In this information-reliant society, we are constantly confronted by a barrage of books ranging from every topic imaginable and in every possible format. Many of these books are as intellectually poisonous as they are popular.
But this should not stop us from reading now, should it? You ever heard the saying ‘readers are leaders’?
That phrase points out how important gathering knowledge through reading is to our development in all areas of life.
Now, let us narrow down our search to business books. One of the best ways to be successful in business is to learn from those ahead of you. Through books you can learn seemingly mundane things like how to choose a business name, or even complicated ones like how to raise capital for your new business. But many budding and new entrepreneurs have refused to accept their ‘greenhorn’ status in the world of entrepreneurship.
Instead, they try to establish businesses without commensurate knowledge or prior advice from old heads and veterans in the business world. Such businesses are bound to fail eventually – guaranteed.
We might not always be able to have a face to face with such veterans but thankfully, a lot of them write. It is almost impossible to not find a useful book from an experienced head in every existing business industry.
Now, I love to read and I love to learn. Heck, I think I know more books than people (still trying to figure out if that is a good thing). This passion for reading has driven me to read a lot of materials – some utterly useless, now that I think about it.
However, I have also come across some really great reads that have helped me in different ways in my journey to business success.
Are you considering starting up a business of your own? Do not take a step further until you have read the books I will recommend in this article.
Now, I should say here that you would not be a failure if you do not read these books and you would not be a success either by just reading them. Take what you will learn from reading these books and apply them to create a successful path for yourself. Below are what I tag the best books to read before starting a new business.
- The 4-Hour Workweek (Tim Ferriss)
Timothy Ferriss is an American writer and entrepreneur. His book “the 4-hour workweek” was published in 2007. This book was inspired by his own enforced sabbatical from a 14-hour workweek that kick started his escape from a workaholic lifestyle.
This book strongly rejects the traditional approach to life planning where people work their ass off; take very little time off from work over the years and save up money for retirement.
When I first came across the title of this book, I thought it was talking about literally working 4 hours a week, so I immediately jumped on it. Well it is not about that and guess what? I am glad it is not; it is so much better than that.
Tim talks about building a business that works for you and not a business that you work for (get it?). It is about having a lifestyle where you are in control and not one where circumstances dictate your activities. With such a lifestyle you can escape the 9 – 5 grind and live more while working less no matter where you are.
There is an avalanche of practical advice and case studies in here that will help you rethink and reinvent how you should do business. These will help to be effective in business and personal life without burning yourself out.
You can visit his blog to learn more.
2. The Wealthy Barber (David Chilton)
This book is written in novel-like, common sense fashion, unlike any other business related book. In the book, three siblings go to see the barber in their hometown because they hear that he has somehow become very rich. They want to find out how he became wealthy on a barber’s salary.
Roy, the barber character has made his money by applying basic principles in personal finance management, which he makes known to the siblings.
The wealthy barber can be referred to as the basic financial advice for the average person because the concepts presented in here make a lot of fundamental sense.
I recommend this book to anybody who has no idea how to begin dealing with his/her personal finance issues. It is a great place to start when you want to clean up your financial mess.
However, if you are already financially savvy or an avid reader of business literature, this book might come off as frustratingly simple and redundant.
3. Richest Man in Babylon (George Clason)
It was originally different informational pamphlets distributed by banks and insurance companies. These pamphlets were gathered together and published as a book in 1926.
Set in ancient Babylon, The book tells the story of Bansir and Kobby who go to meet Arkad, a childhood friend, to seek financial advice.
This book will challenge and open our eyes to the common, albeit unconscious misconceptions we have about handling personal finance. Our thoughts really shape our reality because; they shape our beliefs, which lead to actions that soon become habits.
So if you have the right thoughts about finance, it stands to reason that you will most likely avoid the cataclysmic domino effect that arises from just thinking negatively or incorrectly. This book will help develop the right thoughts about personal financial management that can help you become the wealthiest version of yourself.
4. The Art of The Start (Guy Kawasaki)
This book is somewhere in between a quick reference and a voluminous authority on the subject of starting a startup, or anything really – whether it is a business or non-profit.
He discusses everything from raising money to hiring the right people, from positioning your product to developing a brand, from managing a board to developing a community.
The lessons in this book will apply to organizations whether they are financially self- sustaining or seeking funding from venture capitalists and angel investors.
Guy Kawasaki includes plenty real life, historical examples and first hand experiences, making it relevant concise and entertaining. This is way better than many other books that do little more than merely presenting concepts.
