Jamie Waller’s, ‘Unsexy Business,’ features twelve case studies of UK entrepreneurs who’ve achieved extraordinary success in markets where gloss and glamour don’t ordinarily reside.
Centred around the theme of “where there’s muck, there’s brass,” each case study presents a hero who has a tricky journey on the road to success. There’s decision making on the hoof, working around the clock and a persistent refusal to regard shut doors as dead ends. With no feeling of “that’s great, but it doesn’t apply to me and my small business,” each story is highly relatable and there’s plenty of opportunity to learn from the entrepreneurs’ mistakes.
In nearly every single case, there’s one key factor that has given the entrepreneur his or her driving force, and is the reason behind their success. These range from sibling rivalry to having simply invested too much time and energy to give up or give in, and include proving a point, for example proving to a parent that eschewing a traditional educational path was the right decision. Learning what makes others tick, and discovering it’s rarely about the money, makes for a very illuminating read.
What this book doesn’t do is attempt to portray the impact that this drive to succeed may have had on their loved ones or how they balanced their business goals with other important aspects of life. There’s brief acknowledgement of long hours, broken friendships, house remortgages and divorce, but then, this is fundamentally written to inspire and motivate.
Unsexy Business should also not be seen as a substitute for obtaining personalised, specialist advice. For example, it refers to Charlie Mullins of Pimlico Plumbers as having given his plumbers “a choice” as to whether they were employed or self-employed. In practice, there is no such choice, and the fact that the company has found itself in court on this very matter goes to show that even the most seemingly astute business person can find themselves in choppy waters with regards to business basics.
Is it worth a read? Absolutely. There’s no jargon or buzz words and it’s all very down to earth.
The notion I was left with most of all was this: These entrepreneurs started out as ordinary people who weren’t born with a silver spoon or given a leg up. Nor did they have a unique idea that was brand new to the world. They may have had friends and family rooting for them but more than anything, they had grit, the determination to succeed and a huge capacity for working hard. Each and every one of the entrepreneurs faced challenges that threatened the very existence of their businesses and overcame these through being open minded, rolling with, and adapting to change. That in itself is inspiring. At the end of the book you may well feel, if it worked for them, why not me?