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on 28 September 2012
I am in the process of starting my own business having been unable to find unemployment since graduating two and a half years ago. I have no work experience and was hoping to read a "How I started and ran my own business" book addressing the concerns of would be entrepreneurs. Unfortunately this book doesn't follow that format. There are only occasional examples and "take home" lessons here, rather the book feels more like a collection of one man's general musings on business and capitalism. The book is painfully repetitive and there are only general references to his own enterprises but no specifics e.g. he mentions how his Giraffe restaurants implement Kaizen, that is continuous incremental improvement, but does not say what these improvements have actually been. This book is supposedly aimed at "newbies" but is riddled with business terms that may be unfamiliar to readers but are used without definition. What little evidence he offers for some of his views more often than not is a very brief anecdote with an anonymous reference to "a friend" and doesn't really discuss or analyse the incidences in detail. Perhaps I misunderstood the authors stated intention but if the book's tag line is meant to be its argument then I don't feel that the case has been made.
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on 8 January 2012
This is exactly the book I was looking for. It is a easy read, very practical and with many interesting facts.

This book tells you what it takes to do as many others have done, what it takes to be an entrepreneur. It does not require specific skills of such, rather a logical mindset, determination and perseverance.

Overall a very good read, inspirational I must say as well.

Read it and you will not regret!
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on 17 September 2011
This is an enjoyable and useful book which benefits from the two successful careers of its author. Reflecting Mr Johnson's experience in both journalism and private equity Start It Up has crisp, literate writing and a rich collection of real world business anecdotes.

The book's subtitle describes it as a "how to book from someone who has" but this is misleading. This is not really a "how to handbook" and those who are looking for a mechanistic manual of business basics such as reading balance sheets and dealing with VAT will not find it here. But what they will get is an inspirational manifesto for the would-be business founder from someone who clearly believes in the role of the entrepreneur. The text is full of short stories and pithy observations which address the highs and lows of setting up your own company.

Mr Johnson has a take-no-prisoners writing style. He has strong opinions and nails his colours to the mast in support of small enterprises and owner managers. On bureaucracy he has a clear view and quotes Balzac: "a giant mechanism operated by pygmies." Ayn Rand would have enjoyed this book.

Johnson himself has been a demonstrable success with a succession of fast food formats leavened by some high profile failures like the UK book chain Borders. But it is his candid and open admission of the cause of the flops as well as disclosing the foundations of the hits that makes his book so credible and valuable.

Start It Up is not a long book and if you discount the numerous quotes and book references it is actually quite short. But it is all the better for that as the messages are delivered is quick fire succession rather than being padded out.

If you are in the frustrating early stages of trying to get a business going or overwhelmed by the challenges of keeping one going in the recession Start It Up will make you feel better about the bad days and hopeful about the potential. On the difficult road of self-employment Start It Up is a sound investment and a good companion.
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on 9 October 2011
Go onto Amazon now and buy this book. It is a fantastic journey for all age groups and all walks of life. I am setting up a tiny business and this book made me think hard about the name, marketing, my market, people, everything; albeit as a grain of sand compared to the beach of Mr Johnson's achievements, but it was still relevant. Johnson is erudite and experienced in his subject and for that we get a relaxed, articulate and sometimes very funny read. You could give this to your father in law or your best friend's son reading classics. When the clocks go back, put the kettle on, switch off your phone and move into the world of big business for a few memorable hours.
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on 12 November 2011
To coin a phrase `Luke Johnson really has got the T shirt'. He writes with passion and clarity about a subject on which he has great front line experience. His style is not the usual egotistical diatribe of many `I have made it' businessmen. He discusses the reasons for his failures - in addition to his obvious successes. He provides legitimate and valuable practical advice and encouragement about entering the world of up starts.

