Lessons for budding entrepreneurs

Book review: What it Takes Raegan Moya-Jones' book is an entertaining and informative “warts and all” account of how she set up her business.


How I Built a $100 Million Business Against the Odds

Penguin, £14.99

Buy on Amazon

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Most people who write books about starting a company tend to play it safe, praising everyone involved and downplaying any obstacles. That frequently makes for a dull book. Happily, Raegan Moya-Jones doesn't follow this formula. Instead, her book is a "warts and all" account of how she set up aden + anais, which sells premium baby swaddles and blankets, while she was working in sales for The Economist. She grew it into a $100m powerhouse with operations around the globe.

As she admits, Moya-Jones is not someone who suffers fools gladly, and she is scathing about those she feels treated her badly or got in her way. They include her employers, who repeatedly passed her over for promotion, her business partner, Claudia, whom she fell out with, and the private-equity firm who eventually ousted her.

Occasionally these complaints come across as special pleading, notably her outrage that competitors would try to copy her concept, when she herself took the idea from a product that was being sold in her native Australia. But some of her other points are valid, such as the limited vision of venture-capital firms, and her candour makes the book entertaining and informative.

There are plenty of lessons for budding entrepreneurs too. Anyone who has contemplated starting a business or wants to find out what it is like to create one should definitely read this book.

Dr Matthew Partridge

Matthew graduated from the University of Durham in 2004; he then gained an MSc, followed by a PhD at the London School of Economics.

He has previously written for a wide range of publications, including the Guardian and the Economist, and also helped to run a newsletter on terrorism. He has spent time at Lehman Brothers, Citigroup and the consultancy Lombard Street Research.

Matthew is the author of Superinvestors: Lessons from the greatest investors in history, published by Harriman House, which has been translated into several languages. His second book, Investing Explained: The Accessible Guide to Building an Investment Portfolio, is published by Kogan Page.

As senior writer, he writes the shares and politics & economics pages, as well as weekly Blowing It and Great Frauds in History columns He also writes a fortnightly reviews page and trading tips, as well as regular cover stories and multi-page investment focus features.

Follow Matthew on Twitter: @DrMatthewPartri