With the rise of the ‘freelancer economy,' many of us are enjoying a life that we never imagined. Engaging with clients around the world, working on new and exciting projects every day in many cases from our home office or café – life could be a lot worse.
If you’ve escaped the rat race or you are looking to grab hold of your entrepreneurial streak and start a business, it’s important to be informed and armed with plenty of knowledge from the world’s thought leaders in business.
One of the most important things about being in business, especially as a startup, is being aware of the power of keeping informed, in touch and reading ‘one book every month to make you a better marketer or better business person.'
With this in mind, I’ve put together my top 10 books for aspiring entrepreneurs. This collection is my ‘go-to’ when I need a little inspiration and guidance and an excellent way to get the occasional push needed to jump over a business hurdle or pursue my goals.
1. Seth Godden – The Purple Cow
This man wrote the book on marketing (ok, well there were a few other before him, Levitt, Kotler) however, there are not many other ‘how to’ books that make more sense without a 4+ year marketing degree than this.
Ok, so you are driving through France, it is a beautiful day, the sun is shining, there are green pastures everywhere, white picket fences and dairy cows as far as the eye can see. Now for most of us, this is amazing, beautiful and different from inner-city living. But after a while, it is the same, it becomes boring, and we lose interest. Until we see a purple cow! Enough said.
In the world of standing out and being noticed there is no better marketing book for the novice to the advice in Seth Godden’s ‘The Purple Cow’ – this will change your perspective. I have shared this book with senior executives, marketing professors and leaders around the world –– do yourself a favor, read it.
2. Eric Reis - The Lean Start-up
There is no book more instrumental to the startup revolution than ‘The Lean Start Up.' This game-changing paradigm came from a man who knew a lot about a little and becomes a master about a lot.
Taking the traditional methodologies of lean manufacturing and IT development testing, and turning them on their head to create the ‘MVP’ or minimum viable product for service, product, and experiential companies to realize around the globe – was truly an innovation that was a game changer for companies that have thrived on the freelance economy.
Read this book to understand a formula for winning, for creating a business model that is different, adaptive and nimble from a man that tried, failed, tried, failed and won big!
3. Dr. Adam Fraser - The Third Space
When aspiring entrepreneurs ask me “what do I need to win,” I ask them, “do you understand the third space?” one of the most truly inspiring people I have come across, Dr. Adam Fraser puts things that many of use fail to realize in simple terms.
So, you want to start a business, be a leader? Do you know what that even means? How does that impact those around you?
Dr. Fraser has worked with entrepreneurial leaders from around the globe on how they embrace and adapt to their surroundings – and believe me; he has learned a lot.
I read the third space two to three times per year, not because I have the time – but because if I don’t, I won't have the time!
4. Reid Hoffman & Ben Casnocha - The Start-up Of You
So, you are trying to get ahead in the corporate world? Build your profile? Ok, so why not listen to a guy who virtually ‘wrote the app for it?’ Still in the dark? Reid Hoffman was one of the foundation investors on a little company called ‘The Facebook’ and went on to create another little application to assist professionals called “LinkedIn.”
Learn from the creators on how to stand out, be noticed and created the start-up of you on social media networking.
5. Elon Musk - Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future
Unlike number 5, this man wrote the space ship on it! Elon Musk is an innovator, pioneer, and businessman that anyone with an entrepreneurial bone in their body should admire, embrace and follow.
Musk and his brother invented a little company that created something known as PayPal that as most readers know reinvented the wheel to the next level.
With the sales and profits of PayPal, Elon took everything to the next level with battery-powered luxury and super cars and spacecraft that can deliver a payload and return safely back to earth. But how did he think this up? Where did it come from – do yourself a favor and find out.
6. Chris Helder – Useful Belief
Chris is one of the world's most in-demand speakers – and you know what, he loves it!
He loves planes, airport lounges, frequent flyer programs, hotels, motels, and restaurants – but most of all he LOVES presenting. Why? Because if he didn’t, why would he be doing it? What would he be doing it for?
Chis understands a perspective that most of us never will see, his book is a rare insight into the ‘super performer’ and if you can read, embrace and take on his philosophy’s – watch out!
7. Stephen Covey - The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
One of the most important ‘self-help’ books of all time, read, embrace and indoctrinated by literally millions of people, organizations and academics the world over, this book will offer a new perspective on literally everything you do.
Take the ‘Rocks in a Jar’ scenario. So, you have a jar; it's empty. On the other side of the table you have another jar, the same size ½ filled with small stones, then around that jar, there is a range of large stones all different shapes and sizes that in theory should fit, along with the ½ filled jar into the empty jar! Want to learn how? Read the book and embrace the leadership principals, this man wrote the book on it.
8. Dale Carnegie – How To Win Friends And Influence People
If you believe you are an entrepreneur and you haven’t read this book – you have a long way to go.
Carnegie came from a world beyond our world, working with people that shaped the way the globe does business today from Rockefeller to Royalty; he has guided people on how to influence and win in business and life.
This is not a book on how to take advantage of your fellow man (in the true Machiavellian sense), but it was the first book on how to read, understand and get the best (or most) out of people.
Even in today’s digital age, this book has lessons beyond most market leaders that should be embraced.
9. Sun Tzu - The Art of War
An ancient battle manual written by a field general to his emperor, so what could that mean to you as an entrepreneur today? Well…everything!
This is the book on strategy, understanding competition, understanding allies and understanding how you will wake up to fight another day.
“To understand yourself you must understand you enemy.” Quoted in too many Hollywood movies to mention; this is the cornerstone to a strategic mindset that few too many embrace and fewer understand.
10. Paulo Coelho - The Alchemist
Everything is a journey, life, business, and success. We have a beginning, middle and sadly an end. However, there is no text I have ever read that has put the wonders of life in a better context that the Alchemist.
It is a story of a boy, a girl, a journey, many places and many people! When starting this book, most people think it is nothing more than a ‘one chapter read, then I will put it down.' The truth is, I read the book non-stop for almost a day, since then I have read it annually. Why? Perspective.
Understand what is important, why we are here are what your journey is. It will have a different meaning for every person that reads it. For some it may lead to a real estate empire, for some it may lead to running a multinational organization, for me…it lead to me to resign from a great paying, inspiring job with a company and people I loved to start my own business and spend more time with my family – nothing is more entrepreneurial than that!
What are your top entrepreneurial reads? Feel free to share them so we can all make steps to become the best entrepreneurs we can be.