“Why running your own business is easier than you think” was the title of Luke Johnson’s presentation at the Oxford Literary Festival today. The title, he admitted, was the creation of his editor at Penguin and not once did he suggest that running a business is easy. After listing his various ‘failures’ and skimming through successes like Pizza Express, he took us through his 15 maxims for success in business. Here are my selected favourites:

No. 2. Optimism – you have to be a glass-half-full person who can picture success in your mind and work towards that success.

No.4. Always work with business partners – more ideas, more support, more fun.

No.6. It takes time – it’s investment, not speculation.

No.8. Obsessives are good! Low ambition is not good, but being single-minded is.

No.9. Execution beats theory. You need a business plan but nothing beats action and hard work.

No.10. Remember that the downside is limited – you can only lose your stake in your business*. The upside is unlimited.

No.11. Believe in Kaizen – continuous incremental improvement and evolution of your business.

*Your downside is limited so long as you don’t give a personal guarantee. Never give a personal guarantee. If someone asks for one, find another source of funding. There are plenty of banks and lots of other sources, including crowdfunding.

Luke’s other maxims are to be found in his new book, “Start It Up: Why Running Your Own Business is Easier Than You Think”. A great presentation of inspiring business tales. If you are thinking about running your own business, he might the one to make you turn your dreams into reality. If you already run your own business, Luke Johnson will make you reflect on what’s holding you back from greater success and inspire you to achieve more.