Ahead of the announcement of the Booker Prize winners in a couple of weeks, I thought I’d talk about the business books that have made the biggest difference to my entrepreneurial life, and the ones I would recommend to others for support, ideas and inspiration.

1.      7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Steven Covey

I like this title because it refers to effective people, not ‘successful business’ people! You are the heart of your business, and if you can be as effective as possible, your business will likely become more successful, but you will also improve many other areas of your life balance.

Now I’m sure you’ve heard references made to some of the content of this book such as the ‘think win-win’ frame of mind, and the ‘sharpen the saw’ ethos, but certain things that really resonate with me from this book are about being proactive and prioritising. The title says it all – it’s about making the right habits in your business so you can be effective. It’s bit of a bigger read than normal but a really good read, a really useful book, and certainly one I would recommend.

2.      The E Myth – Michael Gerber

This is a fantastic book for any particular start-up, or businesses in the early stages of scaling. The brilliant thing about it is that you can actually get it written for different sectors so that it is relatable – for example, Architecture, Law, Financial Advice, and one for bookkeepers is one that I’ve read before.

Now what I love about The E Myth is that it talks about systemisation in the business, and how you make the business more independent of yourself. It also talks about why most small businesses don’t work and what to do about it.

Gerber basically references that many small businesses are very dependent on the individual business owner and talks about three roles within it; the technician, the manager and the entrepreneur. The E in E Myth stands for entrepreneurial, suggesting it’s a myth that businesses are set up by entrepreneurs and more likely technicians. The book takes you through a step-by-step process of how to build your systems, how you quantify your systems and then how you start to structure those systems together, so a really good book I believe, in terms of building a business that can function without you, and still function efficiently.

3.      Go MAD – Andy Gilbert

Several years ago I worked in partnership with the author of this book. Andy has an organisation called Go MAD (Make a Difference), and when I was the national chairman for Rotaract GB&I he kindly printed a number of books for us to circulate amongst our members to read with the idea to pass onto others. Actually, I couldn’t let go of this particular book and hence it appears in my top 5 because I use it as a point of reference document that I go back to frequently.

It talks about making a difference in a few different ways and what I really like about this book is there’s a load of practical tools in here, little exercises that you can do every so often to work on making a difference in your business. For example, you’ve got the seven key principles of going MAD, having a strong reason why, defining your goal, planning your priorities, and taking personal action and responsibility. So a really great book, and a very good reminder of those things that we need to think about in making our businesses work for us.

4.      Eat That Frog – Brian Tracy

If you’re struggling with your time and looking to improve your time management then I certainly recommend a read of this book. Eat That Frog is based on the principle that if you have many tasks to complete, you start with the biggest ugliest one – if it was a frog you had to eat, you wouldn’t want it looming over you, you’d want it out of the way and to know that all the other frogs are smaller and prettier.

I’m sure you’ve heard the reference in terms of breaking down your time into small chunks and this book talks about that element of time management around a number of different specifics. It makes you focus on the key result areas, it makes you upgrade your key skills and identify your key constraints. Again, something I’m sure you’ve heard referenced is the 80/20 rule that Tracy talks about quite a bit in this book; 80% of your outcomes are driven by 20% of your activities. So, a really great read – quite a straightforward one too that might take only a couple of days.

5.      Traction – Gabriel Weinberg & Justin Mares

The last book I recommend to you is Traction – How Any Start-Up Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth. It was introduced to me fairly recently actually and it gets us to think about 19 different ways of building traction for your business.

But, before it goes into detail, the first few paragraphs give us a couple of early learns about how you can identify the things that work for you and in effect create a bullseye to focus on.

You start with the 19 ways to build traction around the edge of your ‘dart board’ if you like, brainstorm how they can make a difference to you, then bring three, four or five into the middle section where you test and measure them with some investment in terms of time and money. You can then identify the one that is the main traction method for your business to double down on and invest in.  

Another thing that the early paragraphs talk about is how we can dismiss some things with our traction models because we don’t like them ourselves. For example, if you don’t like receiving telesales calls, you’re unlikely to make telesales calls or if you don’t like social adverts in your Facebook feed then you may not want to do these ads. Traction makes us rethink our feelings towards all the methods. If they’re effective for our business and for the way people engage with us, buy from us, should we dismiss them simply because we wouldn’t engage that way ourselves? So again, a really good read from the outset and lots of good tips on the 19 methods.

What else is on my shelf?

So, they are my five favourite business books for entrepreneurs that I would certainly recommend having a read of to see if they can help you develop your business. I also have ‘Time to Think’, ‘Strategic Planning – Pragmatic Guide,’ ‘Who Moved my Cheese’, ‘How They Started’ and ‘No BS Ruthless Management’ on one small section of my office shelf! I’d love to hear if you’ve read any of these books, and talk about what you got from it, connect with me on LinkedIn or as always, you can get in touch with me for some free consultation or a networking 1:1.

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