#17 Sahar Hashemi: Bringing Entrepreneurial Spirit to Big Business

Image by Chris Gloag for Berkeley Citation


In the latest podcast episode of Future Forecast with Isabelle Ringnes, we were joined by Sahar Hashemi, a commended start-up entrepreneur and author, who shared her insights on the importance of entrepreneurial mindset in large companies. Sahar calls herself an accidental entrepreneur, because she randomly fell into running a business after a trip to New York. She was amazed by the choice and variety of coffee there, so she and her brother decided to bring the coffee-bar concept over the pond. That’s how Coffee Republic, one of the U.K.’s major coffee bars, was born.

Become your own customer

Sahar did not have an entrepreneurial background but through her work as a lawyer and knowing what she did not want to do, she took a leap and built her venture step-by-step. She contributes much of her business success to the fact that she was her own customer, so she could clearly indicate her wants and needs and put that into the business. Sahar highlights that leaders should get out of the door to see what there is – they should try the products/services, see where the customers are and what they want.

  • TUNE IN: In this episode of Future Forecast hear how Sahar Hashemi explains why to inject entrepreneurialism into business, to encourage creative thinking, and to never stop at a no

Open up to creativity

When you are an entrepreneur it is easy to explore new avenues and be innovative. As companies grow in size “entrepreneurial spirit gets stifled” says Sahar, and explains that leaders are led by business operations, which blinds them from seeing new opportunities. New ventures are, of course, more risky and companies want to keep their cash cows where stable revenue comes from, so they should do both, keep the old and seek the new (Garvin and Levesque 2006).


For a business to be ahead of its competition its leaders should encourage an innovative environment, where all ideas are good ideas to foster creative thinking from all levels, says Sahar. Internet giant, Google, actually pays its employees to innovate. Sahar found eight habits that will help employees to adopt an entrepreneurial attitude, which starts with “anyone can do it.” She simply explains that people just need to look at their private lives and think back to an unexpected situation where they had to be resourceful. That is entrepreneurial spirit.

Innovation is not always plain sailing

Business leaders will have to expect setbacks and deal with “nos,” but a “no” is just a subjective opinion. Company culture needs to “accept trial and error” and encourage failure says Sahar. This is how innovation happens. Companies also need to make tangible changes to break down hierarchy and a fake face.


Not everything needs to run perfectly in organizations, because then people will work in a vacuum on their own tasks and nothing new will move forward. But Sahar is optimistic; she can see some changes in businesses and believes that the young working generation will help to galvanize some much needed entrepreneurial fire.

  • Interested to hear more from Sahar Hashemi? Listen to the Future Forecast episode below where Sahar reveals why to inject entrepreneurialism into business, to encourage creative thinking, and to never stop at a no.