Keeping the entrepreneurial spirit

COFFEE Republic is back. It may have faded away for a few years, but it has returned with vengeance. And Sahar Hashemi, the woman originally behind the brand, is back too, but not with Coffee Republic. Hashemi sold the company in 2001 to write the bestselling book Anyone Can Do It to encourage other people to start businesses. Her latest book, however, stems from the mistakes she feels she made at Coffee Republic.

She explains: “Businesses grow into different beasts. I came to feel that my business had outgrown me – that it had passed the entrepreneurial stage and that it didn’t need me anymore. I was wrong – all businesses need entrepreneurial spirit, even giant corporates.” This feeling motivated Hashemi to write her latest book: Switched On.

The book aims to inject entrepreneurial spirit into businessmen and women who have started to feel too comfortable in their current role. Hashemi says: “It happens to the best of us. There’s something about the cushiness of a “safe” job – the daily grind – that switches us off.” Whether you need the entrepreneurial spirit re-injected into your business or want to change your employees’ attitudes, here are Hashemi’s tips.

HABIT 1: ANYONE CAN DO IT
Inspired by her first book, Hashemi argues that all of us already have the tools required to be more entrepreneurial. “You just need to get over the ‘this isn’t me’ or ‘my company won’t go with it’ imaginary hurdles which may be blocking you. Adopting ‘switched on’ behaviour just needs a bit of practise.”

HABIT 2: STEP INTO CUSTOMERS’ SHOES
Hashemi says adopting the right attitude is easier if you force yourself to think of customers as real people, “not market segments with behavioural patterns”. “This also gives meaning and purpose to what you do,” she says.

HABIT 3: GET OUT
It is important to widen your perspective and think more broadly about where your company sits in the market, “it can’t help but boost your motivation and energy.”

HABIT 4: BECOME CLUELESS
Forget about all the processes, systems and procedures that you have had drilled into you: “The ‘how we’ve always done it’ mentality will only hold you back.”

HABIT 5: PROTOTYPING
Once you’re motivated, take your new ideas and put them into action. “It’s all for naught if you can’t bring them to life. Before they have a chance to fly away, grab those ideas and make them real.”

HABIT 6: FORGET FAILURE
Fear of failure will only hold you back. If you weren’t enjoying work anyway, what’s the worst that can happen? Try to get motivated by other people’s negativity. Famous entrepreneurs such as Brent Hoberman, the man behind Lastminute.com, and Sara Murray, the founder of confused.com, say they started their businesses because people told them they shouldn’t. As Hashemi puts it “Notch up on the nos.”

HABIT 7: BOOTSTRAPPING
“Big companies are bad at implementation,” Hashemi says. Entrepreneurial businesses and workers need to devise strategies to get over corporate hurdles.

HABIT 8: GIVE 100 PER CENT
“You can’t afford to leave part of yourself behind when you’re in work mode. The new era demands you take your head as well as your heart to work. Dispel the myth that you need to suppress part of yourself to be professional at work. The barriers between work and play are imaginary.”