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10 Books You Need To Read Before Starting Your Business

10 Books You Need To Read Before Starting Your Business

There are essentially two main paths to success in business: either do it all on your own and make a lot of mistakes in the process, or learn from others’ mistakes and cut your learning curve considerably. If you’re like me, then you’ll prefer the latter route.

As an aspiring entrepreneur with a goal of building a profitable business, it might be worth taking the time to read a few books before you get started. You will still need to learn through your own failures, but why not get started on the right foot with a few tips from some experienced and successful entrepreneurs?

Since starting my first online business over 7 years ago, I have read over 250 business books, but these are the ones that have especially stuck with me.

1. Ask by Ryan Levesque

ryanask

    Ryan Levesque is a successful entrepreneur who left a corporate job in Shanghai, China to pursue his passion of starting an online business. Within a short period of time he was able to build over 20 successful companies online and hasn’t looked back since.

    He used to be known as the “secret weapon” for many entrepreneurs, but after a health scare, he realized it was time to share his knowledge with the world. He created his “ask” formula to promote success – which are a series of questions and surveys that help you gain deep insights about your target audience.

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    Ryan Levesque’s book Ask made me look at internet marketing and online business in a new way. Instead of trying to “guess” what my prospective customers need or want, I now use his formula to glean new insights so that I can build solutions that my customers actually want. If you too want to succeed online and don’t want to waste time and money, then grab a copy of Ask.

    2. DotCom Secrets: The Underground Playbook for Growing Your Company Online by Russell Brunson

    dotcomsecrets

      DotCom Secrets is my favorite book from this list. I keep returning to it over and over again when I need to setup or optimize my sales funnels. And what better person to learn from than the master of sales funnels himself: Russell Brunson? Russell has been successfully building sales funnels for himself and his clients for as long as I can remember, but I never really took interest in his work until recently. He offered this book for free + shipping on his website, so I thought I’d see what he’d come up with.  I wasn’t disappointed; it’s become my goto book for sales funnels ever since.

      3. The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau

      100dollarstartup

        Could you really start up a business on $100 budget? Chris Guillebeau says you can and makes the case by interviewing over 1500 entrepreneurs on their journey to building successful startup companies – many who started with a modest budget of less than $100. Chris Guillebeau himself is an entrepreneur that has a knack for turning ideas into income online and travels the world while living running successful businesses online. This is a great book to pick up if you need some motivation and want to learn some hard-earned lessons from entrepreneurs that have made it online without large budgets.

        4. The Art of Work by Jeff Goins

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        artofwork

          If you’re not starting a business with the single intention of making more money, and would like to do something meaningful – something around your true calling or life’s work — then look no further than the Art of Work by Jeff Goins. Jeff has decided to take a different approach than his colleagues stating that your life’s work isn’t something you follow, but rather something that happens out of tragedy. His book answers the question: what was I born to do? By the end of it, you should gain some clarity on what your vocation may be.

          5. 80/20 Sales and Marketing: The Definitive Guide to Working Less and Making More by Perry Marshall and Richard Koch

          80-20perry

            You may have already heard of the 80/20 rule which states that 80 percent of your results come from 80 percent of your efforts. This powerful concept – called the Pareto principle – is elucidated beautifully in Perry Marshall’s book, 80/20 Sales and Marketing: The Definitive Guide to Working Less and Making More. Perry Marshall is known by many as the authority on Facebook and Google Adwords.

            His goal in this book is to help business owners save time and money by using the 80/20 rule in their businesses and to boost productivity. When I first read this book, it cleared up a lot of areas for me including how to best use my time, money and effort to focus on the things that mattered in my personal life and business. I would recommend this book to anyone looking to get the most out of their time and money.

            6. Nail It then Scale It: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Creating and Managing Breakthrough Innovation by Nathan R. Furr and Paul Ahlstrom

            nailitthenscaleit

              I have read all of the lean startup books, but Nail It Then Scale It by Nathan Furr and Paul Ahlstrom – innovation and entrepreneurship experts – takes the cake. It essentially distills the lean startup methodologies and breaks it down step by step for aspiring entrepreneurs so that they have the best possible chance of building a profitable business. Their no-nonsense approach to building a business is a breath of fresh air, as they show you how build a business from the ground up. They say that the “reason most businesses fail is because they do the right things, but out of order”. So by learning the correct sequence to start a business, you have a much higher chance of success. If you want to start your business on the right foot, then check out this book.

