Sahar Hashemi founded Coffee Republic, the UK’s first US style coffee bar chain, with her brother and built it into one of the UK’s most recognised high street brands with a turnover of £30m. Giving up highly professional jobs, she a lawyer in London and he an investment banker in New York, they made Coffee Republic one of the main players in the ‘coffee revolution’ that transformed a nation of tea drinkers into one obsessed with ‘triple decaf half-caf lattes’.
Sahar left the day to day management of Coffee Republic in 2001 and published a best-selling book ‘Anyone Can Do It – Building Coffee Republic from our Kitchen table’ which tackles some of the fears and answers some of the elusive questions about what it really takes to become an entrepreneur. It’s a personal story about two people who stopped ‘thinking about it’ and ‘did it’. ‘Anyone Can Do It’ has reached #1 on the Amazon business chart, and is ‘suggested reading’ for the London Business School entrepreneurship course.
In 2005, Sahar launched Skinny Candy, a high profile brand of sugar-free sweets labelled hip by Vogue magazine. Skinny Candy was sold to confectionery conglomerate Glisten PLC in 2007.
Her most recent book, Switched On, published in 2010, focuses on 8 habits that foster a more entrepreneurial mindset for employees. It is based on her experience of the transformation in culture when a small entrepreneurial company becomes big and successful when the obvious and easy entrepreneurial habits are often forgotten as bureaucracy takes over.
In 2011, Sahar was nominated by Director magazine as one of its Top 10 Original Thinkers, alongside Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Sir Jonathan Ive. The magazine praised her view that “Entrepreneurially minded talent shouldn’t have to leave large corporations in order to achieve fulfilment. Entrepreneurial behaviour, including ideas like bootstrapping, prototyping and celebrating failure, can help turn stuffy corporations into creative environments. They can also transform automatons into valued, engaged employees”.
In 2011 she was invited to join the Entrepreneurs Forum set up by UK Business Secretary Vince Cable to give informal personal advice to the government on enterprise policies. In June 2012 Sahar was awarded an OBE for services to the UK economy and to charity.
In her workshop Sahar focuses on the 8 key lessons that she learnt during this process, and these are brought to life in a highly interactive, engaging and enjoyable session. Sahar’s philosophy revolves around the fact that business is changing faster than ever; to survive and thrive in a world where nothing is permanent, we need to up our game. We need a new mindset: a switched on entrepreneurial mindset. Being ‘Switched On’ is about adopting 8 habits in your everyday working life which enable you to combine the security and resources of your organisation with freedom and creativity of entrepreneurs. Key habits Sahar can cover include:
- Habit 1: Believing that “Anyone can do it”
- Habit 2: Step into the customers’ shoes
- Habit 3: Get out – Expose yourself to fresh stimulus
- Habit 4: Becoming clueless – to stimulate creativity
- Habit 5: Prototyping
- Habit 6: Notch up on “No’s”
- Habit 7: Bootstrapping – finding a way to make things happen
- Habit 8: Take 100% of yourself to work