Summer holidays are all about sitting on the beach and reading the latest literary blockbuster, but this year why not take an inspiring business book instead and mark your return from abroad by reinventing your company? To help you decide which book to pack or download, we’ve put together a list of ten great business books, presented in no particular order:
1.) The Art Of War (Sun Tzu)
Weighing in at a mere 64 pages, this is the slimmest book in our top ten, but size isn’t everything. This book has been a business bestseller for over 60 years and it's unlikely to leave the top ten for another 60. The Art Of War is less about thinking of your rivals as 'the enemy' and more about creating strategies to out-think, outflank and outperform your opponents, regardless of your size.
2.) Guerrilla Marketing: Easy & Inexpensive Strategies for Making Big Profits From Your Small Business (Jay Levinson)
It would be wrong to say that Jay Levinson invented guerrilla marketing, but he did give this method its name and made it popular. For those not in the know, guerrilla marketing is a form of off-the-wall thinking that either avoids or disrupts orthodox media. First published in 1983, Jay’s book has since become a self-help franchise with other guerrilla marketing titles covering social media, job hunting, consultancy and mortgage brokering.
3.) Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers Into Friends & Friends Into Customers (Seth Godin)
The premise of Godin’s book is that most people hate being sold to. So, instead of blatantly force-feeding them the message that your product is great, you should help to make their life better, simpler or more fun, and thereby become much more likely to make a sale. This also helps keep your customers on your side and happy to buy more. It’s a simple concept, but one that works well when done right.
4.) The One-Minute Manager (Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson)
Managing people is an essential part of being an entrepreneur, but it doesn’t always come easily. And most entrepreneurs are too busy actually running their business to spend 12 months doing an MBA. At 112 pages, The One-Minute Manager is a quick and easy-to-grasp read. There’s no academic language, and advice is illustrated with parables rather than case studies or statistics; it’s all about being a good manager, plain and simple.
5.) Built To Last: Successful Habits Of Visionary Companies (Jim Collins and Jerry Porras)
Jim Collins’ book looks at 18 of the world’s best-known businesses (from 1994) and examines what makes them so successful. This may come down to common sense, but most business owners really don’t have time to consider exactly what it is that makes Hewlett-Packard so innovative or what has made Disney last for 90 years. The fact that the companies selected continue to thrive almost 20 years after the book was first published proves that Collins knows a good thing when he sees it.
6.) Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action (Simon Sinek)
Over 11 million people have watched Sineks’ 2010 TED speech on how great leaders inspire action. As explained on his website, Sinek has a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership all starting with the ‘Golden Circle’, ‘the worlds’ simplest idea’, and the question ‘why?’ As Sinek explains, what businesses like Apple ultimately do is sell an ethos and a belief. To explain his theory, he looks at inspiring leaders like Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King, and the Wright brothers and analyses what it is that made them so successful and what you need to do to emulate them.
7.) The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms To Fail (Clayton M. Christensen)
Clayton’s tome takes you through the difficulties of selling revolutionary inventions to big companies and looks at how the managers and bean-counters in these businesses think and decide. The book also looks at how the storage industry progressed not by evolutionary but revolutionary thinking, and offers practical pointers on how to start discussions with management.
8.) The Startup Game: Inside The Partnership Between Venture Capitalists And Entrepreneurs (William H. Draper)
Draper effectively updates Jim Collins’ Built To Last, retelling that book from point of view of the financier. Himself part of a venture capital dynasty that includes both his father and son, Draper discusses the creation and evolution of the industry, but more interestingly the businesses he's funded, those he hasn’t, and why.
9.) Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Peter F. Drucker)
Drucker almost single-handedly invented the science of business management. From his first book published in 1939 to his death in 2005, Drucker spent his life advising management teams in some of the world’s largest and most influential businesses, explaining ways to be more effective. Everything he learnt is contained in this classic text.
10.) 43 Mistakes Businesses Make ...And How To Avoid Them (Duncan Bannatyne)
One of the Den’s fiercest Dragons, Scottish entrepreneur Duncan Bannatyne identifies some of the deadliest and most common traps ready to ensnare unwary businesses. Cataloguing a range of perils, from ignoring good advice to failing to take responsibility, this is a succinct and accessible guide to the business minefield illustrated with memorable examples from the Dragon’s Den TV show. Essential reading for any start-up entrepreneur.
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