As many of you know, I am a big fan of reading.
The main reason for that is because I’ve always been passionate about learning new things, and reading has been an effective way for me to act on that passion.
Even with all the different forms of media today, reading inspires and excites me. Reading has given me new perspectives of the world and a deeper understanding of who I am. Reading has opened the doors to greater wisdom and knowledge for many, and I believe it can do the same for you.
I realize, though, that not everyone has the same opinion of reading – and that’s totally fine. Value and knowledge can still be obtained from other forms of media, such as video content (YouTube, Udemy, SkillShare) and audio content (podcasts, audiobooks).
Regardless of how you gain knowledge and information, it’s important to remember that long-term success is built on the foundation of learning.
The best books, videos, and podcasts are those that teach through the life experiences of the individual creating the content. We’ve all heard a thousand times over that failure is the best mentor, and that nothing can supersede life experiences as the greatest teaching method.
My 5 favorite business-related books teach principles for success that are based on real-world experiences. Here they are!
(Click the titles to buy them from Amazon)
Stephen Covey nails it with this book. The principles Covey writes about are not only beneficial for entrepreneurs but can help us out as we strive to better manage our time and relationships. What this book helped me do was identify my core values and identity. It helped me better organize my life and taught me how to use my time to do what was most important to me.
I also learned how to listen with empathy and emotion, an overlooked skill in the business world. A positive consequence of reading this book that I didn’t anticipate was greater self-awareness. I’ve become more skilled at analyzing my thoughts, feelings, desires and intentions, which has helped me make more rational decisions.
Here are some quotes from the book that I enjoyed:
- “When someone disagrees with you, you can say, “Good! You see it differently.” You don’t have to agree with them; you can simply affirm them. And you can seek to understand.” (Page 296)
- “Private victories precede public victories.” (Throughout)
- “People who exercise their embryonic freedom day after day will, little by little, expand that freedom. People who do not will find that it withers until they are literally, “being lived”.” (Page 100)
- “Trust is the highest form of human motivation.” (Page 187)
- “All the well-meaning advice in the world won’t amount to a hill of beans if we’re not even addressing the real problem.” (Page 262)
- “The law of the harvest governs; we will always reap what we sow – no more, no less.” (Page 318)
- (Quoting Emerson) “That which we persist in doing becomes easier – not that the nature of the task has changed, but our ability to do has increased.” (Page 329)
If you have an idea for a business you’d like to start, you need to read this book this weekend. Nail It then Scale It is very tactical and attacks the micro of what is needed to identify a business opportunity, test it on a small scale, then expand when the market is ready. The process discussed in the book focuses very much on speaking with customers and iterating ideas until problems in the marketplace are solved. Get ready to learn a lot with this book!
Here is the Nail It then Scale It strategy discussed in depth throughout the book:
- Nail the Pain
- Nail the Solution
- Nail the Go-To-Market Strategy
- Nail the Business Model
- Scale It
I think you’ll appreciate how detailed and practical this book is. I would consider NISI more of a blueprint or recipe for building a successful business than anything, and I think you’ll find the information to be of massive value.
The 4 Hour Work Week has become an iconic book that emphasizes the importance of using our time to do what we truly care about. Ferriss jumps into specifics of how each of us can free up our schedule and go do the things we have always wanted to do. This book provides a balance of inspirational wisdom and practicality that I believe every entrepreneur can benefit from.
What’s beautiful about The 4-Hour Workweek is how Ferriss weaves ideas that we all dream of – automating our income, taking random vacations (mini-retirements), working from home – into a task-oriented tapestry. He writes about how to actually pursue the dream life you’ve always thought about, but never tried to reach.
The motivation for me to start a side business 18 months ago came after reading this book and realizing it was easier than I was making it out to be.
Here’s a quote about the art of undecision: “The more options you offer the customer, the more indecision you create the fewer orders you receive – it is a disservice all around… The art of ‘undecision’ refers to minimizing the number of decisions your customer can or need to make.”
Here are Ferriss’s thoughts on time: “Too much free time is no more than fertilizer for self-doubt and assorted mental tail-chasing. Subtracting the bad does not create the good. It leaves a vacuum. Decreasing income-driven work isn’t the end goal. Living more – and becoming more – is.”
This book might be lesser well-known compared to the others I have mentioned, but it is every bit as powerful. As entrepreneurs, one of our biggest responsibilities is selling. From day one of our new business venture, each of us needs to be selling new customers on the value of our products and services. What we often neglect in the sales process is asking customers questions to better understand their needs and underlying motives – two things we simply cannot sell without.
Power Questions provides hundreds of questions we can have in the back of our mind as we are working with clients, creating content, and pitching our ideas. These questions can also help us improve our relationships with others and deepen the meaning of our everyday conversations. I also think it’s important that we develop a pattern of asking ourselves these questions, and diving deep into our own minds and hearts about what matters most.
Here are some questions you’ll read about in Power Questions:
- What in your life has given you the greatest fulfillment?
- If you had no constraints – children, money, your spouse’s job, whatever- what would you like to do?
- What do you feel is the right decision for you?
- What do you wish you could devote more time to?
- If you had to write your obituary today, what would you like it to say about you and your life?
- What has been the happiest day of your life?
I read this book after watching Simon’s TED talk on leadership, and the book did not disappoint. The ideas and principles that Sinek writes about can help each of us as we strive to build businesses, gain loyal customers, and create a unified culture in our workplaces.
Sinek’s biggest focus is to help each of us realize that customers don’t buy what we do, they buy why we do it. The biggest and best brands around the world have clearly defined and articulated their WHY of being in business.
Here are some quotes from the book:
- “It is the cause that is represented by the company, brand, product, or person that inspires loyalty”
- “As Harley-Davidson fits into the lifestyle of a certain group of people and Prada shoes fit the lifestyle of another group, it is the lifestyle that came first.”
- “Authenticity is when you say and do the things you actually believe.”
- “The role a leader is not to come up with all the great ideas. The role of a leader is to create an environment in which great ideas can happen.”
- “Achievement comes when you pursue and attain WHAT you want. Success comes when you are clear in pursuit of WHY you want it.”
- “Regardless of WHAT we do in our lives, our WHY – our driving purpose, cause, or belief – never changes.”
As you consider which of these 5 books you’ll read first, just remember that each will help you as you strive to build your business. Also keep in mind that there are countless other books that can provide you with inspiration, guidance, and knowledge on your entrepreneurial journey.
My hope is that each of us can continue learning and growing everyday, without ceasing, until we become the person we dream of being.
So, read on. And remember – you are amazing.