One trait that unifies all successful entrepreneurs is a never-ending thirst for knowledge. Entrepreneurs are among the most curious people I know, and they have to be. They are constantly learning from their own mistakes, and they’re learning from others around them.
There are so many ways to find information in the digital age, but nothing compares to the in-depth experience you get from reading a book. As a business owner myself, I know that time is in short supply, making it tough to find the time to read. That said, I think it’s important to make the time, even if it’s only 15-20 minutes per day. Anytime you read another entrepreneur’s book, it’s an opportunity for you to pick their brain for a little while, as if you’re having a conversation. That’s a priceless opportunity that you should take advantage of as often as possible.
Because there are so many books to choose from, I’ve listed three of my favorites here to get you started.
Sticky Branding: 12.5 Principles to Stand Out, Attract Customers, and Grow an Incredible Brand by Jeremy Miller (2015)
This book tackles an issue that almost every company wrestles with at some point: branding. Jeremy Miller’s family’s staffing company was on the brink of collapse, and something needed to change. Hoping to help the company turn things around, he began extensively researching other small-to-medium sized businesses to find out what was working for them.
What he found was that while the businesses were all very different, they abided by many of the same principles. By employing these principles, they were no longer just selling products or services; they were building brands that would create customer loyalty and household name recognition.
Miller takes branding, which is an intimidating topic for many, and he boils it down into 12 (and a half) digestible main points. He weaves narratives about his own experience with his family’s company with his observations and research about other companies. This book is information-dense, while still being a casual and interesting read. It’s full of real-world examples, and each chapter is followed by a set of actionable steps you can take with your own company.
I recommend this book to any business owner, but especially to business owners who are feeling stuck. All of the ideas in this book are simple, but game-changing. Even if you only have time to read one small section at a time, you’ll learn something that you can apply immediately.
Find it here on Amazon.
Reality Check: The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging, and Outmarketing Your Competition by Guy Kawasaki (2008)
Guy Kawasaki, the brain behind Apple’s earliest marketing strategies, has written a number of books. What I like about Reality Check is the fact that it feels like a “best of” from his collections of ideas. There are even a few chapters written by other entrepreneurs, giving the whole book the feeling of a journal or scrapbook.
The structure of the book is very loose, which is perfect for a busy entrepreneur who doesn’t have a lot of time to sit down and read. The chapters are short, so when you pick this book up, go to the table of contents and pick a chapter that applies to your situation.
There’s a lot of material in this book that would help any business owner, but I especially recommend this book to first-time entrepreneurs. Kawasaki dives into a lot of the practicalities of starting a business: business plans, mission statements, getting funding from investors, and so on. He uses a tough-love approach and does not beat around the bush about how challenging entrepreneurship can be.
Kawasaki’s wealth of experience is obvious in his writing, and he’s not afraid to admit his own shortcomings and failures. If you’re looking for a feel-good, inspiring read, then Reality Check probably isn’t for you right now, but if you want to just hear it straight from someone who’s been there, read this as soon as possible.
Find it here on Amazon.
The Daily Entrepreneur: 33 Success Habits for Small Business Owners, Freelancers and Aspiring 9-to-5 Escape Artists by S. J. Scott and Rebecca Livermore (2014)
This book is a little different in that S. J. Scott and Rebecca Livermore are not your typical entrepreneurs. Scott is a full-time author and blogger, and has written 20+ books about forming positive habits – everything from overcoming procrastination to exercising more regularly. Livermore is both a content strategy consultant for small businesses and a freelance writer. Together, they have written a book that contains both practical business advice and ideas for personal development and improvement.
This is a quick read and can easily be taken one chapter at a time. At the end of each chapter, Scott and Livermore have created exercises that will help you not only apply the concept you just learned to your business, but also turn that concept into a habit. This is not a read-it-and-forget-it kind of book. The goal of this book is to inspire lasting change.
For any entrepreneur who is feeling discouraged or distracted, this is a great book to read. It encourages you to look at your daily habits – one of the end-of-chapter exercises is to honestly log how much time you spend watching TV and mindlessly browsing the internet – and it shows you how small alterations to your routine can create hours of productivity.
Even though the word “entrepreneur” is in the title, much of this book is applicable to anyone who has goals they’re struggling to reach.
Find it here on Amazon.
These are just three of many, many thousands of books out there by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs. Books are an incredible tool for learning, and if you’re an entrepreneur yourself, you’d be amazed at what someone could learn from the book you would write. That’s why we’re so passionate at Maven about helping entrepreneurs get their stories out there. Contact us today to learn more!