5. Focal point (Brian Tracy)
In this book, Tracy helps us to see how we can build organization and discipline into our daily lives so as to be more productive.
This book addresses frequently asked questions like:
- How can I gain control of my time and my life?
- How can achieve optimum success and balance in my career and personal life?
- How can I speed up the achievement of all my goals?
Focal Point will show you how to achieve satisfaction professionally and personally by developing an almost divine clarity about what they want and the steps to take to achieve their objectives.
6. The New One Minute Manager (Ken Blanchard & Spencer Johnson)
This is an updated edition of the original bestseller, the one-minute manager, written three and half decades ago.
The book tells the story of a young man who goes to seek advice from a manager of great repute. This manager reveals to him to his core managing philosophy; “people who feel good about themselves produce good results”
He later goes on to talk to three lower-level managers on the reputable manager’s team who reveal to him the three secrets of what they refer to as one minute management.
- Secret one – Setting one-minute goals: The first manager talks about setting up three to five concisely formulated goals tied to key areas of responsibility. The idea is that the goals should be outlined such that they are readable in a minute.
- Secret two – One minute praise: The second manager talks about praising employees when they do something right and encouraging them to do more of the same. These praises must be immediate, brief and specific; they must be able to be carried out in a minute.
- Secret three – One minute redirect: This is slightly different from the third secret in the original edition. Here the manager responds to an employee’s mistake by confirming the facts of the mistake with the employee.
The manager then goes on to express to the employee how he/she feels about the mistake and pauses to give time for the employee to ponder over the mistake (the reason for the pause is different in the original edition).
Finally, the manager confirms that their concern is with the mistake and not the employee and reaffirms his/her trust in the person.
The values presented in this book stay true to the original, albeit a change in stylistic approach, character names and overall politeness. All these are done for the book to shake its age and remain timeless. This will definitely ensure that its ideas resonate with a new generation of readers.
7. Millennials Who Manage (Chip Espinoza & Joel Schwarzbart)
One thing is sure; millenials and boomers are not the same in the way they approach life and business. The circumstances that they were born into are so different that it is a challenge trying to find a common ground.
But there is a common ground – and misconceptions about said common grounds.
For example, there is a largely held belief that millennials want to take on leadership roles and responsibilities but are not willing to put in the work. Another is that they are not willing to make the sacrifice expected of leaders – such as working long hours at the expense of family.
The authors of this book believe that these notions are misleading and are willing to put in just as much if not more work as previous generations. This book, unlike many others, does not see millennials as future leaders; they believe we are already living in the future.
They use their own research as sources to lay out a step by step the challenges faced by millennials in today’s workplace. Then go ahead to prescribe best practices for millennial managers already in leadership positions or aspiring to be in such a position.
8. Lean Startup (Eric Ries)
Here Ries, presents a new approach that is revolutionizing the way companies are created and products are launched.
The Lean Startup stresses that startups should be more innovative than conventional if they want to survive, or better still escape competition in the market place. After all, he believes every startup should always be dedicated to creating something new.
Ries presents a number of counter-intuitive practices that will help you shorten product development cycle and measure actual progress. And this without wasting your budget on seemingly relevant business processes that will take you nowhere.
This book simply works for everyone – from the ‘garage’ entrepreneur to the CEO with a corner office.
9. Zero to One (Peter Thiel)
Thiel holds to the premise that we live in a time of technological stagnation. Almost every new technology today is at best a competitor or worse, a shameless rip-off of already existing technologies. He believes the greatest secret of our time is learned when we realize that there are still uncharted frontiers to explore and new inventions to create.
He then goes ahead to show us how to find these new frontiers and create new things.
Zero to One proffers a hopeful view of the future of progress in America and a new way to think about innovation by asking the necessary questions that will lead you to finding value in unexpected places.
This is definitely worth your time. And just in case you are looking for more reason to bother reading this book, here’s something to remember. Peter Thiel is a billionaire, co-founder of PayPal and is the first investor that Facebook had in 2004. Also, this book has been endorsed by fellow wealth merchants from Mark Zuckerberg to Elon Musk.
So you can be sure he knows what he is talking about. That should be enough to make you jump up and go get a copy for yourself.
Of course the list is not exhaustive, but these books have been tried, tested and trusted. And if your goal is to build a successful startup, then you should start with these.
Are there any books listed above that you have read which has made a tremendous difference in your business? Is there any book not listed here that you will recommend? Please share your thoughts in the comment section. And kindly share this post.