Sahar Hashemi Mrs. Coffee Republic – Creativity and innovation on a daily basis are must-haves

17. January 2017 – Katharina Schlangenotto

She founded the coffee bar chain Coffee Republic “by chance” with the encouragement of her brother. They expanded it into one of the most famous British brands and a few years later, Sahar kicked off her second business Skinny Candy. Having started from zero, she knows all about an entrepreneurial mindset.

Are you ready to jump?

When she started Coffee Republic, she was absolutely clueless about building up a business or being an entrepreneur. As a lawyer, she knew nothing about marketing, branding, customer service or retail. Her becoming an entrepreneur happened by accident, she says smiling. “When I started my working life, as a lawyer, I believed creativity was for special people like Richard Branson.”

Today, Coffee Republic counts 110 coffee bars with a turnover of £30m. Neither her nor her brother Bobby, a former investement banker, felt any regret about the descision to quit the comfort of their cushy jobs.

The advantage of being clueless

She talks about her fears and doubts which she was faced with in the beginning. They still occured even though she was convinced by the idea of bringing good coffee to London. At the same time, she would doubt herself as she was a newbie to business as such and coffee in particular. Fear is part of leaving a comfort zone. “But be aware that this is fear speaking and not reason”, she recommends.
Today, she sees the advantage of being clueless. Why? Because it is impossible to repeat the things that have always been done. When you know nothing, you have no choice but to start from scratch and act like an entrepreneur: trying out new things, making mistakes, getting back up and moving on.

Follow your (business) dream!

She encourages everyone with a good business idea to believe in it and to have the guts to go for it. At the same time, Sahar Hashemi admits that being an entrepreneur is not exactly easy. She explains: “You need to be convinced by your idea in order to stick to it as you might hear many “nos”.” As long as one does his homework, being market research and a solid business plan, and is willing to work hard, things will work out. “Entrepreneurial ship is not for lazy people”, she ads.

A switched-on entrepreneurial mindest

For sure, in a rapidly changing future, people long for security and stability instead of more unsteadiness. However, such a mindset is dangerous because it can easily lead to a culture of internal focus and doing the same old things over and over again. It is like putting on a autopilot during work, she explains, just thinking about the next check at the end of a month.

However, a new, fresh way of thinking far removed from traditional preconceptions about our working life would be needed. “We need to bring our whole personality – not just our ‘professional’ selves – to work”, she says  “We need to move outside our comfort zone, ignite our innate creativity, and forget the ‘this is how we’ve always done things’ mentality.  Its complacency we should fear not failure. The future is all about being much more entrepreneurial in our job.”

She is convinced that, even though not everyone has the ability or wish to be a great entrepreneur, but everyone can be innovative and enterprising in whatever role he or she performs. She sees that “entrepreneurial spark” in each one of us.

You have it in you, you just need to switch it on!

In 2011, Sahar was nominated by Director magazine as one of its Top 10 Original Thinkers and 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 passioante speeches, Sahar talks about becoming and being an entrepreneur, the importance of leaving the famous comfort zone and the spark of creativity and innovation in all of us.

For further information on Sahar Hashemi, one oft he greatest and inspiring entrepreneurs of these days, please give us a call or send an email to:

Sahar Hashemi

Entrepreneur, Founder of Coffee Republic