Starting your own business is incredibly hard. It is said that, in America, one in four businesses will fail in the coming year. With thousands of businesses failing every year, and fewer succeeding only by a small margin, starting a business is not something you should try to accomplish without preparation. For that reason, we have compiled a list of books that are vital to succeeding in starting your own business.
1. Great by Choice, by Jim Collins
Collins is a University of Colorado professor that has a made a living writing books that examine successful companies. Most of his works, like Great by Choice, are strongly data driven and give valuable insights about what constitutes a good business. His term, “The 20 Mile March” is vital to any young business’s growth. In it, he related the storm of the first team to travel to the South Pole. The team, unlike others, focused not on getting to South Pole and back, a trip equidistant to the distance between Chicago to New York and back, but rather on executing a 20 mile march every day, regardless. The team, taking small bites at a time, made it. Collins’ work is filled with similar metaphors that are valuable to any aspiring entrepreneur.
2. Turn the Ship Around! by L. David Marquet
Turn the Ship Around! was written by a retired submarine captain. It’s about how he took what was seen as an under-performing nuclear submarine and turned it into a empowerment zone. Instead of relying on his own iron-fisted leadership, Marquet “created leadership at every level,” thereby allowing him to focus on the strategic direction of the ship and not on whether or not all the bolts were properly tightened. This book is valuable because, by employing its wisdom, the new entrepreneur can learn how to take underpaid and undervalued professions and empower them to create value for the business, freeing up the owner’s time in the process.
3. The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg
For every new business owner, there are going to be impossibly long days followed by days of doing accounting work to find out whether or not you turned a profit. By reading The Power of Habit, you can learn how to train your brain to respond to such dauntingly difficult situations as opportunities, and you can make accounting the treat at the end your day — not just another torturous task. Duhigg is a writer for the New York Times and a Pulitzer Prize winner, so he knows his stuff.
4. The Art of the Start, by Guy Kawasaki
Guy Kawasaki is a multi-talented entrepreneur and marketing guru who made his fame by being on the original marketing team for the Macintosh computer at Apple. Guy Kawasaki has many books a young entrepreneur should read, but foremost is The Art of the Start. It is essentially a handbook on how to start your own business, detailing all of the potential pitfalls and successes you will encounter along the way. More importantly, the book decodes what all of these situations mean for your business.
5. The 80/20 Principle, by Richard Koch
Richard Koch, in The 80/20 Principle, lays out how the Pareto Principle affects business dealings. And while the Pareto Principle (a.k.a. the Law of the Few) may seem obtuse, it is really commonsense: in business and life, 20% of one instance often accounts for 80% of the issue in question. For example, ever wonder, “How can I get the 20% of your customers that account for 80% of my revenue to give even more?” Koch brilliantly explains how this rule can be used to maximize earnings and other business measurements.
6. The Balanced Scorecard, by Robert S. Kaplan
In starting your own business, it might seem like cash flow is all that matters. But what about good will of customers? Time spent training employees? Growth of a snot-nosed employee into a positive manager role? The Balanced Scorecard is about how companies can maximize their growth, in both the short and long term, by taking into account all facets of a company, and how, if you mix it properly, growth won’t just be an amazing end strategy, but something that has to occur based on how you’ve positioned yourself.
Featured photo credit: Assan/Ingmar Zahorsky via flickr.com