Four Secrets for Entrepreneurs

Tech guru Guy Kawasaki has worked in Silicon Valley for over 30 years. Here, he shares what he has learned.

1. Embrace Your Ignorance

When you look at the entrepreneurs who have changed the world, you realize: Most of them did it while they were young. The reason is simple: When you are young, you don’t know what you don’t know. And that’s empowering. Because if you knew the difficulty of the path that you are about to undertake, you might not take it.

When I was younger, I worked for Apple. I evangelized Macintosh, which was a new operating system at the time. I had no idea how hard it would be to do that. If a company were to call me today and say, “Guy, we have another new operating system,” would I do it? Probably not. Because I know how hard it is to do. But someone who’s 20 or 30 just doesn’t know how hard it’s going to be and might try. And, lo and behold: might succeed.

Guy Kawasaki

2. Don’t Worry, Be Scrappy

Many people spend too much time planning and too little time doing. My experience is: You don’t need a business plan of 50 pages with excruciating details about your technology, rollout strategy and team background plus a financial forecast for five years, so that in the fourth month of the fifth year you know how much you’re going to spend on a toner cartridge. The best pitch an entrepreneur can make is: “Let me show you the product.”

That’s the first step toward changing the world: getting started. Launch. Figure it out as you go. The most important thing is not where you started. It’s how fast you change.

That’s the first step toward changing the world: getting started.”

3. Find People Who Love What You Do

When searching for potential employees, most people apply two basic criteria: educational background and work experience. I have learned that the key to forming a team of people who are going to change the world with you is to add one more: Do they love what we do? Do they love that we make a car, that we make a surfboard, that we make a website? Someone can have the right educational background, the right work experience, but if the passion isn’t there, if it doesn’t change their pulse to think that they’re going to work on this, then they are not right for you.

This should be the first thing you look for. Then, check their work experience and educational background. But if in doubt, take the person who loves what you do. Everything else can follow.

Guy Kawasaki

4. Jump Curves

A very good mental framework for innovation is to jump curves. To not stay on the same curve and do something 10 percent better, but to get to the next curve.

An example from history: There used to be an ice-harvesting business in America. In the 1900s, ice harvesters would go to a frozen lake, cut a block of ice, put it on a sleigh and have the horse pull the block of ice someplace else. Thirty years later, there were ice factories: Water was frozen centrally, the ice man put the ice on a truck and the truck delivered ice to your house. Today, everybody has their own personal ice factory, called the refrigerator. None of the ice harvesters became ice factories, and none of the ice factories became refrigerator companies.

That is the problem: Most organizations define themselves in terms of what they already do. The great world-changing technologies, however, occur because you got to the next curve. Not because you did it slightly better on the same curve.

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