brits call it “ice” hockey.

Kawasaki kicked off the Global Startup Grind conference this week with his top-10-errors-of-founders-and-fixes list. If you’re among those who think of Kawasaki as a guy who parlayed a job at Apple into a book writing career, think again. He founded three startups which all had successful exits, and he founded a VC fund.

He also admits he’s made most of these errors himself, so there’s endearing humbleness there. For those with short attention spans, I’ve boiled Kawasaki’s talk down to 10 nuggets of 140 characters or less. Feel free to Tweet.

#1. 1%. “If we get just 1% of a billion Chinese…” 1% is in fact really hard and it’s too low a target. -> Size markets from the bottom up.

#2. Scaling. Capital sunk in servicing sales you don’t have leaves you no capital to acquire sales. -> Scale by eating what you kill.

#3. Partnerships. Any partnership that doesn’t increase your sales or cut your costs is bullshit. -> Focus on sales.

#4. Pitches. Your mission is to get customers. Money is a means to an end. -> Show your prototypes to 1,000 customers, not 1,000 VCs.

#5. Slides. Don’t start with the team, or use lots of words and slides -> Guy’s 10-20-30 rule: 10 points in the deck — 20 minutes — 30 pt font.

#6. Proceed serially. I.e. raise money, hire a team, build a prototype, make sales, go public. Wrong. -> Proceed parallelly — push all at once.

#7. Control. It’s a delusion. Take outside money, lose control. Try to own 0.5% of Google, not 51% of a piece of crap. -> Make a bigger pie.

#8. IP. It’s rare for a startup to win a patent judgement against a Google, Apple, etc. That’s why it’s news. -> The best IP defense is success.

#9. Hiring. Hire 2 women for every man. It takes 2 women to overcome the stupidity of one man. -> Seriously, hire people to complement you.

#10. Relationship. Investors give you $1, expect to get $50 back. They are not friends. -> For a good relationship, exceed expectations.

Geoff Foulds
Geoff Foulds
What fascinates me are the edges. And nowhere are the edges edgier… the stakes higher… than startups. There are plenty of sources of friction, compression and tension among founders and financiers, engineers and marketeers. How do you mesh all the edges so they transmit power even when loads are heavy? That’s what I write about.

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