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15 Books You Should Read Before Starting Your Business

15 Books You Should Read Before Starting Your Business

When my first company failed, a young startup I founded right after college, I wanted to know why. I spent the next year reading and working like an animal. In total, I finished one hundred and thirty books. I then began to implement my new-found knowledge with incredible success.

I started to help companies and individuals market themselves knowing exactly what I was doing. What I realized is reading books can tremendously help you overcome some of your biggest obstacles, and reading the right books will help you even more.

For that reason, I made this list of fifteen books you should read before starting your business:

1. “How To Win Friends And Influence People” by Dale Carnegie

how-to-win-friends-and-influence-people-one

    How to Win Friends and Influence People is the first best-selling and one of the most renowned self-help books. Authored by Dale Carnegie and published in 1936, it has sold million copies worldwide. Countless entrepreneurs who build great businesses attribute this book to being their source for success. Many of my friends have even read this several times, so they don’t forget the main points.

    Carnegie’s advice is practical and may seem obvious, but it’s a one-of-a-kind type of common sense brought to life with excellent examples. I listed this book as number one because I’ve never met a successful entrepreneur who hasn’t read this book.

    2. “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey

    7-habits-of-success

      The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is one of the best leadership books of the last century that changed the lives of possibly tens of millions. The beautiful takeaway from this book for every entrepreneur looking to build a business is the power of focus and initiative. Stephen Covey voices how without these two characteristics – no matter what knowledge you obtain – you won’t become a better person.

      Covey notes that without adopting a “paradigm shift” in the way you perceive and interpret how the world works, then The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People will fall short of its intention.

      This is not a simple book that gives you shortcuts or a few quick tips. The concepts are sophisticated, and the chapters should be re-read with fervent note taking. This book is about the fundamentals of staying on your path to success. Without the right focus, your business won’t succeed making this a must read.

      3.  “30 Lessons For Living” by Karl Pillemer

      30-lessons-for-living

        Self-improvement books are a billion-dollar industry, and self-improvement overall is over $10 billion. With endless advice columns, so-called television experts, lifestyle publications, and health and wellness bloggers, it’s difficult to discern who the experts are, especially when few speak from experience. 30 Lessons for Living was a 5-year project by Karl Pillemer, a renowned gerontologist (someone who studies the social, psychological, cognitive and biological aspects of aging).

        He talked with thousands of Americans over the age of sixty-five, many of whom experienced WWII and Vietnam. His determination to find out what lessons we could learn from this generation led to one awe-inspiring book for not just entrepreneurs starting business looking to live a balanced life, but for everyone. Without a balanced life, your business won’t survive for the long run. So, start preparing to embrace a healthy lifestyle by reading this book.

        4. “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg

        power of habit

          Investigative reporter for The New York Times, Charles Duhigg, researched how habits form, how they can be beneficial, and how they can be destructive. This book helps entrepreneurs take a deeper look at themselves so that they change their habits. The Power of Habit puts you on an intriguing journey talking about the habits of individuals, how habits interact with the brain, how companies utilize habits, and how retailers use them to manipulate buying habits.

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          The Power of Habit teaches you how habits form in a variety of ways, not just product specific as it teaches you about the benefits of utilizing good habits for embracing personal change. If you’re interested in making sure habits keep your company running and your products satisfying customers, then this book is for you.

          5. “The Sovereign Individual” by James Dale Davidson and Lord William Rees-Mogg

          soveriegn-individual

            The Sovereign Individual, authored by James Dale Davidson and William Rees-Mogg, is a thought-provoking read. Written in 1997, the book aimed to predict the future and was dead on. It covers many soon-to-happen – and now past – events both technological and financial. Anyone who wants to start a business should read this book to gain clarity on how the future of technology will affect everyday commerce.

            The book’s premise revolves around the notion that governments will decentralize, and self-rule will become more prominent as technology improves. The authors conclude that governments will no longer be able to compete with the speed at which the private sector innovates. And soon, the government won’t even have the means to offer a worthy substitute.

            The Sovereign Individual takes on the idea of nationhood and explains the source and type of propaganda used to legitimize it. Here are a few great quotes that came to life in the following years after the book was published:

            “All nation-states face bankruptcy and the rapid erosion of their authority.”

            “You can expect to see crises of misgovernment in many countries as political promises are deflated and governments run out of credit.”

            Any business owner should understand the intersection of technology and commerce because in a world that’s constantly innovating, it’s the only way to keep up.

            6. “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacsen

            steve-jobs-672x1024

              The book Steve Jobs is a read about an entrepreneur who took it upon himself to change the world. Author Walter Isaacson compiled forty plus interviews with Steve Jobs and over a hundred interviews with family members, friends, and colleagues to create this one-of-a-kind book. If you want to start a business, this book will motivate you to take your aspirations above and beyond.

