Every year there are 100’s if not 1000’s of business books published. But how do you know when you’ve read a good business book? When you’ve taken at least one lesson or idea from it and you’re still using it months, or even years, later, that’s how.
Business books represent incredibly good value. With so much knowledge, sometimes a lifetime’s worth of experience can be condensed in to a few hundred pages. I read a lot of business books and if I can take just one idea and implement it in my business, then that is money well spent in my opinion.
Some of the business books I’ve read have changed my thinking and some have given me specific knowledge on how to do something which I didn’t know how to do before. So each business book I read allows me to grow in different ways.
So in coming up with a list of 10, I’ve limited it to the the 10 business books that have given me the ideas that have had the biggest impact on my business. Hopefully they’ll help you get big results too.
The 10 Business Books That Changed My Thinking
1. The 4-Hour Workweek, Expanded and Updated Edition by Tim Ferriss has got to be the ‘bible’ for those looking to become location independent or fund a lifestyle. Don’t read too much into the title though, it’s not about working 4 hours, it’s about creating a business which works without you. This is the book that showed me how to eliminate repetitive tasks by introducing me to the concepts of automation, outsourcing, creating a ‘muse’ product and living a low information diet. Well worth checking out.
2. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity this book by David Allen has literally helped me get much more things done in less time. It uses very simple methods which really do work. You’ll be more organised than you ever dreamed and won’t spend your life searching for emails or papers you ‘knew you put somewhere’.
3. Rework is a complete business book packed full of wisdom from the guys at 37signals.com (the company behind the project management software Basecamp) and explains the principles that they’ve learnt from doing business over the last 10 years. Which turns traditional thinking about how to run a business, on it’s head.
You’ll get some surprising and eclectic insights in this business book such as: drug dealers get it right, nobody likes plastic flowers and good enough is fine. It’s a book you can read easily in bite sized chunks (each lesson is no more than a couple of pages) – each lesson will really challenge your thinking and inspire you to make a simple business work effectively.
4. E-myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It surprisingly, this business book this is not a book about E-business. It’s a book for any business, whether that’s virtual or bricks and mortar. It will help you look at your business as a business rather than a job you do to earn money. It’s a book I recommend to all my clients – It talks about the importance of systems and how to create them, it’s a very easy to read with a great case study/story running through it.
5. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t if you’re looking to create a great business of lasting value, then Jim Collins’ study of what makes great businesses over time has got to be on your reading list. Good to Great examines the key differences between those businesses that have lasting success and those businesses that are merely good. True, good enough maybe good enough, but if you want to make your business really special, then you should read this business book.
6. Purple Cow, New Edition: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin is a book about being different and standing out in your marketplace. If you’re setting up a business, you want to be different, not the same as the competition. It must be 10 years since I first read this business book, but it had a profound effect on me.
Seth’s book tells the story of travelling through France and looking at the window at the beautiful countryside filled with cows. After awhile the cows started to get a bit boring. So imagine if you were travelling along seeing all these cows looking exactly the same, when suddenly, right in the middle of the field is a purple cow.
Wouldn’t you sit up and take notice?
Basically Seth is saying that you need to be different and continue to be different to everyone else. Not only will you make more money, but you’ll have a business people want to deal with – e.g. Apple.
7. eBoot Camp: Proven Internet Marketing Techniques to Grow Your Business by Corey Perlman – Corey shares the ‘secrets’ of internet marketing so that you can get more business using web 2.0 technologies (social media and content marketing), but in a non techie way. It really is ideal for small business owners, those starting out or those who have a blog they want to promote. Basically anyone who starting out who wants a straightforward guide to show them the way.
8. How To Win Friends and Influence People is the classic business book by Dale Carnegie about developing your influence. Although written way before the internet, it’s advice is as true today as it was when it was originally written. The key mantra for BRT when we meet with our clients is always to be more interested than interesting.
9. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. This is the classic guide to productivity. Which whilst not as practical a business book as Getting Things Done, a couple of lessons (or habits) stand out for me. Namely: “Start with the end in mind” – in other words what are you trying to achieve? Secondly “first things first” – do important stuff before urgent stuff and finally “Sharpen the saw” – whilst this habit is actually about spiritual and physical rejuvenation I take this to be a reminder to continually invest in yourself whether through training courses or reading.
10. Rich Dad Poor Dad: What The Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not! By Robert Kiyosaki – I actually think this business book should be required reading for all everyone in school as it would provide them with a financial education most people never learn in a lifetime.
Basically it tells the story ostensibly of Kyosaki’s early life of two fathers an employed father and a business owner father and compares and contrasts between the two. It’s an extremely powerful business book. For example it compares taxes paid by a corporation vs taxes paid by an employee. An employee pays taxes before s/he has received his/her pay where as a corporation pays taxes on what is left. You will never view home ownership in the same light. If you only buy one business/financial book, buy this one – for less than $8 it’s likely to be the best investment you’ve ever made.
I like to keep up with the latest business ideas but I don’t always have time to read all the great business books that are out there. So I use Read it For Me which is a great site for summarising the key ideas from the best business thinkers. In less than 15 minutes you can watch, read or listen to the key ideas affecting business today. Highly recommended.