One thing there is no shortage of in everyone’s busy lives is content, but not all of it is created equal. As a fellow small business, our company has experienced challenges and opportunities similar to our clients and is well-positioned to offer advice on useful business-related content. In a recent meeting with Network Depot’s leadership team, we discussed which books would be most helpful for small businesses in general and came up with the valuable list featured in this blog post.
It is sobering that the failure rate of small businesses is extremely high, with some sources reporting that 80% fail within 5 years and another 80% fail within another 5 years. In order to help your small business avoid this fate or improve upon its current success, we have identified 5 important business-related books that would be beneficial for your small company. By being aware of the helpful information, lessons learned, and sage warnings that abound in these books, your small business will gain a useful advantage over your competitors and will be able to offer better service to your clients.
The E-Myth: Why Most Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do about It, by Michael Gerber
This classic book and its related sequels address the “Entrepreneurial” (E) Myth that pervades most small businesses and start-ups. Gerber focuses on the problem of entrepreneurial business owners who link their personalities and behavioral quirks too closely to their businesses and make themselves irreplaceable for its continued operation. He reinforces this message through the parable of a woman who bakes delicious pies but has difficulty growing her business. She repeatedly fails to grow her business because of her inability to delegate operations or teach others how to bake like her. Gerber’s solution is to establish systems in your business so that you can duplicate the essential tasks of the entrepreneur. In short, the entrepreneur has to work on the business and not in it and needs to be able to train and trust others to perform the tasks and processes critical for success.
Start with Why, by Simon Sinek
Sinek, a motivational speaker and marketing consultant, wrote this book to answer the simple question of why some businesses are great successes and so many others are mediocre or fail outright. After conducting many hours of research by speaking with the leaders and employees of successful and failed companies, Sinek reaches an interesting conclusion: the most successful companies have all answered the essential question of why they are doing what they do. The best companies have inspirational leaders who clearly and effectively communicate the mission of their companies to their employees. Sinek stresses the importance of purpose and passion in both business and personal growth. Once companies have established a “why” that everyone is willing to get behind, the “how” and “what” will follow much more easily.
The Go-Giver: A Little Story about a Powerful Business Idea, by Bob Burg and John D. Mann
In this book and its related sequels, Burg and Mann illustrate the power of giving in comparison to self-centered behavior. The authors demonstrate how this philosophy can help you in business and in your personal life through the parable of a struggling young professional looking for guidance. The man finds mentorship from the leaders of the company, who emphasize the “Five Laws of Stratospheric Success.” These laws include Value, Compensation, Influence, Authenticity, and Receptivity and all stress the importance of being selfless and truly giving of oneself to serve others. Through this parable, the authors demonstrate how rewarding this giving behavior ultimately is to others and to the individuals practicing it.
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, by David Allen
Productivity consultant David Allen introduces his innovative Getting Things Done (GTD) workflow in this book. This acclaimed method is designed to reduce stress and make any process more efficient. The crux of his method is to puts reminders about everything you are not currently working on into a trusted storage/filing system (electronic, physical, etc.) apart from your mind. In this way, you can concentrate on whatever task you need to currently complete without worrying about any tasks you will finish later, defined as “incompletes.” Allen describes how you can place all tasks into his technologically-neutral GTD workflow consisting of the following five stages: capture, clarify, organize, reflect, and engage. His system works well because of its concentration on a well-designed system with “front-end” planning, which works with our natural brain functions to more efficiently organize and execute tasks.
Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson
Famed biographer and journalist Walter Isaacson definitively captures the essence of the controversial genius, Steve Jobs, in this massive book. Isaacson conducted more than forty interviews with Jobs over two years and reached out to friends, family, colleagues, competitors, and enemies to accurately portray both the legendary gifts and significant flaws of this business icon. Isaacson notes that Jobs didn’t request any restrictions on the content and suggested that Isaacson should contact the relevant players in his many anecdotes to compare their recollections of events.
Isaacson demonstrates how Jobs was a genius at connecting art to technology and used his passion, perfectionism, and emotional and inspirational leadership to create the most valuable company on Earth and transform seven industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, digital publishing, and retail stores.
This entertaining and informative book illuminates the positive and negative features of Jobs while also offering many valuable lessons applicable to business and life.
In addition, to the five highlighted books above, Network Depot’s leadership team also recommends the following books:
Leading with the Heart: Coach K’s Successful Strategies for Basketball, Business, and Life, by Mike Krzyzewski and Donald T. Phillips
Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, by Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porris
Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t, by Simon Sinek
Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win, by Jocko Willink
The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, by Malcolm Gladwell
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change, by Stephen R. Covey
How to Win Friends & Influence People, by Dale Carnegie
In summary, Network Depot’s leadership team has found these business-related books valuable in helping our MSP business become a trusted IT Support company that provides excellent service to our clients. We recommend your company take the time to read these influential books to learn useful lessons for personal growth and gain some important insights into how to successfully run a small business.