              Isaacson writes about every aspect of Jobs’ personal life from personality to beliefs. He even touches on little-known facts about Jobs such as being born out of wedlock to a Syrian Muslim, then adopted at birth by working class parents.

              Also, Steve Jobs was a multi-billionaire who lived on an average street without security or servants, devoted to Zen and in love with simplicity. Moreover, he was not the best parenting father to say the least. But, he was a leader with massive influence in the computing world even with little knowledge of code. Part of his incredible influence resulted from his sales and marketing genius.

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              Steve Jobs lived one of the most incredible lives that you’ll ever read about. The story inspires your inner leader and business sense while convincing you that one man can have a tremendous impact on the world.

              7. “The Art of Learning” by Josh Waitzkin

              the-art-of-learning

                The Art of Learning is a must read for any entrepreneur interested in how one processes information and turns into a tangible skill. The book is about the life of the author Josh Waitzkin, who put himself on a remarkable journey. Josh Waitzkin is widely recognized as the main character in the best-selling book, Searching for Bobby Fisher, whereas a chess prodigy, he received significant publicity that took a huge negative toll on him for years.

                He rose to the top of the world in both chess and tai chi martial arts. He reflects on his experiences to teach us valuable methods on how to reenact his journey of learning for our passions. This book will help you overcome any learning curve in starting a business.

                An important takeaway from The Art of Learning is the idea that you should concentrate on executing the task at hand rather than the results and outcomes. This type of focus creates a path of learning and eventual mastery. Josh continues to teach us how to focus on creating a lifestyle that ignites creativity and growth so that we can trigger intuitive breakthroughs, perfect techniques, and master performance psychology.

                Josh’s assessment of the moments he overcame challenges both physical and mental, give the reader an excellent understanding of his principles in application. The Art of Learning is a cornerstone for business owners and Tim Ferriss recommends it as one of his top books, too.

                8. “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield

                war on art

                  Renowned author, Steven Pressfield, wrote The War of Art to inspire other writers, artists, musicians, or anyone else attempting to channel their creative ambitions. His book is more than about being creative, though; it’s about reaching higher to fulfill your potential as someone who innately has some form of art to offer the world. As an entrepreneur interested in starting a business, you are aiming to produce some form of art to sell. From that perspective, this book is perfect for you.

                  Josh consistently mentions the word “resistance,” a word that every person must overcome in their journey to become an artist. Resistance wants you to be lazy, average and avoid risks. Resistance is the reason many people choose to watch Netflix over creating art. Pressfield describes the battle against resistance as a never-ending war – one to the death.

                  Some of his more notable points in The War of Art include refuting the motivation nonsense that by following the right formula and working hard, you can achieve your dreams. Instead, he aims to convince his readers that “We are not born with unlimited choices… Our job in this lifetime is not to shape ourselves into some ideal that we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.”

                  Pressfield’s prescriptions for defeating resistance are not awe-inspiring, but common sense: show up every day and get to work. If you want to push through your creative strugles when differentiating your business, then pick this book up immediately.

                  9. “Linchpin” by Seth Godin

                  linchpin

                    Linchpin is one incredible read and has changed many lives. Seth Godin writes this book beautifully with passion spilling out from each page. If you’re interested in leading a business, this book will encourage you to take on a powerful role you need for your company’s survival. Seth Godin defines a Linchpin as someone in an organization who is indispensable and can’t be replaced because their role is too unique and valuable. Without hesitation, he points out that not becoming a Linchpin is career suicide.

                    Seth Godin points out, “Everyone’s an artist now.” And his definition of an artist is someone who does “emotional work,” work that needs your heart and soul to be great. Seth challenges every reader to become a linchpin – an artist. That no matter what the sacrifice is, it’s worth it.

                    10. “How To Work A Room” by Susan Roane

                    how to work a room

                      How to Work a Room is a book about networking and socializing. Most of us are shy, in fact, the author Susan Roane claims 93% of us are so. Networking is key to creating a successful business. Without connections and relationships, no one will buy your products. For those with savvy socializing skills, you may not get whole lot applicable usage out of this book. However, for many of us it can be that push to help us break out of our shell and meet people.

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                      Even though this book is about socializing and networking, the truth is that it’s also about relationship building. Without the ability to meet people, your relationships won’t grow, hindering your success and happiness. She notes that “natural public speakers” and “savvy socializers” don’t exist without practice. These characteristics are achieved through hard work, preparation, and perseverance. Most of us, even the super socializer is just as self-conscious as everyone else, but they use techniques and practice to enable them to make connections.

