Last night I was invited to Challenge Your World as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week (thank you, Martin Lessard!). Guy Kawasaki was spectacular as the keynote speaker. For the most part, Guy’s top 10 tips for entrepreneurs make a ton of sense. There are only a couple I dispute. My comments are in italics.

  1. Build what YOU want to use– in other words, skip the market research, make the product or service and get going (see #8 too); build your product/ service with a partner for the lowest cost possible and ensure your partner has talents and skills different than your own.
  2. Pay $0 for tools- WordPress for blogging is a prime example. I was given this sage advice when I started Chandler Coaches and it has served me well to date.
  3. Pay $0 for marketing– there is no longer a need to hire a PR company pre-launch or spend $$ on advertising. Agreed and I think you do need to spend a bit of money on a talented graphic artist who can create your company/ product identity…something people will recognize on your website/ blog,  Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc. 
  4. Suck down or across (not up!)- the person who will make your product a success is a “nobody” who will tell other “nobodies” how much he loves your product/ service.  Because you don’t know who the nobodies are, you have to reach a lot of people. Forget about sucking up to stars and other influencers. This makes a ton of sense AND if you can find a way to get the Oprah Effect too, that won’t hurt!
  5. Use Twitter – there is no better way to reach the masses.  It is brilliant and it is free.
  6. Pay $0 for people-get help from people who are willing to do internships or work for free.  Sure, this might be fine when you are truly a startup with $0 cash flow.  After that, once you are making $, it is not ok, in my opinion, to make $ on someone else’s back.  Share and you will be rewarded. And what about hiring a startup coach like Alain Theriault (who is top of mind as I saw him last night) to help a bit on the front end? And then hire me when you are more established and I will help you grow in the direction you want.
  7. Put everything in “the cloud”- this was for techies restoring data on servers
  8. Ship, then test! Create a product or service that is good enough and get going. Don’t aim for perfection or anything close.  “Cash saves all”.  My partner Tanya Geisler and I recently did this with our new Coach Buffet concept and we got great feedback on our first two events. We couldn’t know what we know today if we had held off to refine the process.
  9. Avoid venture capital (VC)- bootstrap your company for the first few years instead of looking for investors.  When you have a proven product/ service and want to scale up, VC can be an alternative.
  10. Niche thyself- be the unique/ high-value player.  And if you are the marketer, ask how you can convince the world you are the unique/ high-value player.
  11. Guy’s Bonus: Don’t let the bozos grind you down. In Guy’s world, the dangerous bozos are the rich, famous people whose opinions are given more weight than they should be. Resist the naysayers, especially if they are where they are in business/ life because of luck/circumstances and not intelligence.


  1. Tassili on November 20, 2009 at 10:23 am

    Great post! And faithfully reported, if I may add.
    If you have a chance, folks, go hear him talk : inspiring talks add some pep to your walk!

  2. Tanya Geisler on November 20, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    Lise, your ability to contextualize and drill down content is magnificent. There is so much value here…am sure he was amazing to hear, AND this is amazing to read. Well done!

    • lisablog52 on November 20, 2009 at 1:50 pm

      Guy Kawaski made it easy to capture as he had very simple slides with those 10 key points and nothing more. A lesson for all presenters….keep it focussed and simple to pack a big punch with one’s message.

  3. Julie on November 21, 2009 at 10:02 am

    thanks for the recap Lisa! Great! I hope CB was great!

  4. Deborah Hinton on November 23, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Thanks for sharing Lisa. I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews about kawaski until now. I think he really went to far. Met with a couple of his biggest fans – my social media gurus for Equitas – on Friday and even they thought some of his ideas were just outrageous. Wonder when you push an idea that far whether you further the discussion or alienate the audience.

    • lisablog52 on November 23, 2009 at 12:35 pm

      I interpreted his “pay $0 for people” and “pay $0 for marketing” as metaphors for “bootstrap your company in the beginning and don’t rush to make big spends on PR or other people thinking that all your problems will be solved”. I am not supportive of $0 as that suggests that the beginning entrepreneur needs to be the expert at everything and we both know that sometimes paying for some timely assistance can really help. I am sure he pushed his points purposely to be controversial and talked about a lot and he said as much.

  5. Rivers Corbett on November 23, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    The interesting common theme here is “O”…love it…

    • lisablog52 on November 23, 2009 at 3:50 pm

      Thanks, Rivers….it’s not always possible but something to strive for certainly, particularly when it comes to marketing a start up.

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