An excellent contribution to the start-up genre and a book I would commend to anyone contemplating the exciting, challenging move towards self determination in business. Buy the book and increase your chances for success.
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on 20 September 2011
This was a fascinating book, full of interesting anecdotes and written with a real passion of what it means to be an entrepreneur. Luke has admitted to his successes and failures in the past and gives an insight into the mistakes to avoid and the good signs to look for. There is a constant undercurrent of having "been there and done it" alongside the tips and pitfalls gained from the businesses he has experienced. He seems to have been a little unlucky in encountering so many dishonest staff, but apart from this, he appears to have had a great time being his own boss. Does the book inspire me to start my own business? It makes me think about it at least.
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on 17 November 2011
Luke Johnson's Start it up is an excellent source of inspiration and motivation for anyone looking to go it alone. He has broken down the barriers of some of the key questions and blockers for new start ups. Packed with excellent thoughts and ideas on why now is as good a time as any to start your business, Luke provides plenty of tips, hints and valuable information to help get you to the start line. Well worth a read before you embark on the new adventure of owning and starting your new venture. Luke also has some good advice in recent lectures which can be found on the UK LSE and RSA websites.
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on 20 September 2011
Luke knows a thing or two about start ups and successful businesses as we all know, so as you would expect this book delivers a wealth of compelling insights and lessons intertwined with some really relevant examples and case studies. But the other brilliance of this book is that I actually want to read it! So many business books these days are turgid,'concept bound' and actually spend chapters making one point! Not this book. Read it and learn and enjoy at the same time
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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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on 2 October 2011
High unemployment and the 'be-your-own-boss' book make cosy bedfellows. But it would be rash to dismiss this offering on entrepreneurship from Luke Johnson simply as another publishers' ploy. Written to share his experiences creating and building businesses, 'Start It Up' is less a 'how-to' textbook and more a call to arms. With abundant quotations from business leaders, philosophers and historical figures, Johnson navigates a path between the instruction manual and the business biography to take the reader into a modern business world rich in character, chicanery and practical tactics. It's the 'SAS Survival Handbook' for going it alone.

'Start It Up' is finely written, quick-paced and doesn't pull any punches, but you're not going to learn how to register a new company, write a business plan or do a presentation. What you will learn on this anecdotal career journey are the things one might have said you won't find in a book: that even, for example, the most upright and trustworthy people will lie to you, that you should never, EVER sign a personal bank guarantee and, yes, your loyal staff will probably rob from you at some point, so look out... In short, the book is like having your own trusted adviser alongside you.

After describing how large corporations are trapped by caution, stifle talent and plod along the 'treadmill of financial returns', Johnson surveys a brighter future commanded by the agile, a landscape populated by freelancers and independents. The very word 'freelancer' -- which appears often -- reminds us that the entrepreneur does not have to create the next McDonalds, Microsoft or Google to be successful, although it can happen. Indeed your very own great -- and, he keenly emphasises, fulfilling -- business can be built in your own living room or garage: try it out, think it through and get it right, Johnson advises, before giving up the day job and finally flying solo.

Having had to fight through numerous economic cycles himself, Johnson is not afraid of being realistic: he has plenty to offer on managing a business through downturns and the day-to-day difficulties of cash-flow management when the bailiffs are at the door. But that side of business should not be taken too gloomily: one of the best times to take the plunge, he assures us, is when times are bleak and many others view the outlook with pessimism.

While full of useful advice and experience for the aspiring entrepreneur, Johnson does use this book as a platform for putting across a broader message. At a time when 'business' has almost become a dirty word, attacked by populist politicians and sections of the liberal press, Johnson re-casts the entrepreneur as a hero. And he sees one role for the businessman as educating the wider public that enterprise is a true source of prosperity and a significant agent for national well-being and success.

'Success,' Johnson writes, 'is about being vitally engaged in something worthwhile, making a difference for the better, and having fun while [he's] at it.' It's the urgency with which he delivers this message and his unswerving belief that we really can get on and do it that makes this such a stimulating and motivating book for the times we live in -- there is another way, we can break out from a life working for others and unleash our own potential for personal happiness and financial reward.
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