When starting a company, there are many resources available to you with folks telling how, why, when and where to start your business in order to become a millionaire at an early age. Unfortunately, many, if not most, of these resources are mediocre, misleading, or just not useful. Having access to resources to assist you is critical for your long term success, however. Since your time when you start your company is at a premium, you want to ensure that every moment you spend reading relevant books is time well spent.
To assist with that goal, here is a list of 5 books that I have found invaluable in starting my businesses. Why not a top 10 list? Because it’s hard enough to find time to read 5 books.If you’re starting your company a list of 10 books to read is completely intimidating. So start with these:
- The Little Red Book of Selling. Every entrepreneur will need to know how to sell. Whether you’re selling prospective employees on your vision, investors on your company, or customers on your product, you need to be able to sell. Even if you have a partner who is responsible for sales or hire a a sales person, you need to understand a methodical sales process. This book takes you through an industry-generic process for the sales cycle. It’s a fast read, and a book to keep for reference. I gave one to each of my sales team members and executives.
- Good Luck: Creating the Conditions for Success in Life and Business. I’m not normally a fan of the business teaching-by-parable book genre, but I do like this book as a motivational book for anyone starting their own company. Without becoming too trite or platitudinous it is another short read that will put you in the proper perspective for starting your company and putting your efforts into the context of your overall life plan. This is a great book to read, discuss with someone you trust, then give to someone else you think will benefit from it. I’ve given this book to at least 5 or 6 people over the years.
- The Entrepreneur’s Manual. This is an older book, out of print (get a used copy on Amazon.com AMZN -0.07%), but a classic. It is not particularly well organized, but an amazing compilation of insights that will come back to you as you continue to grow your business. This is one to keep for reference, and break open every 4-5 months to skim through the chapters.
- The Portable MBA in Entrepreneurship. Another classic reference tome, much better organized than The Entrepreneur’s Manual with a different set of best practices and references. Another one to keep on the bookshelf. Reference it as needed.
- 3-D Negotiation. Another critical skill for any entrepreneur is to be able to negotiate. Much as fighting in a skilled way isn’t about wading in and swinging wildly and aggressively without direction, negotiation isn’t about shouting loudly and playing hardball on every point. This book is used by the Harvard Business School for some of their executive level negotiation courses, and emphasizes the setting of the negotiation game board before the negotiation even starts, so that the actual tactics employed during the negotiation become secondary in importance. I discussed this style of negotiation before in a blog post on “Musashi Style Negotiations.”
Do you have any books that were particularly inspiring or helpful to you in starting a business? If so, please add to the comments below!
Thank you for sharing your list of 5 books. I will begin with The Little Red Book of Selling. I would like to know who has inspired/influenced you, and do they have any presentations captured on CDs?
Hi Mike, thanks for reading and for your comments! I’ve been inspired the most by entrepreneurs that have overcome hardship to achieve their success more than by the “right place, right time” entrepreneurs that achieved their success in a minimal time through timing, connections and luck. In the first category I would put Chris Gardner (Pursuit of Happyness) Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Cuban. In the second category I would put Evan Spiegel (Snapchat), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Chris Gronet (Solyndra). There is overlap between the two categories, for instance some may argue that Mark Cuban was in the right place and right time to capitalize on streaming video with Broadcom, although he worked hard and long at two other startups before he was able to position himself in that right place, at that right time. Some might also argue that Mark Zuckerberg has demonstrated capability as a CEO through the continued increase in value of Facebook. I think also that most people prefer the idea of the ‘get rich quick’ dream over the idea of living in squalor for a decade before they get their first deal. Following the adage that life is a journey, I think the journey of hardship builds more character, and more worthy experiences, than a fortune that is easily won. At the end of your life do you want to know that you’ve done amazing things, or that you inherited wealth or just happened to be in the right position at the right time?