Book of the week: How to build a business

Cover of Flying HighFlying High My Story from AirAsia to QPR
by Tony Fernandes
Penguin, £18.99
(Buy at Amazon)

Business books tend to be either educational or inspirational. Educational books focus on teaching business lessons, while inspirational books aim to motivate the reader to follow their dreams. Flying High is clearly in the latter group.

After a few anecdotes about his time at boarding school and university, Tony Fernandes’s memoir looks at his career in the music industry. It then goes on to explore how he set up AirAsia. The final few chapters cover his adventures in Formula One, the Premier League and as the host of The Apprentice Asia.

As well as some amazing stories, there is a lot of useful advice for entrepreneurs. The section on how Fernandes bought a tiny, debt-ridden private airline for $1 and then turned it into one of Asia’s largest operators contains some valuable tips about running a start-up on a shoestring and negotiating legal and regulatory barriers. He is also candid about his mistakes. Those who use complex financial instruments to “manage” their risk should take heed of what happened to AirAsia, when it dipped its toes into the world of derivatives.

Fernandes may not be as well known in Britain as Richard Branson, who also made his name in airlines, but if you are interested in how someone goes about building up a successful company from scratch, you will definitely enjoy Flying High.