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              7. Hooked: How to Build Habit Forming Products by Nir Eyal

              hooked

                Hooked by Nir Eyal — a behavioral design specialist that helps companies create habits that more effectively engage their users — is a book about building habit forming products. One of the questions he answers in the book is why some people create companies that keep users coming back for more, and why others fall flat?  He gives many examples on how successful companies such as Facebook, Twitter and others have used the power of creating habit forming technologies to hook their customers. He outlines a simple 4-step process that believes is the underlying pattern of successful companies. Whenever I create products, I refer to this book because it’s an extremely intuitive, useful and effective way to create solutions that will keep people hooked.

                8. Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works by A.G Lafley and Roger L. Martin

                playingtowin

                  Without a solid business strategy, you can’t win according to A.G. Lafley and Roger Martin. Together, they doubled Proctor and Gamble’s sales, quadrupled its profits, and increased its market value by more than $100 billion in ten years.

                  Their main goal in this book is to show you how to think strategically by asking 5 poignant questions: what’s your winning aspiration, where will you play, how will you win, what capabilities must you have in place to win, and what management systems are required to support your choices? By knowing the answer to these questions, you’ll position yourself to win in business.

                  In the book they give many examples and walk you step-by-step through each of these questions. I strongly believe that all aspiring entrepreneurs should have a strategy in place before they launch their business so that they have a solid roadmap. So whether you plan to start an online business, or build an offline empire, this is a book I’d recommend reading before launching it.

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                  9. Launch by Jeff Walker

                  launch

                    Jeff Walker is the father of product launches. He went from being a stay-at-home Dad to an internet marketing millionaire in a relatively short period of time using his product launch formula. His formula is relatively simple, and will work for anyone that plans to launch their product or service online. Anytime I do a product launch I refer to this book often since it shows you how to do it successfully step by step.  This book is a culmination of all of Jeff’s hard work and successes with his clients who have created over half a billion dollars in sales. If you’re looking to launch online, then definitely consider this book.

                    10. The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Tim Ferris

                    4hhourworkweek

                      The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris was a game changer for me. When I first got started with online business, I was under the impression that I’d be stuck working 60 hours a week if I wanted to maintain my lifestyle and income. But I soon realized how wrong I was. Tim Ferris says that you can create a lifestyle in which you earn more money, and work less, if you automate your business. By setting up systems you can grow your business faster and work less hours. If you’ve been working at a 9-5, then this may seem like an esoteric concept, but it’s certainly attainable as many entrepreneurs have done this, including myself. If you’re looking to escape your desk job, then read the 4-Hour Work Week.

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                      Last Updated on April 17, 2019

                      10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

                      10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

                      What’s the secret of professional success? Some of it lies in the mastery of your discipline and all the technical skills you have to carry out your job; but a much bigger part lies in the soft skills list you possess.

                      Soft skills are your people or relationship skills—how well you get along with others and your ability to communicate and collaborate—as well as the personal characteristics you bring to the job, such as optimism, a can-do attitude and the motivation to work hard. These skills are not always easy to point out, but their absence can cause serious problems and negatively affect the whole work atmosphere.

                      They say that hard skills will help you get the job, but soft skills will help you get along—and get ahead. With that in mind, here’s the top-10 essential soft skills list to help you advance your career.

                      1. Communication Skills

                      Communication skills are hands-down the most sought-after soft skill that bosses want, and this one ability covers a lot of ground.

                      To communicate well, you have to listen carefully, interpret the context of the conversation, express yourself clearly, persuade others of your point of view, check your body language and use an engaging presentation style that won’t intimidate or bore your audience. That’s a big ask!

                      Your personality traits can influence the way you communicate with others. For instance, some people get straight to the point and center their arguments around facts and logic; others are cooperative and sensitive to how others feel. Both these approaches are equally valuable but there can be misunderstandings if you don’t understand where the other person is coming from.

