For the past 15 years, I have mentored startups and new small business owners. At the beginning of each session, I provide a list of recommended books. Learning how to build a sustainable business is 80% on the job training. The experience gained during the process is invaluable. The remaining 20% is reading, attending seminars, and talking with fellow business owners. Keeping an open mind and fresh perspective is important for maintaining long-term growth.
In addition to the reading list, I suggest purchasing paperback copies and a journal. As you read through the books, it is a good idea to jot down notes and ideas. The journal is for strategic planning to incorporate the knowledge gained from the authors.
- Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki
All of Kiyoskai books focus on developing business models designed to generate passive income. To achieve sustainable wealth, income cannot be tied to the number of hours you physically work each day.
- The E Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber
Gerber provides an excellent framework for founders. He discusses the three types of business owners. Understanding your characteristics and tendencies is critical. Too often while mentoring startups, I observed the founder thinking like a technician with no capacity to view the business from an entrepreneur or manager perceptive thus creating problems for the founder and employees.
- Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
Stories stick. A brand or product can generate hundreds or thousands of likes. However, most products do not sell without a human connection. Stories connect us. Stories describe why you started your business and its purpose. Understanding how to connect with people is crucial otherwise you are shouting into a sea of digital clutter.
- Crossing the Chasm by Geoggrey A. Moore
A must-read startup classic. My favorite quote from the book is a quote without attribution. “If you don’t know where you are going, you probably aren’t’ going to get there.” The overarching theme, Moore discusses, is having a focus and finding your niche market. If not, it’s tough uphill battle to survive and grow a business. Learning to laser focus while being aware of your surroundings is an essential skill business owners must possess.
- Lean Startup by Eric Ries
Interwoven within Lean Startup is Steven Blank’s influence from his book 4 Steps to Epiphany which is another great book for startups. I selected Ries’ book for the list as I believe his message is more powerful especially about wasting people’s time.
- The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss
Ferriss makes you think about how you use your time. For new business owners, delegating and efficiently allocating resources is crucial to avoid wasting precious time and money. My favorite quote is, “Just because something has been a lot of work or consumed a lot of time doesn’t make it productive or worthwhile.”
- Books by Seth Godin
Take your pick; Linchpin is my go-to book. Each book serves a purpose and fills a need at different points during the launch and growth of a business.
- Work Simply by Carson Tate
Tate’s book is one my favorites and one of the three books I always recommend. I mention this book in conference presentations and workshops. Tate coaches’ readers on how to identify your productivity style. She offers strategies on how to work in your areas of strength. She also reminds us that time is our most valuable and precious asset.
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
During mentor sessions, I observed problems impacting the business that originates from the founder’s personality or is leftover childhood baggage. Either issue can have a negative impact on the business as the underlying purpose to build a business may be more than putting a new product in the market. Leadership is vital to all companies and developing solid principals enables you to stay focus on what matters most.
Dr. Cloud is one of my favorite non-fiction authors. The 9 Things You Must Do focuses on the behaviors of successful people while Necessary Endings provides the framework for ending energy draining projects, businesses, and relationships.
An overarching theme in these books is protecting your most valuable resource – time. The purpose of these books is to make the reader take a closer look at the business and think strategically about the future and how you allocation of resources.
Please share with us your favorite summer reading lists and which books you found helpful in starting your business.