I have a confession: I have a "guy" crush on superstar business author Guy Kawasaki. And for good reason: He’s smart, he's fun and he looks like Jackie Chan (Seriously, people have asked him if he’s the Kung Fu star.) Kawasaki recently launched a new business book, The Art of the Start 2.0: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything. I had an opportunity to interview him about it.
Picking up on the book's theme, I asked him his six biggest tips for growing a business. Here they are:
1. Practice, practice, practice.
As entrepreneurs, we need to give presentations regularly. Never speak without practice. Referring to Apple’s former chief evangelist, Guy spoke of how Steve Jobs used to spend hours and hours perfecting his presentations, “People thought he just went up there and winged it, and that’s absolutely not true.”
If you want to be as successful as Steve Jobs, practice hard.
2. Youth can be a strength.
Your age doesn’t have to matter. You can beat competitors who have far more experience. Consider the game of designing softwares for millennials. There, a 25-year-old making software for millennials is more likely to succeed than is a 60-year-old.
Kawasaki recommended this way of thinking: “I wanted to use a product like this, and there was nothing like it, so I decided to create it.”
3. Tell your product 's 'story.'
Storytelling helps customers understand what makes your product stand out: How did you discover there’s a need in the market? Why did you create this product?
Your product story, Kawasaki said, could be, “I’m a millennial and I want to use this product. I know other millennials want to use it too.”
4. Position yourself against the market leader.
When you’re going up against a market leader such as Google, you have to acknowledge that it exists. You should also explain why you’re different. Imagine if Toyota said, “We are introducing Lexus. It’s the best high-end industry car.” People would say, “Have you heard of BMW and Mercedes? Are you telling me there’re no other high-end luxury cars now?”
That’s why Lexus uses the following positioning, Kawasaki said: “We are as good as Mercedes and BMW, but half the price.”
5. Find your why.
The “why” of your startup is what gets you motivated. Kawasaki, whose purpose is empowering people, said that his own "why" is simple: “I have four children. I’ve got a lot of tuition to pay.”
Find your "why," so you’ll be fired up to reach the sky.
6. Great endorsements start with a great product.
Besides the personal courage to approach an influencer to endorse your product, the entrepreneur obviously needs a great product. Kawasaki's books, for example, are endorsed by successful leaders such as Richard Branson and Arianna Huffington. But it takes time to create great products that attract these testimonials.
Don’t overestimate the power of an influencer recommending your product. Product reviews from average customers matter, too. People are not waiting for the Wall Street Journal to bless the new iPhone, Kawasaki said. They look at online reviews and decide if they will buy the product.
As chief evangelist at Canva, the online graphic design company, Kawasaki told me that he himself wants to be more famous than Jackie Chan.
Don’t worry, Guy. I’m in Hong Kong. I might be the first one to ask Chan, “Are you Guy Kawasaki?”