                      Taking a comprehensive personality test can help you understand why you communicate the way you do and where your blind spots are. It can also help you understand other communication styles is so you can tailor your communication to the person you’re dealing with.

                      After all, connecting with your conversation partner is the hallmark of good communication.

                      2. Flexibility

                      Change is an essential part of any business. Companies need employees who are flexible enough to work with new initiatives, open to new ideas, and generally are able to tough it out when things don’t go as planned.

                      Research has found a link between job performance and flexibility over the long term because there will be times when you have to step outside your routine and rise to fresh challenges that didn’t exist before.

                      Being flexible doesn’t mean you have to hop into a new task or job role like an expert. Rather, it’s about showing you’re willing to accept new responsibility and learn different things.

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                      Bosses look for people who are prepared to step outside their comfort zones and are open to alternative solutions when their first idea doesn’t work.

                      3. Being a Team Player

                      Working on a team can be challenging but learning to do it well can definitely help you get ahead in your career. Employers look for people who can negotiate, cooperate and manage conflicts with other people to achieve a common goal. That includes the ability to build lasting relationships with customers and clients.

                      What makes a good team player? Essentially, it’s someone who knows the goal and knows her role. Employers look for evidence that you know your strengths, your responsibilities and how you can best contribute to the team, then put those skills into action by sharing ideas and communicating in a respectful manner. That’s the definition of being a good team player.

                      This is another area where taking a personality test can help you get ahead. When teams work together, each member brings a unique set of skills and qualities to the group. Research has shown that different combinations of personalities affect how teams collaborate and how productive they are.

                      Knowing who you are, and how you work on a team, can drive new insights and open the door to better teamwork.

                      4. Positive Mental Attitude

                      There are plenty of things you can’t change at work, like the people you work with or the fact that the printer is broken again. The one thing you can change is how much you let these things bother you.

                      Bosses like people who are calm, rational and upbeat—those who diffuse tensions in the workplace, not get all grouchy and go around slamming doors.

                      Studies show that people who maintain a sunny disposition have better relationships at work, are happier in their jobs and make better decisions than those who whine and complain. Some suggest that a positive mental attitude can also make you live longer—which means it’s beneficial for every area of your life![1]

                      It’s not always easy to keep a “glass half full” mentality when work is stressful and the deadlines are piling up. But there are some things you can do to help maintain a positive attitude. Laughing at your unfortunate circumstances keeps the work environment positive, and taking “sanity” breaks can help you keep your cool in high-pressure situations.

                      Managers look for positive mental attitude in a team member that is ready for a promotion, so it really does pay to keep your cool in challenging situations.

                      5. A Strong Work Ethic

                      People with a strong work ethic are committed to the role, persevere when things get tough and are inspired by challenge. These people are ambassadors for the organization, and will always be seen as top talent and ideal candidates.

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                      If you can exhibit this skill, then expect to be seen as a great candidate, eligible for new opportunities and positions throughout your career.

                      Since a strong work ethic can mean different things to different people, it helps to show specific examples of your exceptional work ethic during a performance appraisal or interview. For instance, you might talk about:

                      • A time when you persisted in the face of challenges and did not shy away from hard work.
                      • How you volunteered to help with projects even though these tasks did not form part of your job description.
                      • The networking, workplace learning and skills betterment you’ve undertaken, which shows ambition and drive (people with a strong work ethic have those qualities in spades).
                      • How you own your mistakes and never, ever point the finger of blame at others.

                      For help with building a strong work ethic, check out these tips: How to Build a Reliable Work Ethic

                      6. Public Speaking

                      Who’s terrified of public speaking? Pretty much everyone, since public speaking is America’s number one fear, ahead of death at number five and loneliness at number seven.

                      Yet, according to Warren Buffett, mastering this one skill you could increase your personal value by 50 percent.[2] That’s huge!

                      If you’re not natural at public speaking, you’re in good company. Buffett had to work hard to overcome his stage fright and once dropped out of a public-speaking course before it started—because he was afraid of public speaking! He eventually realized that he needed to build up his confidence by just doing it; over and over in front of small groups.

