Must have guidance for new start ups

David Mellor is a wonderful communicator and his book From Crew to Captain is a must-have for those considering self-employment. Inspirational but reassuringly practical, there are lots of anecdotes, tips, checklists, exercises, sage advice and warnings. This is self-help book that really works and that I heartily recommend it to those who are planning to start their own business.

By H Menhenett
Stands out amongst a sea of "Start Your Own Business" books

One visit to your local book shop – let alone a browse through Amazon – will reveal an overwhelming number of “Start Your Own Business” (SYOB) books. A wave of entrepreneurial spirit has clearly been sweeping across the UK for a few years now as viewing figures for programming such as “Dragons’ Den” will testify. However, despite the growth, is there room for yet more titles on this increasingly crowded bookshelf?

My answers are “no” AND “yes”:

I say “No” because if a see another me-too, jump-on-the-bandwagon, SYOB book I feel I’m going to seriously disturb the hushed atmosphere of the next Waterstone’s I find myself browsing through. Too many people seem to be simply rehashing the structure and content of existing books to create a derivative works that differ only in cover design and title. They might deliver good sound advice, but what’s the point in writing – and especially paying for and reading them – if they don’t add anything new?

However, I say “Yes” because in this sea of one-size-fits-all, there is plenty of room for some bespoke tailoring. This is where Mellor’s book fits, a made-to-measure item for the same price as off-the-peg.

Rather than try to address the whole SYOB market and weaken the book in the process, Mellor has taken his own advice and primarily addressed a particular niche. (It’s amazing how many SYOB authors don’t take their own advice in matter!).

If you’ve decided that there has to be a better way and are leaving – or considering leaving – a big corporation in order to begin your own enterprise. Then this is a must read. Three reasons:
1) It is specifically written with your situation in mind.
2) Mellor took exactly this path himself when leaving Deutsche Bank and 25 years “in the City”.
3) It offers concrete advice, exercises, worksheets rather than the usual generic guidance.

I agree with a previous reviewer about it being a fast read and leaving you wanting more, but there are enough practical to-dos to keep the reader very busy both during and after reading. I also agree with that reviewer’s opinion of Michael Gerber’s E-Myth Revisited; a really inspiring read. It and Mellor’s book work very well together: Gerber’s is great for big picture inspiration, whilst Mellor’s gets down to more practical issues from the perspective of what a UK “crew member” needs to do to become a successful “captain”.

Any buddy entrepreneur should read them both. I have, and I’m already working hard on how my new born company expands into the Indian market… but that’s another story.

By John Hamlen
Useful and accessible

This book is a useful guide for people who want to stop working for someone else and start their own business, but are unsure where to start. It won’t help you decide what your business should be, but once you know, it gives you a structure to work to, and offers plenty of warnings and good advice. Very easy to read. It can be read in a few hours, and then should be read again, more slowly. In some ways, that’s my only slight criticism of the book. The advice is great, but occasionally lacks depth. Many people might be looking for precisely this approach however, so it’s just a matter of personal taste rather than criticism perhaps.

Mellor is an advocate of Gerber’s “E-Myth” approach which I also highly recommend. Reading both books would give anyone a great start in the business world.

By Will Carter
full of ideas

The author moved from a successful and no doubt a rewarding role to working for himself. This can be a challenging journey to make. The first challenge relates to making the initial move. Some may feel forced to do so by dint of circumstance. Some will choose to do so. But success in this transition certainly requires clarity of thought and determination in action.

So where can this book help? Well, it is based on experience. That helps because it feels grounded. The author’s feet are very definitely “on the ground”. I liked the self diagnostic check and frameworks which help the reader think about themselves. But I also liked the business planning and sales planning process illustrations and tools.

Particularly useful here are the indications given about effort and reward. So when the author tells us sales is a numbers game I know he is right from personal experience. But it is good to see indicative numbers. So sales actions “convert” to business on the ratio of 1,500 actions lead to 150 meetings, 30 proposals and 10 wins. This seems simple but it is helping the reader be realistic. A great idea is not enough. Effort is always needed! The book is also full of ideas about sustaining your effort to grow your business. It may be tough but this author has done it and communicates his experience in a lively but always thoughtful way. Well presented, this is a book worth reading if you are embarking on the small business venture start- up journey. Good luck!

Mellor is an advocate of Gerber’s “E-Myth” approach which I also highly recommend. Reading both books would give anyone a great start in the business world.

By Colin Carnall, CEO, Cass Business School