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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blood and guts, start to finish account of starting, growing and selling a successful business, 6 Jan. 2014
This review is from: Wake Up and Sell the Coffee!: The story of Coffee Nation and how to start, build and sell a high-growth business (Paperback)
Was given a copy of this by a friend as I run my own business, and have to say was very refreshing.

Read so many "entrepreneurs" books which end up being either attempts to re-write history as self-aggrandising nonsense or a bunch of half-baked models, rules and checklists which just don't work in the real world.

Dawes instead gives us a warts and all, blood and guts, start to finish account of starting, growing and selling a successful business. No pretence that the obstacles, dead ends and cock-ups were "all part of the plan" here... Only supplier going bust a few days after signing your biggest contract to date? Pitching for funding with little more than a cardboard cut-out coffee machine and a not-quite-finished business plan? This is the real world of business - a normal bloke with a good idea, his wits and a couple million quid of someone else's money...

It's a ripping good story first and foremost, but one with a wealth of useful stuff for anyone who runs their own business. Dawes is clearly a smart cookie and so many of his approaches were unconventional, smart, ballsy or all of these: parachuting his own management team into his failing supplier, walking away from a major "name" in the coffee business when he realised their coffee wasn't good enough, relentlessly re-assessing his market again, and again and again, being unashamedly obsessive about the numbers and the detail... Each chapter ends with a review of what he felt he learned at each stage, about what worked, what didn't and what he'd do differently if he had to do it all over again: The honesty of this self-critique is telling - and perhaps the clearest hint as to why Dawes (eventually!) found such success.

It's also great to hear the full story, end to end. The less than glamourous beginnings of weeks on the road trying to flog coffee machines to "mom & pop" newsagents and corner-shops and eventually dealing with head honcho's at global customers and working through £multi million finance and exit processes with top flight advisors and lawyers. Dawes story is not quite rags to riches (he'd already had a small but successful consulting firm) but it's damn close and from the sound of it he came within a wafer of losing the lot on more than one occasion.

Strongly recommended if you run a business, want to, or want to know what it's really like being a successful entrepreneur.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book may just change your life, 22 Feb. 2014
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If you are running your own business this book is a must read. The learning points throughout are extremely relevant and insightful, irrespective of the type of business you run (e.g high growth start up or established SME). I honestly believe this book will have a significant impact on me and my company. And apart from anything else it's a great story of overcoming challenges and the power of determination and self belief. Well done Mr Dawes and thank you for sharing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good guys do win!, 24 Jan. 2014
This review is from: Wake Up and Sell the Coffee!: The story of Coffee Nation and how to start, build and sell a high-growth business (Paperback)
I was given this book by a friend, knowing little about Coffee Nation, being not from the UK. I found it to be a wonderfully gripping tale of a sometimes bumpy road to success and I found my self rivetted and gunning for Martyn Dawes every step of the way!

This book is a refreshingly honest telling of quite a journey. Valuable lessons learned are distilled and presented as key points at the end of each chapter and one would do well to take note if planning to follow a similar path. The insights provided are quite special as not many people who have found success would share the rocky road travelled, they just promote the highs. Even better, coffee AND love win out in the end. Bravo.

If you ask future entrepreneurs if they could have their time over would they do it all again, I would assume the answer would be, "Yes.... but only with this bible at my side".

Wake Up and Sell the Coffee is a great read. The Hobbit is not the only journey worth following this year!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A nice blend, 4 Feb. 2014
This review is from: Wake Up and Sell the Coffee!: The story of Coffee Nation and how to start, build and sell a high-growth business (Paperback)
A lively read and a really good blend between the telling of the journey storey and the lessons to be drawn from the experiences along the way. Far better than the purely "this is what I did" story or an attempt to give a "text book of entrepreneurship"
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read before you start your business, 9 Feb. 2014
This review is from: Wake Up and Sell the Coffee!: The story of Coffee Nation and how to start, build and sell a high-growth business (Paperback)
A tell all, the trials and tribulations, of going from nothing to a substantial business. It's tough enough to emulate this success -use the book to increase your success probability. The author takes you through all his learnings in a format that makes the lessons real and applicable to any budding entrepreneur. I came away with an understanding of the commitment, perseverance and focus required to launch a business - a good filter to apply before deciding to pursue a similar route. The introspection post exit was an eye-opener - the entrepreneurial spirit isn't satiated on a sale.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rare, honest, hard hitting good read, 27 Feb. 2014
By 
L. Hunt "1" (berkshire, england) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This is not the usual entrepremeur's ego trip, but a frank and open account of the ups and downs of building a real, successful business. Well written and entertaining
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A terrific read, not just for aspiring entrepreneurs, 3 Jan. 2014
This review is from: Wake Up and Sell the Coffee!: The story of Coffee Nation and how to start, build and sell a high-growth business (Paperback)
A really enjoyable and well-written read. Too many business books fail to engage me with their turgid self-congratulations and weak anecdotes. Dawes writes from the heart and with an honesty and humour that's accessible and compelling: as well as offering great tips to entrepreneurs its a good read and worthy insight into a fascinating man with a fascinating story.
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5.0 out of 5 stars It's like reading the book equivalent of Gladiator!, 14 Mar. 2015
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This review is from: Wake Up and Sell the Coffee!: The story of Coffee Nation and how to start, build and sell a high-growth business (Paperback)
Seriously though, this is a very truthful account of building a business from scratch after spotting the opportunity without any spin.

There's two things I really like about this Wake Up And Sell The Coffee. Firstly, it's clear that Martyn has given us the direct benefit of his Coffee Nation experience, successes and failures all -- from a British point of view.

I particularly liked the part about testing and getting something working first before committing funds on the runway (similar to the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) from Lean Startup).

Martyn has also taken many important ideas from many business books we all know and love, distilled the wisdom that was useful to him for Coffee Nation and showed how things worked in practice. And importantly tell us what he would have done differently with hindsight. That in particular had a big effect on me. Great job and one to add to the collection.

5 stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Honest, open & highly recommended, 18 July 2014
This review is from: Wake Up and Sell the Coffee!: The story of Coffee Nation and how to start, build and sell a high-growth business (Paperback)
A great combination of a compelling and highly engaging business story (that was certainly far far from easy with so many pitfalls along the way that the final success story obviously overshadows) with some very clear and well grounded learnings & advice for any aspiring entrepreneur to thoroughly digest. Read it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Unvarnished truth, 7 April 2014
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This review is from: Wake Up and Sell the Coffee!: The story of Coffee Nation and how to start, build and sell a high-growth business (Paperback)
Firstly I should declare that I worked for a supplier to Coffee Nation from the early days until its eventual sale. I knew Martyn and the senior team well and felt the ripples from the various ups and downs that Martyn describes. I found the book an easy and insightful read. I have not verified any dates or numbers but the general flow all sits well with my own recollections. It is as honest an account as you are going to get on this topic. So many lessons learned but the thing that does come through is the passion and drive. Whether those lessons get you the right answer in a different business is hard to call but you will certainly need the passion if you are to overcome the numerous hurdles that will cross you supposedly well-planned path.
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