BOOKS: Smell The Coffee

BOOKS: Smell The Coffee - Anyone Can Do It; By Sahar and Bobby Hashemi; Capstone pounds 14.99

by RICHARD REED, co-founder and co-director of Innocent Drinks
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Anyone Can Do It; By Sahar and Bobby Hashemi; Capstone pounds 14.99

Entrepreneurial tips from the sibling founders of Coffee Republic give Richard Reed a buzz.

I think I'm a bit of a geek. I can't seem to stop reading business biographies. I've just finished one about Nike called Just Do It, and I'm now reading 21 Dog Years about Amazon, which I bought from one of those weird book-vending machines you get at airports. So when I was asked to review Anyone Can Do It, by Sahar and Bobby Hashemi, the brother-and-sister duo that set up Coffee Republic, I was pathetically excited.

In my experience, Coffee Republic is one of those business success stories that budding entrepreneurs talk about with their slightly bored friends down the pub.

Started a few years ago by this unlikely combination of siblings-in-business who knew nothing about coffee, apart from what they liked, the company now seems to have an outlet on every discerning high street corner - a success story that deserves to be told.

I love the idea of successful entrepreneurs telling their story. My pet theory is that every single person has his or her own business idea, but most of these don't see the light of day because people don't know what steps to take in setting up a business. As a result, the overall task seems too daunting. So the more that stories can be told and information shared, the more people will feel comfortable with the idea of having a pop themselves.

And that is where this book really comes in. Unlike the Nike and Amazon stories, it is not just the account of what happened; it is also part textbook. So on the one hand you get a warts-and-all recounting of events as they happened - which would make an interesting read in its own right - but on the other you get practical advice on the things you need to do, and the things you shouldn't, if you are setting up your own business. Should you spend money on market research? What the hell does a business plan look like? Where do you go for funding?

Questions you really need answers to if you're thinking of giving up your nice paid job to set up your own cheese shop, or whatever.

Overall, this combination of advice and anecdote works well and, once you have experienced any good idea, you end up thinking: 'Why hasn't someone thought of that before?'

For me, the most telling test of the book is: would I have wanted to read it four years ago when two friends and I were thinking of jacking in our jobs to set up Innocent? And the answer is a resounding yes. Essential reading for any budding Richard Bransons, or geeks like me.

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