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4.2 out of 5 stars
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4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 21 March 2012
As someone who eagerly awaits Luke Johnson's weekly column in the FT and more often than not find it contains very useful insight and advice, I found this book slightly disappointing. It is quite short for a start; nothing wrong with that but it's not cheap, and while the book looks thick the typeset is large and many pages are taken up with only 9 or 10 word quotations. But more significantly, it suffers from the same weakness that some of Johnson's columns in the FT do - when he sticks to the nitty-gritty of actually starting and running a business he is consistently interesting and worthwhile. But he regularly veers off to go on extended rants about how the world would be so much better a place of everyone was an entrepreneur like him, how businesspeople get such a rough ride, etc. At times his quasi-religious fanaticism about the need for everyone to be business people from the cradle to the grave and never relent or pause for reflection begins to grate. The last 10 pages or so in particular, where he trots out all the usual whinges of the business community, and tries to tie them into a existential lesson on existence, are embarassing. But it's worth reading for the bits where he sticks to his knitting on actual lessons from business.

It occurred to me that Johnson may have something to answer for in terms of the blandness of our High Streets; he seems to have been - or is still - in control of the majority of the restaurant chains in the country (or at least in the south-east). And this is another curious inconsistency in his message - he continually rails against big businesses for their inefficiency, lack of thrills, waste of human talent, etc, but seems to feel it's fine to be a big business (rather than an entrepreneurial start-up or disruptive smaller enterprise) if he is behind it or has a major stake in it.

I love the guy and admire his achievements, but he might be even better if he lost a little of his missionary fanaticism, at least when penning his books. I'd suggest that anyone making the decision on whether to buy this book look to follow Johnson's advice as an entrepreneur and look to cut costs by picking up a second-hand copy for half the price; he would undoubtedly approve of such 'disruptive' types of consumer behaviour (or would he ?).
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on 24 April 2012
Frankly I was a little disappointed with this book. Exhortation isn't the same as entrepreneurial advice. In general I think the book rather shallow and I would have prefered yet another "How I built (Pizza Express)XYZ". Or even better an analysis of how a business failed from someone of this stature would have shown unusual humility as well as being more instructive.
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on 18 September 2011
I highly recommend this inspiring, thoughtful book to anyone interested in how the world works and the role that endeavour plays. Luke is grounded in History and is a realistic optimist. He understands how Business works and provides great tips re ingredients for success and how important attention to detail and the execution of a great idea is.
Luke has been around and shares his failures as well as his successes.
He would be a great mentor, and since we will not get this face to face opportunity, then this very readable book is the next best thing!!
You will get much more from this than by watching hours of the Apprentice and Dragons Den entertainment.
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on 18 September 2011
Luke Johnson is one of Britain's most successful entrepreneurs, with an estimated personal fortune of £120 million. He's a former chairman of Pizza Express and Channel 4 Television, and columnist for the Financial Times and Management Today.

Start It Up is written to inspire and encourage anyone who's ever considered becoming their own boss. It's entertaining, easy to read and full of personal experiences and advice. Johnson tackles practical issues like getting ideas, funding, managing people and trading in a downturn, but he also tackles the various reasons people give themselves for not starting their own business. There is plenty of useful stuff in the book, whether you are just starting out or already running your own business. We get practical examples of successful and failed business ventures both large and small, that can teach us much. The advice given in the book may not be new, but it has seldom been put more enthusiastically, or as well. The book is entertaining and easy to read.

