I have been inspired by Entrepreneur Magazine’s recent list of “must read” (“hands on”) business books and so I have decided to create my own recommendation list. These are books that I have read (some many times) and have all proven to be useful to me during my career.
The Emyth Revisited by Michael Gerber.
OK – although these are meant to be “in not particular order”, this book is simply the best for anyone running or considering running a small business.
The basic premise is that many people start their own company but end up simply self-employed (i.e. creating a job for themselves and not a business). In order to help run, grow, and build a business you need to be able to detach yourself from doing the work so that you can take a more strategic view. Simply put, the concepts in this book work – please read it.
The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes.
Another great book with real practical advice on how to build a sales-based organisation. This is not a “how to sell” book. But it covers a wide number of organisational areas that need to be developed in order for you to build your own “sales machine”. Topics include goal setting, marketing, time management and the need for “pig headed discipline” in order to succeed.
Selling the Invisible by Harry Beckwith.
If you are running a service business, then this is a great book for you. It is full of tips on how to make something intangible (service) into something more tangible (like a product). I also like how it is structured into small chapters that make it a great book to pick up and put down as you have time.
Focus: The Future of Your Company Depends on It by Al Ries.
This one is not as “hands on” as the others – but I believe that many small businesses fail – some before they even get going – because they lack focus. This is a great book to help understand the benefits of staying “on message”.
Duct Tape Marketing by John Jantsch.
Only just finished this book but it is packed with so much useful advice to anyone starting or running a business that it instantly gets added to my top 5 list. It will really help get some structure to your marketing and be a constant reference.
The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris.
This is not a small business book, but I think if you look past the “tango around the world while you outsource your life” element of this book – there are some sound lessons that are not a million miles away from those in Emyth.
This can be one of those paradigm shifting books; mainly in helping you realise that “9-to-5” is only a social convention.. it is not something that you must adhere to. If you are able to apply the lessons from Emyth and detatch from working “in” your business and start to work “on” your business, then who says that you need to be in the office all the time to do that.
This book will also help you look at what areas of your business (and your own workload in particular) could be handed off to someone else. Either within your business to one of your employees or to offshore resources if appropriate.
Well now you’ve inspired me to make my top 5. I will send you the link on Twitter when I finish.
What do people think about some of the classics like “How to Win Friends and Influence People” and “The Prince”?
I agree 100% with what you said about The 4-Hour Work Week. The book makes you realize how much time you waste doing something because of habit or compulsion.