If there’s one place that I could spend hours (maybe even days or weeks) in, it’s a bookstore. A well curated independent bookshop is my kryptonite. I can’t resist.
Even when I’ve vowed to stop purchasing books, in an effort to Kondo-fy our home, it’s rare that I walk out of a bookstore empty handed. There’s just too much to learn, too much to read, too many words to be inspired by.
About 10 years ago I began a love affair with business-related books. I know, it sounds a bit dry and boring, but trust me when I say that if you’re a business owner, a solopreneur or entrepreneur, a freelancer or aspiring to any of the above — books can help you grow, shorten the learning curve and save you both time and hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars. The amount of wisdom I’ve gleaned from authors like Scott Belsky, Marcus Buckingham and even Richard Branson is massive.
And so this summer, as you collect your summer beach reads (which might include some fiction, historical dramas or even a romance novel or two), I’d love for you to throw one of these weightier books into the mix, especially if you don’t usually read these types of books. I’ve curated some of my favorites, as well as a few new-to-me picks, in the hopes that you’ll come back from your summer break adventures, well-read and ready to take your work to the next level!
THE 2015 SUMMER READS LIST :: Business Edition
This book was a game-changer for me. Simon walks his talk and is one of the most inspiring speakers I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing. Start With Why is a manifesto of sorts, for people who want to inspire others. It teaches you how to be a great leader that inspires others to not only follow your words, but to take action. Every business owner, entrepreneur and freelancer (and really, every human being) should read this book. If you’ve never heard of Simon or his work, this TedTalk is a great introduction to his philosophy.
The War of Art is a classic book, geared towards creative-types who run into the dreaded R monster — Resistance. Resistance is that thing that keeps you from sitting down and writing that next blog post or releasing your next product/service. It’s the voice in your head that tells you “this might fail”, “there’s already lots of this same stuff in the marketplace”, “who do you think you are charging so much?”. Nasty little resistance. Steven’s tips are spot on and help you kick the R-monster to the curb. All business owners and freelancers should have this book on their bookshelf/Kindle. And re-read it often.
Paul Jarvis is a master of the online world. He’s been designing websites for big companies and entrepreneurs for more than 15 years. What does that mean? It means he knows a thing or two about how to succeed online. I adore Paul’s honest, no bullshit approach to business. Grab this book and add it to your summer reading list. I guarantee you’ll walk away with more than a few gems!
This was one of the first books that I bought that felt super businessy. And I learned A TON from it. If you’ve ever wondered how brands like Apple, Tesla and Zappos create such buzz among their loyal fans, this book will tell you. You don’t have to have a huge advertising budget. You just have to master the art of creating passionate fans that do your marketing for you (for free). It’s a really fast, easy read and packed with wisdom.
Trying to get clients to purchase your products and/or services (i.e. selling) is really all about influence. And it’s challenging for even the most established businesses, but especially if you’re just starting out. Back in 1984, Robert Cialdini published this widely celebrate book, and created the Six Principles of Influence. It’s worth noting that these principles can very easily be used to mislead or deceive people — but obviously that’s not what we’re about, as ethical business owners. Applied with honesty and integrity however, these principles build trust and set you apart from the rest. This is a bit of a heady read but filled with useful information.
As you can see by the titles thus far, at least 50% of being a better business owner is about knowing yourself. I have yet to read this book, but it’s going to be in my Summer stack for sure. Triggers is all about the situations in life that provoke us to behave in ways that are inconsistent with our own self-interest. In the business world (and in life), this can be fatal. Knowing your own triggers and how to manage them could be the difference between standing up or repeatedly falling down. It’s one of the highest rated books on Amazon right now — grab a copy and let me know what you think of it!
This one’s been on my must-read list for years now — I think it’s time to get on it. Rework challenges the status quo, showing you a better (and faster) way to move forward in business. It’s about taking action vs. talking about taking action. It shows you how to be more productive, get exposure and build your business in sustainable ways that don’t break the bank. It’s all about making business feel easier. How refreshing! Can’t wait to get my hands on this one.
I have to admit, I haven’t been the biggest fan of Gary V (for many reasons, but mostly because his personality just doesn’t feel like a fit with mine). However, the dude knows what’s up in the online world. He’s garnered massive success in his business and when that happens, I take notice. The Thank You Economy is about the way we communicate and interact with each other both online and off. And how to use that to your advantage as a business owner. Using social media platforms and other tools to generate 1-to-1 attention with your customers is quite possibly the single most important activity in your business and will garner loyal and repeat clientele. As I always say, customer experience is EVERYTHING. This book is about harnessing word-of-mouth power and generating a customer-focused culture within your business. A must-read.
You’ve likely heard the idea that you need to put in 10,000 hours if you want to be an expert at anything in life (that averages out to about 40 hours a week and 5 years). This idea was coined by Malcolm Gladwell in his popular book Outliers. Gladwell says that it’s not just a person’s personality or drive that makes them successful, it’s also their culture, upbringing and personal experiences that shape them as leaders. It’s a fascinating read for anyone who aspires to greatness.
It’s inevitable — if you’re in business, you will face a time when you wonder if it’s even worth it anymore. A launch might not go off as expected, finances might become a source of stress, you might feel like it’s time to throw in the towel. But there’s a bit of an art to determining whether or not it’s indeed time to call it quits. Seth Godin shows you how to know if you’re in a “dip” (a temporary setback) or a Cul-de-Sac (which will never get better no matter how hard you push). This is truly an indispensible book for every single person on the planet, business owner or not.
Stop trying to make everyone else’s business strategies and ideas work for you. Stop trying to fit “the mold”. Instead, create your own. Business coach and strategist Tara Gentile explains how to discover your own plan for success, including how to get quiet (block out all the noise), and find (and carve) your own path. If you struggle with all of the cookie cutter advice out there, and know there has to be an easier way of doing things (i.e. YOUR way), this is the book for you!
What are your summer must-read’s? Any great business books to share? Drop them them in the comments, so I can add them to my list!
Top photo by Anna Hamilton