Wake Up and Change Your Life by Duncan Bannatyne

Wake Up And Change Your Life is a book I purchased quite some time ago, I remember exactly, in an airport so I would have something to read during my flight. The UK version of the Dragon’s Den was one of my favorite shows at that time, second only to the Canadian version of Dragon’s Den. And it’s worth mentioning that Shark Tank was not in existence back then. At the same time I also purchased the book The Real Deal by James Caan, a fellow dragon of Duncan. They were two of my favorite dragons.

This book is very much a “do this and that” type of book, very direct and full of practical advise and case studies. If you don’t know where to start creating your fortune I highly recommend this book especially if you live in the UK. Also worth mentioning is the fact that the book starts by stating that Duncan was a penniless beach bum at age 30 and by age 37 he was a millionaire. How could anyone not read a book if that’s the first sentence?

You can only learn about business by being in business.

p. 16

All it takes to run a business is common sense

p. 30 Common sense is not that common anymore, and my personal opinion is that it’s due to the educational system

How much it costs you to produce your offering

How much you can charge for it

How many potential customers you have

p. 55

Top ten reasons why some new businesses fail

1 The founders don’t do enough research. […]

2 The founders aren’t honest with themselves.

. . .

6 The founders don’t understand cashflow. […]

7 The founders spend too much money. […]

8 The founders give up. […]

10 The founders didn’t work hard enough.

p. 59-60

SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats

p. 60

The Intellectual Property Office (www.ipo.gov.uk)

p. 63

Just because you’ve got an idea for a business, it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a business in the idea.

p. 67

The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR)

p. 67

Stop making excuses and start finding solutions.

p. 76

Employees, customers and clients expect you to know what’s best for your company, and you need to come up with the answers.

p. 79

A. What does your business do?

. . .

B. What excites you about the business?

. . .

C. What do you want out of it?

p. 79

We all have to sell something, and those of us who can do it well tend to earn a lot more money than those who can’t.

p. 80

Good salespeople make other people happy.

p. 80

understand what they get out of the transaction

p. 81

You need to give people a reason to choose you now.

p. 81

think of it as helping not selling.

p. 82

How to be inspirational

A. Know your business.

. . .

B. Be positive.

. . . But above all else, smile.

C. Show your desire.

p. 83

* Agree what each of you is responsible for.

* Set an achievable target (x sales, y gizmos produced, z pounds saved from the budget) for each of you.

* Set a deadline for achieving those targets.

* Meet at a regular time and place to update each other on your progress.

p. 84-85

A successful entrepreneur is one who can delegate effectively.

p. 86


p. 86

* Tell yourself it’s OK to get despondent; after all, if it was that easy, everyone would be a millionaire. Having a bad day, or even a bad week, doesn’t mean you’ll always have bad days.

. . .

* Get out that piece of paper on which you wrote down what your business is about, what excites you about it and what you want to get out of it. Reconnect with your original idea: if you can tap into the dream, you’ll be able to find that drive.

p. 87

Your success will be determined by four factors: your attributes, your skills, your contacts and your environment.

p. 87

Entrepreneurs tend to be an arrogant bunch – I think we have to be

p. 95 true

you’re only going to get repeat business if you do your job well.

p. 99

If you think small, you get a small business; if you think big, guess what, you get a bigger business.

p. 100

Helping makes us feel good

p. 108

Reciprocal is the important word.

p. 110

Time to reflect on your ideas and your progress is a very important part of starting a successful business.

p. 112

I think it will be useful to look more generally at the roles most companies need to have filled.

p. 113

The mentor

This can be one of the most important positions in a new company and often it is taken by someone who is not involved in the everyday running of the business.

p. 115

Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.

p. 119

I suggest that you prepare a cashflow forecast for your first two years of operation.

p. 130

Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People

p. 138

Anthony Robbins’s Awaken the Giant Within

p. 140

Treat them as you would a friend, be there when they need you and make them feel like they’re on the inside and involved in decision-making. Companies don’t succeed, people do.

p. 142

if you’re not a great leader, you won’t achieve what you want to.

p. 142

credit cards, it’s ‘Use them, don’t let them use you’

p. 153

It’s all about the execution, and not about the idea. […] it’s good execution

p. 161

the idea, the market, the team, the finance and the opportunity

p. 167 referring to making a pitch

I like to keep options open, so I tend to keep negotiations going for as long as possible and occasionally to say yes to things just to see what happens if we keep talking.

p. 173

1. A deal that allows you to get on with your business is probably better than a cheaper deal that takes time to pull together. You can always renegotiate later on to get a better price.

. . .