Johnson's book has practical advice, but is also a wake-up call for anyone who wants to go out and live their dreams, build a business, and potentially get rich doing it. Luke Johnson believes "Running you own business is nowhere as tough as you might think. So what are you waiting for?"
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on 7 October 2011
I've read quite a few books by millionaires and this one is odd. If gives no insight into the writers past or how they got to where they are and at the same time doesn't really talk about anything. The book is in essence a long winded and drawn out version of it's title. Not sure why it got so many good reviews. If I could have a refund I would.
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on 5 November 2011
A fairly decent inspirational read that once more confirms the old truism that in order to succeed in business you first have to go and do something and then pretty much keep doing one thing after another until you eventually make it.
In addition to that the book also contains some pretty good advice, imho, on where to look for money and about how it's always a bad idea to borrow money against your house. Another sensible piece of advice is that when you're just starting out perhaps the most sensible approach is to moonlight until your business starts making enough cash or at least until you're sure that it's already on the verge of generating steady cash flow.
I also liked the bit about the importance of execution. It's repeated throughout the book and for a good reason as there are probably hundreds of thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs out there coming up with all sorts of ideas but never actually getting round to implementing those ideas.

If it's some sort of a revelation you're after this book is not for you, but truth be told there's probably nothing new in how to go about starting your own business, all the information has been known for centuries and this book just provides a good summary of it.
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on 2 September 2011
I was a bit disappointed by this book, as I felt like I had read most of the content elsewhere before.

I enjoy Luke Johnson's columns in the Financial Times, and I have purchased his other books.

However I felt with this book that I had seen most of the content in it in his other publications, indeed some sentences look like they have been copied and pasted in from other articles.

I enjoyed reading Mr Johnson's work the first time, but I am not sure why I have paid £7 to read it again

It does feel a bit like an anthology of his work, whereas it is marketed as a new book.

I would purchase his next book, but I am hoping for content I have not read before.

I have now given this book to a friend who has not read any of Mr Johnson's other works. who I think will find it more interesting.
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on 24 November 2011
This contained some quite useful information. It is an easy read and is essentially a collection of articles. I don't really follow his columns in newspapers or magazines so I don't really know if much of it is repeated.
The author is extremely successful and genuinely comes across as someone who wants to share his knowledge rather than just to show off.
I found many of the chapters to be quite helpful. The information isn't just motivating or inspirational but is often practical and useful.

Occasionally it is a bit of a "rich and successful man pontificating but thankfully it is much less so than in other similar books.

The author is extremely successful and genuinely comes across as someone who wants to share his knowledge rather than just to show off.
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on 21 September 2011
Luke Johnson distils over twenty years of hard-won experience for us in his new book, `Start It Up.'
There's none of the typical celebrity-entrepreneur's high-watt glow of self-satisfaction here. Engagingly, Mr Johnson begins the book with an impressive catalogue of his own cock-ups. Yet he has won through. And that's the point, really - the entrepreneur needs, it appears, an extraordinarily high capacity to `bounce back.'
Howard Shultz spent a year making 242 presentations to potential investors before he was able to raise the money to start Starbucks. Most entrepreneurs must overcome myriad setbacks before they get anywhere. Promoting enterprise is not really about spreadsheets. It's about character. And it's not for everyone. Perhaps it's only for one in ten.
But entrepreneurs are the people who create wealth, produce employment and ultimately provide the taxes that fund education, health, law & order and all the rest of it. (Even highly-established concerns had to start somewhere; in the case of Rolls Royce Aerospace, with its current aircraft engine order book of £61.4 billion, it all began with two guys meeting in a Manchester hotel in 1904 and deciding to go into partnership to design and sell new-fangled automobiles.)
If you feel you do have it in you to throw your hat into the ring and get going, `Start It Up' is choc-full of invaluable advice, telling anecdotes and illuminating case studies - far too many to summarise here. So buy it. And take to heart the words of that remarkable entrepreneur and inventor Thomas Alva Edison:
"I have not failed. I have found 10,000 ways that do not work."
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on 14 September 2011
I bought this book having followed and very much enjoyed Luke Johnson's weekly column in the FT. The book is written in the same straight forward style - independent thought from someone who has seen it and done it, but without any of the self-importance you often find in books written by high profile business people. The book offers a whole host of practical tips and advice as well as a few do's and dont's for a budding would-be entrepreneur or the experienced business person to reflect on. As an owner of a small growing business I found that there was much to reflect on, but I equally enjoyed the auto-biographical style and regular anecdotes. Overall a really enjoyable read.
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