I love books. Books are full of such raw, invaluable information, and you can literally have real advice from the world's best mentors, all sitting on your shelf. There are thousands of fantastic business books out there, but if you're thinking about starting your own business, these are seven titles you HAVE to read!
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The Lean Startup by Eric Ries.
How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
This is a book I wish I read before starting an app. There are some groundbreaking ideologies and bits of advice that everyone should know, and it was easy to place this in my top picks.
Most startups fail, but a lot of those failures are preventable. The Lean Startup changes the way companies are built and how new products are launched. In the words of Eric Ries, a start is "an organization dedicated to creating something new under conditions of extreme uncertainty." This can be anything from one person in a garage to a Fortune 500 boardroom. What they have in common is a mission to penetrate that fog of uncertainty to discover a successful path to a sustainable business.
The book is inspired by lessons from lean manufacturing and relies on validated learning, rapid scientific experimentation, to learn what customers really want with counter-intuitive practices that shorten product development cycles and measure actual progress without resorting to vanity metrics. It enables a company to shift directions with agility, altering plans inch by inch, minute by minute.
Rather than wasting time creating enormous business plans, this book offers entrepreneurs a way to continually test their vision, to adapt and adjust before it's too late. The author provides a scientific approach to creating and managing successful startups in an age when companies need to innovate more than ever.
The E Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber
Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It
Another book I wish I read when I first started, this is an absolute must for first time business owners. It's also set out in a story (Like the Rich Dad, Poor Dad style) so it's very easy to read.
In this classic, Michael Gerber uncovers the myths about starting your own business. With years of experience, he points out how common assumptions, expectations and even technical expertise can get in the way of running a successful business.
Gerber walks you through the steps in the life of a business - from entrepreneurial infancy through adolescent growing pains to the mature entrepreneurial perspective: the guiding light of all businesses that succeed - and shows how to apply the lessons of franchising to any business, whether or not it is a franchise. Most of all, he draws the vital and often overlooked distinction between working on your business and working in your business. This
The most valuable thing I learned from this book was about setting up systems, and organising your company in a way that can run without you. This book will help you grow your in business in a product, assured way. Definitely read it.
Built to Sell by John Warrillow
Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You
Similar to the E Myth is Built to Sell, also set out as a story for an easy but incredibly valuable read. According to the author, the primary mistake that entrepreneurs make it building that a business that relies too heavily on them. When the time comes to sell, buyers aren't confident that the company can operate on it's own, even if it's profitable!
In the story, Warrillow introduces you to a fictional business owner called Alex who is struggling to sell his advertising agency. He turns to an old entrepreneur friend name Ted, who encourages Alex to pursue three criteria to make his business sellable:
1. Teachable: focus on products and services that you can teach employees to deliver.
2. Valuable: avoid price wars by specialising in doing one thing better than anyone else.
3. Repeatable: generate recurring revenue by engineering products that customers have to repurchase often.
This fictional story goes through all the steps, and at the end it summaries all the key points into actionable advice so you can implement these strategies in your own business. A great read.
Good to Great by Jim Collins
Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't.
My mentor referred to this as the 'Business Bible'. Whilst it's quite text heaving meaning it's not as fun as the E Myth or Built to Sell, this is an absolute classic that enlightens you to the differentiator between average companies and great companies.
In his previous book Built to Last, Collins shows how great companies triumph over time and how sustained performance can be engineered into the DNA of an enterprise from the very beginning. But what about the company that is not born with great DNA? How can good companies, mediocre companies, even bad companies achieve enduring greatness?
What are the universal distinguishing characteristics that cause a company to go from good to great? Using tough benchmarks, Collins identified an elite set of companies and compared them to other companies that just did average. Over five years, the team analyzed the histories of all twenty-eight companies in the study. After sifting through mountains of data and thousands of pages of interviews, Collins and his crew discovered the key determinants of greatness -- why some companies make the leap and others don't.
In this book you'll discover the key findings such as Level 5 Leaders, the Hedgehog Concept (something I particularly liked), a Culture of Discipline, the Flywheel and the Doom Loop. Collins quotes that some of the concepts fly in the face of our modern business culture and will upset some people. Perhaps, but who can afford to ignore these findings?
Check out the bestseller Good to Great for one of the most useful and informative reads you'll find.
The #AskGaryVee Book by Gary Vaynerchuk
This is from one of my favourite people, Gary Vee. If you've ever watched or listen to the #AskGaryVee show then I know you'll already be a huge fan and a part of the #Vaynernation! Although for any newcomers and especially first time business owners, you'll thank me for this one!
#AskGaryVee showcases the most useful and interesting questions Gary has addressed on his popular show. Distilling and expanding on the podcast’s most urgent and evergreen themes, Gary presents practical, timely, and timeless advice on marketing, social media, entrepreneurship, and everything else you’ve been afraid to ask but are dying to know. Gary gives you the insights and information you need on everything from effectively using Twitter to launching a small business, hiring superstars to creating a personal brand, launching products effectively to staying healthy—and even buying wine.
Whether you’re planning to start your own company, working in digital media, or have landed your first job in a traditional company, #AskGaryVee is your essential guide to making things happen in a big way. This isn't the last time you'll see Gary in this list!
Zero to One by Peter Thiel
Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future
A terrific book from Peter Thiel, Investor, co-founder of PayPal and the first investor of Facebook. It's endorsed by Mark Zuckerberg himself as well as the might Elon Musk, so you know you're about to read some fire.
What valuable company is nobody building? The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. If you are copying these guys, you aren’t learning from them. It’s easier to copy a model than to make something new: doing what we already know how to do takes the world from 1 to n, adding more of something familiar. Every new creation goes from 0 to 1. This book is about how to get there.
Give this book a read, although I recommend physically reading it. Who knows why, but one of the most successful people on the planet decided to get the most painfully boring narrator to read the audiobook. Don't let it ruin the knowledge!
Jab Jab Jab Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk
How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World
Another title by the man Gary Vee made it to the list. Being a marketer myself, it's important to understand that social media plays such a huge role in today's business, and in this very visual and entertaining book, you'll learn the core fundamentals for social success.
Gary shares his raw and hard-won advice on how to connect with customers and beat the competition. A mash-up of the best elements of Crush It! and The Thank You Economy (both also worth reading) with a fresh spin, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook is a blueprint to social media marketing strategies that really works.
When managers and marketers outline their social media strategies, they plan for the “right hook”—their next sale or campaign that’s going to knock out the competition. Even companies committed to jabbing—patiently engaging with customers to build the relationships crucial to successful social media campaigns—want to land the punch that will take down their opponent or their customer’s resistance in one blow. Right hooks convert traffic to sales and easily show results. Except when they don’t.
Thanks to massive change and proliferation in social media platforms, the winning combination of jabs and right hooks is different now. Vaynerchuk shows that while communication is still key, context matters more than ever. It’s not just about developing high-quality content, but developing high-quality content perfectly adapted to specific social media platforms and mobile devices—content tailor-made for Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Tumblr.
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Time to head to the book store! Did I miss one of your favourites? Let me know on Twitter at @mitchills. Happy reading!