Whether you're a newly minted entrepreneur or you’ve been running a small business for years, it’s never too late to learn something new. As Henry Ford once said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”
Whatever challenges you're facing, chances are, someone else has already been there, done that. And even in this age of digital communication dominated by 140-character tweets and brief blog posts, a great book is still an invaluable tool in your pursuit of lifelong learning.
Below are seven books, in no particular order, that I believe every business owner should read. Most relate directly to business, but some are more personal.
Take the time this summer to put down your phone, step away from your computer and pick up one of these suggested books.
Raising Capital: Get the Money You Need to Grow Your Business by Andrew J. Sherman. Getting access to capital is still an arduous task for growing, entrepreneurial companies. Sherman does a masterful job providing in-depth information (in more than 400 pages) on all the available financing options for business owners. Learn about business plans, legal issues, government programs, venture capital, alternative funding sources and worldwide trends.
Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs and Sugar - Your Brain's Silent Killers by Dr. David Perlmutter. Entrepreneurship isn't just about working 16 hours a day to grow a successful company. Business owners need to eat healthy and exercise to avoid disabling the engine that drives their businesses. Grain Brain is an excellent book on the surprising truth about what wheat, carbs and sugar are doing to your brain—something to consider as you strive to be successful. This book was recommended to me by Pat Croce, entrepreneur, author and former president of the Philadelphia 76ers basketball team.
Chasing Daylight: How My Forthcoming Death Transformed My Life by Eugene O’Kelly. O’Kelly was CEO of KPMG when he was diagnosed with late-stage brain cancer. This is the book he wrote from the time of diagnosis until his death less than four months later. It came out in 2008, right as the Great Recession started to put small companies out of business all across America. Reading it had a profound impact on me. It’s a poignant message about how to live a balanced, meaningful life.
Do!: The Pursuit of Xceptional Execution by Kevin Kelly. Kelly offers a look at companies from around the world who've been tremendously successful because of their fanatical commitment to execution. These examples prove the old saying, “Actions speak louder than words.” This book is a good reminder that you don’t have to have everything figured out—you just have to do!
Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin. Good enough is not enough; it’s time to be remarkable. For more than 20 years, Godin has immersed himself in the theory and practice of marketing. In Purple Cow, one of 17 books he’s written, he argues that companies are either remarkable or invisible, and he provides several case studies on brands that stand out from the crowd. When the product or service you provide is remarkable, the marketing is easy. And if you like this one from Godin, you may want to check out some of his others, such as Tribes, Linchpin and The Icarus Deception.
Springboard: Launching Your Personal Search for Success by G. Richard Shell. This book is based on Shell’s popular “Success Course” at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. Shell walks readers through a series of steps that can help you develop your personal definition of success (in both your work and your personal life), clarify your individual goals and determine what it will take to achieve success. He includes personalized assessments to help you understand your past and envision your future, combined with extensive scientific research on happiness, relationships and careers.
Age of Context: Mobile, Sensors, Data and the Future of Privacy by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel. You don’t have to be a techie to run a successful company, but you do need to understand some key concepts and trends that can be used to keep your business ahead of the competition. Scoble and Israel provide a crash course on the five technological forces that are shaping our lives—mobile devices, social media, big data, sensors and location-based services—and how they intertwine. Learn about the benefits and risks associated with these technologies in both our professional and personal lives.
What books would you recommend to fellow business owners? Share with us in the comments below.
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