3. Don’t say any more than you have to. Giving away information can be like giving away ammunition.

p. 173

everything to do with running a business comes down to just one thing – common sense.

p. 181

Good management can make a good company great: take responsibility for the small stuff, and the big stuff will come much more easily.

p. 182

Make sure your company name means something to your potential customers.

p. 184

There are two things that drain the limited resources of new companies like nothing else – staff and premises.

p. 197

New Employer Starter Pack

. . .


p. 198

I was once involved in a legal negotiation, at the end of which the other side’s legal bill came in at over £1 million. Mine totalled £25,000. This was because I had agreed a fixed fee with my lawyer, and whenever I can I always fix my costs. You should never use professional services on an hourly or daily rate, because jobs will invariably take longer than the initial estimate. And when fees are several hundred pounds an hour, costs can skyrocket in a matter of days.

When I found out that it’s standard practice for an architect’s fee to be 6 per cent of the build cost, I searched for an architect who would work on a flat fee – I was not going to reward someone if their project overran on timing and costs.

It’s not just professional fees I like to fix. All my mortgages are at fixed rates, or on ‘cap and collar’ deals that limit the impact of interest-rate changes. I’m probably no better off because of these deals, but they have given me security and allowed me to forecast my future profits accurately.

p. 200

The bigger your business, the more money you are likely to save by registering for VAT.

p. 202

reduce your costs, find more customers, or get your existing customers to pay you more money.

p. 209

1 What are we getting right?

2 What’s not performing well enough?

3 What have we overlooked?

4 What have we learnt?

5 Where’s the opportunity?

p. 210

this meeting is about making progress, and it is important that successes are analysed in a way that lets you build on them.

p. 211

they didn’t move with the times. New businesses live and die on their ability to respond to change, and the more you harness what you’ve learnt, the greater your chances of success will be.

p. 212

One of the simplest ways of growing your business is to get repeat business from the same client.

p. 213

people are willing to pay more for one of three things: personal service, quality of the products and convenience.

p. 214


p. 217 about viral email

Be careful when offering money-off vouchers, however, as sometimes viral campaigns can be very successful and if you are issuing the discount at a loss, you could end up in trouble. Losing a few pounds on the odds sale won’t hurt you, but if you have to honour thousands of customers who rightly claim their discount, you could be seriously out of pocket!

p. 218

Conventional wisdom says that a customer need to see or hear an ad at least seven times before they will remember you.

p. 221

Understanding what motivates your employees is the secret to getting the most out of them.

p. 223

Survey after survey shows that people don’t move jobs to get a better salary.

. . .

Everyone on the team shared the bonus, from the nurses to the cleaning staff, so that everyone felt they were part of a team.

p. 228

Wherever possible, I want to pay for results and not effort, so whoever you are dealing with, try to find a way to incentivise them to do their work at the standard you expect.

p. 229

ask a candidate where they would like their career to take them

p. 230

I believe that delegation is essential to good teamwork

p. 232

* Make it clear what each person is responsible for.

* Make it clear how important their jobs is to the rest of the company.

* Give each team member realistic targets (selling so many products, coming up with a marketing campaign, finding a more reliable supplier)

* Give them a deadline for achieving their target.

* Give them the means they need to do this (the time, the raw materials, etc.)

* Let them know they can come to you if they have difficulties.

* Then just let them get on with their job without interference.

p. 233

it’s not just your company any more: if they’re properly motivated, your staff should feel like it’s theirs too.

p. 234

Effective delegation involves setting targets, empowering staff to meet their targets, and setting a deadline for a review of those targets.

p. 234

I see my ice-cream business as my degree in entrepreneurship.

p. 241

The Americans […] and there are even investors who would rather back you if you have a business failure on your CV! They believe that failure teaches you more than success

p. 241

If your first business doesn’t make it, I suggest you view your experience as a first-class education of the kind that money can’t buy.

p. 241

1 Keep focused on the big picture and don’t get distracted by anything that keeps you from your ultimate goals.

2 Make sure the people around you know what is expected of them and incentivise them to produce the results.

3 Actions speak louder than words: don’t talk about it, do it. And when you have to talk, say as little as possible. The less people know about you, the harder you are to read and I think this has helped me gain a reputation for being a bit hard. I’m tough, sure, but mostly I just don’t talk too much.

4 Work hard. The one thing that makes a difference in business, the single thing responsible for creating the most amount of wealth in the history of economics isn’t luck, or contacts, or legislation, it is graft. And lots of it.

p. 249

Passion was the key to overcoming obstacles and to creating success.

p. 252

you have to follow something with passion and determination for at least six months before you can assess how well it’s going.

p. 254