Top critical review
Lots of the right advice, not necessarily in the right order
21 March 2011
Smarta is an online business advice website created in 2008 and now backed by a couple of Dragon's Den entrepreneurs. This book condenses much of their business advice into six sections, replete with comments and interviews from real entrepreneurs and, as such, it has a welcome feeling of realism about it.
It does miss a trick, however. Whilst there's lots of useful information in there, it's not necessarily organised in a useful way - indeed it feels more like a series of blog entries. The book begins with sections on why this is the best decade to start a business, what smart businesses look like and what smart people do. The problem with this is that the process of actually starting a business isn't covered until page 135 by which time many prospective entrepreneurs will have lost interest.
At the end of the book, they mention they're starting a service which will bundle various business services into one - with a monthly (paid for) subscription. My cynical side suggests that this explains their rather silly section on websites (they characterise it as "do it yourself" or "pay thousands") - since part of their service is a template-based website. I find myself wondering how much of the book is tainted by the fact that at least part of the point is to provide marketing for their new service.
Having said all that, this book has lots of advice ranging from the completely bleeding obvious to the genuinely insightful. It's best read alongside a book that gives a more procedural guide to setting up a business and, as with all business books, taken with a pinch of salt. Businesses reflect their owners and, as this book says, there's only one you so, in the end, you'll do it your own way.