                      For a more structured approach, Toastmasters International teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a variety of pathways. Membership of this non-profit looks good on your resume but the real payoff will come when you can put your newfound skills to use on the job or in the interview room.

                      Or, you can check out this advice: The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

                      7. Integrity

                      From a manager’s point of view, the two integrity skills that will set you apart are:

                      • Always doing what you say you will do
                      • Owning an error instead of minimizing or hiding it

                      …even when no one is around to check up on you.

                      There are lots of people who have climbed the ladder without scruples, but they are not the people who others trust, respect and support when promotion time comes around.

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                      Behaving with integrity is a safe and consistent way to enhance your reputation and achieve your professional goals.

                      8. Managing Your Time

                      Phone calls, texts, Slack pings, meetings, huddles, side projects, multitasking—we are busier today than any generation before us. There’s no denying the workplace is an incredibly distracting place to be.

                      A lot of us have traded effectiveness for busyness which we wear as a badge of honor, both as a proxy for productivity and to show our value to the company. But what bosses want, what they really, really want, is someone who actually gets stuff done on time.

                      Time management is not merely the art of being on time, but of managing your time so you focus on the projects that really matter and add value to the business. This means prioritizing well, sticking to schedules, delegating, and not getting distracted by tasks that are easier to perform or less important. It means planning ahead and learning when it’s appropriate to say no.

                      Time management can be a tough skill to maintain, but not a difficult one to pick up. Monitor your actions for a few days—how long do your tasks take to finish? What’s interrupting you? What causes you to lose focus? Once you have the answers to these questions, you can set a schedule for yourself to make sure you’re spending your time wisely and this valuable asset is never wasted.

                      These 20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity are also great to try.

                      9. Assertiveness

                      In any workplace, you typically will find people with the following conflict styles:

                      • Passive: Those who go out of their way to avoid conflict.
                      • Passive-aggressive: Those who express their negative feelings through actions rather than words.
                      • Aggressive: Those who respond to conflict in a hostile and rude manner. These people get their opinion heard but they won’t make any friends in the process.
                      • Assertive: People who stick up for their rights while still respecting the rights of others.

                      Managers look for assertiveness above all other styles because it allows decisions to be made without conflict or alienating people.

                      How do you use this information for yourself?

                      It starts with understanding your personality so you can anticipate how you will react when conflict arises and address your own shortcomings. Then, you can start influencing the team for top results, and securing your own career advancement in the process.

                      Learn how to be assertive and gain respect:

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                      How to Be Assertive and Stand up for Yourself the Smart Way

                      10. Creative Thinking

                      LinkedIn recently analyzed over 50,000 skills that employers search for when looking for candidates to find out what skills are currently in demand.[3] Taking the number-one slot on the 2019 soft skills list was creativity: the ability to solve problems and think outside the box.

                      Creativity is about bringing fresh, and sometimes unorthodox, ideas to the table. This helps companies to innovate, and companies that do not innovate will not survive very long.

                      How do you showcase your creative thinking skills? The golden rule is to participate.

                      Be brave and share your ideas during group brainstorming sessions. Volunteer to run a society, networking event or recruitment drive. Ask “what if” questions: “What if we add this information to the client welcome pack?” “What if we eliminate step 3 from the process?”

                      These activities demonstrate that you’re prepared to go beyond “business as usual” towards creative problem solving—an ability that will serve you every day, all throughout your career.

                      You can learn to unleash your creativity power:

                      What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

                      Final Thoughts

                      The good news? Every item on this soft skills list can be learned. Although you may feel lacking in certain areas, taking an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to focus in on the areas that you’ll benefit from developing.

                      So take an inventory of your personality, skills, and talents. This will give you a baseline for your communication style, attitude to change, conscientiousness and more. You can then identify your weak areas and develop strategies for improving your team-building, assertiveness and conflict skills.

                      The better news? The effort is worth it. Developing your soft skills opens the door to a new job or a promotion, and helps you succeed once you get there.

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                      Featured photo credit: Rachael Gorjestani via unsplash.com

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