My first serious job was in finance. I later worked in marketing for a number of years, with clients of all sizes - from a large PLC to a farmer selling his own CDs - so I have seen business from many angles. I'm particularly fascinated how people start and build enterprises. The process of refining ideas, finding the right people, growing the business, the inevitable moments when it all seems to be going wrong, the magical moments when something goes unexpectedly right...
I wrote The Beermat Entrepreneur with Mike Southon, who co-founded the very successful Instruction Set training company. It was an Amazon bestseller, has sold over 75,000 copies in the UK and has been translated into nine languages. A fully updated new edition was issued in 2018, and was Book of the Month in WH Smith Travel (that's the Smiths at airports and railway stations) in September of that year.
A series of Beermat Guides (see below) followed the original publication of Beermat Entrepreneur.
I also ghostwrite (see the appropriate section) and write business 'copy': blogs, marketing materials and so on - click to see my thoughts on this here.
The Beermat Entrepreneur
Turn your good idea into a Great Business
Before this book came out, books on entrepreneurship had been rather dry texts featuring lists of dos and don'ts. The Beermat Entrepreneur bought the process to life, and became a classic. I still regularly meet people who were inspired by it, and it is still selling. Basic truths don't change.
In late 2017 / early 2018, Mike and I produced a new edition, completely updating the old material. We love it!
“I recommend this book to any aspiring entrepreneur.”
Charles Dunstone, Founder, Carphone Warehouse
“This book, for me, says it all… It should become standard reading for all employees, managers and founders of start-up businesses.”
Professor Sir Christopher Evans OBE, Founder, Merlin Biosciences
“Mike and Chris understand with unusual clarity what drives a start-up.”
Tim Smit, Founder, The Eden Project
"If I were to advise an aspiring company founder in any part of the world to read just one book, this would be it.”
Robert Sutton, Professor of Organizational Behaviour, Stanford Business School, and author of Weird Ideas That Work
Sales on a Beermat
This is the next most successful Beermat book - not surprising, given that Mike was a salesman by training (and nature!) He even managed to get Stephen Fry to write an intro for it. It's a demystification of the sales process, free of the acronmys that clog up so much sales training ("Never forget, MJHDGCV!"). Selling, the book shows, is a balance of likeability and being methodical.
"A truly practical guide for everyone, from the novice to the experienced sales professional."
Michael Hartig, Corporate Director, Larger Business, Barclays Bank
"Highly entertaining, original, and full of practical and concise tips."
Iain Henderson, Partner, Accenture
"Mike and Chris’ books are acquiring a reputation for readability and entertainment, but also for having a lot to say. Sales on a Beermat carries on a fast-growing tradition."
Lucy Armstrong, Chief Executive, The Alchemists
Finance on a Beermat
I wrote this book with two qualified (and very entrepreneurial) accountants, who ran a business offering part-time FD services to start-ups. Between them, they had experience of almost every kind of business and its financial needs. This book covers all aspects of start-up finance - in a way that (I'm particularly proud of this) many people have said is unusually clear.
“If you want to get someone to invest in your business, read this book.”
David Beer CA, Chairman and Founder, Beer and Partners
“The finance function isn’t just a ‘rear-view mirror’, but an essential tool for the ambitious business. Here’s a book that really understands this, and explains in jargon-free English how to use it.”
Paul Walker, Chief Executive, The Sage Group
"At last! Finance truly demystified.”
Gita Patel, Director, Stargate Capital
Marketing on a Beermat
This was my chance to make my own contribution to the Beermat series. I had worked in marketing, so this was a labour of love. I take the reader through the marketing journeys of six very different new businesses, from a shop to a consultant and a high-tech start-up.
Yes, the marketer's toolkit has evolved since this book is written - social media now play much more of a role. But the basic principles and philosophy of marketing don't change. I think they are expressed with great clarity here - and so did my fellow marketers.
"Comprehensive and easy to read, this book is just right for the uninitiated... Perfect for any small business, start-up or entrepreneur."
The Marketer (Chartered Institute of Marketing Magazine)
The Boardroom Entrepreneur
This is the odd one out in the Beermat series: a book on 'Intrapreneuring', being entrepreneurial within a corporate context. This goes in and out of fashion - it was 'in' in the early 2000s, thanks to the internet. As the decade advanced, it became less so, and when recession arrived, the corporate hatches got battened down. Its time will come again and this book will have a lot to offer when it does.
"Valuable reading for entrepreneur and corporate manager alike."
Bill Samuel, Director, Foyles
"Clear-headed, practical, profound." Chris Nichols, Ashridge Business School
"If you’re kicking your heels in a large organization, read this book and start stirring things up." Jason Porter, co-founder, Friends Reunited
Think Like an Entrepreneur
There is a fascinating area where business success and personal development overlap, and this book is placed slap in the middle of that. It is a mixture of NLP techniques, some of them jaw-droppingly powerful, and business wisdom. It is Napoleon Hill's Think and Grow Rich for the twenty-first century!
"A masterclass in the tools, techniques behaviours and processes of turning an idea into a successful business. A must-read for all budding entrepreneurs."
Suzan Barghash, Regional Director, Cargill.
"Demystifying, inspiring, rejuvenating!"
Bernie Wales, Entrepreneur
Myths About Doing Business in China
Though this is a business book, it is at its heart a book about Chinese culture, how people live and think in what will soon be the world's largest economy. Harold and I make a good team. I have been a foreginer looking in at China, often with bafflement. He is Chinese but has lived much of his life in the west and experienced similar bafflement on how 'we' do things... Between us, I feel, we built an excellent bridge.
"Unlike many China-for-outsiders books, this one gets to the heart of how things are done here. It is written with a real love of China and Chinese culture, but never loses sight of the difficulties that newcomers will encounter."
Fu Ping, HR Manager, Kraft Foods
"An excellent read." Humphrey Keenlyside, China-Britain Trade Review