                      11. “Purple Cow” by Seth Godin

                      purple cow

                        Purple Cow, written by Seth Godin, is one of those motivational books you rarely come across. Purple cows are somewhat of a mystery – something phenomenal, counterintuitive, exciting, and surprising. If we saw rows of cows every day, eventually we would stop looking. But if we saw a purple cow, you bet we would stop and stare. Is your business a purple cow?

                        This is the point of the book – whether you’re branding yourself or a business – be unique and stand out. Be the purple cow you were always meant to be. If you’re another blank page in a notebook, then no one will notice your business, and before you know, you’ll be starting back from square one.

                        This book won’t teach you how to become a purple cow; however, it will give you some examples of how other people and businesses did it. This book is for inspiration. The truth is: the purple cow is inherent, it’s either there or it’s not. And if you can find your purple cow, do everything you can to embrace it.

                        12. “Tribes” by Seth Godin

                        tribes

                          Tribes, another fantastic book by Seth Godin that teaches you how to form a community with the same goals and interests around you. He points out that it is human nature to seek out being a part of a tribe, whether ethnic, economic, political or even musical.

                          For any successful business, they must create a community of loyal followers, otherwise known as a brand. And no company lasts without a brand. He notes that the internet eliminated many of the barriers to creating tribes and enabled a myriad of new tribes to be born. With so many new tribes, who will lead them? If you’re looking to make a difference as an entrepreneur, you need a tribe that will help you make your vision successful.

                          The web is incredible, but it’s not a platform where you can lead in full force. You have to work online and offline with determination and idealism. Similar to Seth’s book, Purple Cow, you won’t find the exact steps to become a leader, but the inspiration and courage to do so through case studies and well-presented information.

                          13. “Hooked” by Nir Eyal

                          Hooked

                            Hooked is about building user engagement, so products are launched with great reception. Authored by Nir Eyal and Ryan Hoover, the founder of Product Hunt, Hooked teaches you how to create and design habit-forming products. The worst thing you can do when starting a business is not do your research. Step one is finding out whether your product will engage users, that’s where Hooked comes in.

                            To understand how habits control us, we must identify their origin. Hooked is just as much helpful in removing negative habits as it is in building excellent products. After I had finished the book, I began seeing products and services in a user-oriented way; for instance, why people spend hours every day on Facebook and Instagram.

                            I came across this book when working for a startup that built several mobile apps, and I was surprised when I received personal development benefits.

                            14. “The 4-Hour Workweek” by Timothy Ferriss

                            four-hour-workweek

                              Tim Ferriss wrote the 4-Hour Workweek for those looking to maximize their productivity and freedom. The book is an excellent read, and it was so good that it was on The New York Times bestseller list for seven years. Many entrepreneurs consider Tim Ferriss the ultimate business guru and he has a huge devoted following to prove it.

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                              So what’s in the 4-Hour Workweek:

                              It includes Tim Feriss’s story of having a lifestyle of $40,000 per year and 80 work hours per week to $40,000 per month and 4 hours per week. Also, he teaches you how to outsource many of your projects to virtual assistants and how to step up and become a top-notch entrepreneur that can travel the world. Furthermore, the book explains how you can eliminate 50% of your work in 48 hours using the Pareto principle, and how to trade a long-term career for short work sprints and frequent “mini-retirements.”

                              15. “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill

                              think and grow rich

                                Think and Grow Rich was first published in 1937 by Napoleon Hill. In between 1930 and 1970, the book sold over 20 million copies. When a book is written with the truism found in inherent life principles, it becomes a timeless since its lessons will always be relevant. In accordance, Napoleon divides Think and Grow Rich into 13 principles and lessons to be mastered. Here’s an overview of the first seven:

                                Desire: Desire is not about wishing; it’s about wanting. Only when someone wants something do they act towards attaining it. When you’re fully committed to wanting something, you have Desire, and it’s best to put that desire into a mission statement.

                                Faith: What Napoleon Hill calls Faith is actually a type of self-confidence that is similar to a religious passion. He teaches you the importance of disciplining your mind to understand the purpose of failure before it arrives. Hill also developed a self-confidence formula in five steps to commit to memory (found in the book J).

                                Auto – Suggestion: As Hill once put it: “If you do not see great riches in your imagination, you will never see them in your bank balance.”

                                Specialized knowledge: Hill talks about the importance of having a niche – a unique selling point. But also the importance of surrounding yourself with people who have specialized knowledge, too.

                                Imagination: “It has been said that man can create anything which he can imagine,” Hill writes.

                                Organized planning: “You are engaged in an undertaking of major importance to you. To be sure of success, you must have plans which are faultless.” Hill also mentions that a leader must possess the quality, quantity and spirit of service.

