5 Business Books Every Business Owner Should Have

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Where do successful business men and women go to get advice, instruction, and inspiration? Well sometimes it is just as simple as going to your local bookstore.

The books that follow cover: Innovation, inspiration, leadership, creativity, business structure, sustainability, technology, organization, marketing, and work ethic. The theme running through these books is that great ideas can turn into great businesses if you have the right attitude, resources, and structure.

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t
by Jim Collins
2001

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To find the keys to greatness, Collins’s 21-person research team read and coded 6,000 articles, generated more than 2,000 pages of interview transcripts and created 384 megabytes of computer data in a five-year project.

After establishing a definition of a good-to-great transition that involves a 10-year fallow period followed by 15 years of increased profits, Collins’s crew combed through every company that has made the Fortune 500 (approximately 1,400) and found 11 that met their criteria.

While the companies that achieved greatness were all in different industries, each engaged in versions of Collins’s strategies. This carefully researched book focuses on what Collins calls Level 5 Leadership—“a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will”—as the critical factor in those transformations. Such natural leaders “channel their ego needs away from themselves and into the larger goal of building a great company,” which begins with getting the right people—those with discipline and resolve—in the right positions. Challenging the conventional notion of the outgoing, high-profile CEO, an effective leader moves with selfless determination, inspiring average performers to become great producers. Many of Collins’s perspectives on running a business are amazingly simple and commonsense.

The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Business Don’t Work and What to Do about It
by Michael E. Gerber
1985

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The E-Myth, Michael Gerber dispels the myths surrounding starting your own business and shows how commonplace assumptions can get in the way of running a business. Next, he 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 it is a franchise or not. Finally, Gerber draws the vital, often overlooked distinction between working on your business and working in your business. After you have read The E-Myth Revisited, you will truly be able to grow your business in a predictable and productive way.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
by Stephen R. Covey
1989

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Having developed the concept of this groundbreaking, long-term bestseller by studying literature going back more than 200 years, Covey bases his approach on relatively immutable personal human values. Unlike many a self-improvement author, however, he doesn’t promise a quick fix; rather, he calls for a paradigm shift—a revolutionary change in one’s perceptions and interpretations of how the world works. And with different thinking comes different actions that will profoundly affect one’s productivity and effectiveness.

Be proactive. Begin with an end in mind. Put first things first. Think win/win. Seek first to understand. Synergize. Renewal. Covey presents a highly structured, holistically integrated methodology for creating balance, and hence success, in one’s personal and professional lives.

How to Win Friends & Influence People
by Dale Carnegie
1937

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Selling more than 15 million copies How to Win Friends and Influence People is just as useful today as it was when it was first published, because Dale Carnegie had an understanding of human nature that will never be outdated. Financial success, Carnegie believed, is due 15 percent to professional knowledge and 85 percent to “the ability to express ideas, to assume leadership, and to arouse enthusiasm among people.” He teaches these skills through underlying principles of dealing with people so that they feel important and appreciated. He also emphasizes fundamental techniques for handling people without making them feel manipulated.

Carnegie says you can make someone want to do what you want them to by seeing the situation from the other person’s point of view and “arousing in the other person an eager want.” You learn how to make people like you, win people over to your way of thinking, and change people without causing offense or arousing resentment. For instance, “let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers,” and “talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.” Carnegie illustrates his points with anecdotes of historical figures, leaders of the business world, and everyday folks.

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
by Malcolm Gladwell
2000

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The premise of Malcolm Gladwell’s book draws on research and real-world examples wherein he presents an educated and entertaining analysis of mass behavioral change that is strikingly counterintuitive.  Among Gladwell’s insights are: little changes can have big effects; when small numbers of people start behaving differently, that behavior can ripple outward until a critical mass or “tipping point” is reached, changing the world. Gladwell’s thesis that ideas, products, messages and behaviors “spread just like viruses do” remains a metaphor as he follows the growth of “word-of-mouth epidemics” triggered with the help of three pivotal types. These are Connectors, sociable personalities who bring people together; Mavens, who like to pass along knowledge; and Salesmen, adept at persuading the unenlightened.

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About Author

Bridget is President of The Get Smart Web Consulting Group, a web presence and digital strategy firm with offices in San Diego County California and Collier County Florida. But more importantly she is a web, tech, and Twitter addict!