                                Decision: Leaders know how to reach decisions promptly and how to stand behind their decisions. Such people, Hill writes, “know what they want, and generally get it.” That is because “the world has the habit of making room for the man whose words and actions show that he knows where he is going.”

                                Think you’re ready to start your business?

                                Featured photo credit: Timothy Ferriss via brazigzag.com

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                                Last Updated on September 17, 2018

                                How to Stop Multitasking and Become Way More Productive

                                How to Stop Multitasking and Become Way More Productive

                                Today we are expected to work in highly disruptive environments. We sit down at our desks, turn on our computer and immediately we are hit with hundreds of emails all vying for our attention.

                                Our phones are beeping and pinging with new alerts to messages, likes and comments and our colleagues are complaining about the latest company initiative is designed to get us to do more work and spend less time at home.

                                All these distractions result in us multitasking where our attention is switching between one crisis and the next.

                                Multitasking is a problem. But how to stop multitasking?

                                How bad really is multitasking?

                                It dilutes your focus and attention so even the easiest of tasks become much harder and take longer to complete.

                                Studies have shown that while you think you are multitasking, you are in fact task switching, which means your attention is switching between two or more pieces of work and that depletes the energy resources you have to do your work.

                                This is why, even though you may have done little to no physical activity, you arrive home at the end of the day feeling exhausted and not in the mood to do anything.

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                                We know it is not a good way to get quality work done, but the demands for out attention persist and rather than reduce, are likely to increase as the years go by.

                                So what to do about it?

                                Ways to stop multitasking and increase productivity

                                Now, forget about how to multitask!

                                Here are a few strategies on how to stop multitasking so you can get better quality and more work done in the time you have each working day:

                                1. Get enough rest

                                When you are tired, your brain has less strength to resist even the tiniest attention seeker. This is why when you find your mind wandering, it is a sign your brain is tired and time to take a break.

                                This does not just mean taking breaks throughout the day, it also means making sure you get enough sleep every day.

                                When you are well rested and take short regular breaks throughout the day your brain is fully refuelled and ready to focus in on the work that is important.

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                                2. Plan your day

                                When you don’t have a plan for the day, the day will create a plan for you. When you allow outside influences to take control of your day, it is very hard not to be dragged off in all directions.

                                When you have a plan for the day, when you arrive at work your brain knows exactly what it is you want to accomplish and will subconsciously have prepared itself for a sustained period of focused work.

                                Your resistance to distractions and other work will be high and you will focus much better on the work that needs doing.

                                3. Remove everything from your desk and screen except for the work you are doing

                                I learned this one a long time ago. In my previous work, I worked in a law office and I had case files to deal with. If I had more than one case file on my desk at any one time, I would find my eyes wandering over the other case files on my desk when I had something difficult to do.

                                I was looking for something easier. This meant often I was working on three or four cases at one time and that always led to mistakes and slower completion.

                                Now when I am working on something, I am in full-screen mode where all I can see is the work I am working on right now.

                                4. When at your desk, do work

                                We are creatures of habit. If we do our online shopping and news reading at our desks as well as our work, we will always have the temptation to be doing stuff that we should not be doing at that moment.

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                                Do your online shopping from another place—your home or from your phone when you are having a break—and only do your work when at your desk. This conditions your brain to focus in on your work and not other distractions.

                                5. Learn to say no

                                Whenever you hear the phrase “learn to say no,” it does not mean going about being rude to everyone. What it does mean is delay saying yes.

                                Most problems occur when we say “yes” immediately. We then have to spend an inordinate amount of energy thinking of ways to get ourselves out of the commitment we made.

                                By saying “let me think about it” or “can I let you know later” gives you time to evaluate the offer and allows you to get back to what you were doing quicker.

                                6. Turn off notifications on your computer

                                For most of us, we still use computers to do our work. When you have email alert pop-ups and other notifications turned on, they will distract you no matter how strong you feel.

                                Turn them off and schedule email reviewing for times between doing your focused work. Doing this will give you a lot of time back because you will be able to remain focused on the work in front of you.

                                7. Find a quiet place to do your most important work

                                Most workplaces have meeting rooms that are vacant. If you do have important work to get done, ask if you can use one of those rooms and do your work there.

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                                You can close the door, put on your headphones and just focus on what is important. This is a great way to remove all the other, non-important, tasks demanding your attention and just focus on one piece of work.

                                The bottom line

                                Focusing on one piece of work at a time can be hard but the benefits to the amount of work you get done are worth it. You will make fewer mistakes, you will get more done and will feel a lot less tired at the end of the day.

                                Make a list of the four or five things you want to get done the next day before you finish your work for the day and when you start the day, begin at the top of the list with the first item.

                                Don’t start anything else until you have finished the first one and then move on to the second one. This one trick will help you to become way more productive.

                                Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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