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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 February 20, 2019

                      17 Versatile Work Skills That Will Gain You More Career Opportunities

                      17 Versatile Work Skills That Will Gain You More Career Opportunities

                      When we look at a job advertisement, it can seem as though employers want an exhaustive list of experience and technical skills from their new hire.

                      They list desirable qualities such as ‘initiative’, ‘team player’ and ‘strong work ethic’. Those words can mean a variety of things to different people and it can be quite hard for employers to illustrate fully the combination of technical and soft skills they want their potential employees to have.

                      What they often want is a mix of versatile skills that make it easy for them (and you) to adapt to the changing needs and demands which occur in businesses today.

                      After all, adaptability and innovation are what make businesses thrive.

                      In today’s ever-changing environment, versatility is a mandatory attitude every working person needs to have. With the following seventeen work skills, you will not only make your employer extremely happy and confident that hiring you was their best decision, you will experience greater personal satisfaction and results.

                      1. Know What You Want but More so Why You Want It

                      Employers need to sense you have a solid idea as to why you are a fit for their role and their organization. They need to sense you have your own sense of purpose.

                      However, it can be a double-edged sword to say you know exactly what you want to achieve and gain if you are successful in your application and interview.

                      Some employers can perceive this as arrogance; your needs first, theirs second. What employers are really looking for is your internal sense of knowing that potential to join their organization is a winning combination for both of you.

                      2. Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution Skills Save Money, Lost Productivity and Efficiency

                      Can you agree to disagree? Can you evaluate without passing judgment or at least be self-aware of your own biases? Can you put these aside to find solutions for the betterment of the team?

                      Employers look for versatility in soft work skills that bring peace, lower stress and contribute to creating harmony. If you have ways with words to help heated arguments reduce to a simmer so there is space for compromises, negotiations and reasoning to take place your employers’ respect for you will jump at least tenfold.

                      Peace-making skills are invaluable in changing workplace culture, particularly toxic ones. Any good employer knows a strong in-house negotiator will save them thousands of dollars in engaging an external mediator.

                      3. Know How to Set and Reframe Your Own Goals

                      Much research has documented that when employees have a clear purpose, mission and goals, they are more likely to be highly productive. They are less likely to flounder around in many directions nor be busy and not produce results that matter.

                      Employers know well that employees who develop their own goals and can align these with those of the company are more self-driven, self-sufficient and take greater ownership for performing their role.

                      And the benefit is not only to the employers. You personally will find greater personal satisfaction from achieving targets you have chosen to set yourself. Everyone wins!

                      4. Great Time Management and Organization Skills Make You Highly Productive

                      Being able to exercise versatility with these work skills needs no explanation. Great time management does not mean multi-tasking. It actually uses more brain power and reduces effectiveness.

                      Having great skills to prioritize your activities and demands, being able to assess how long things might take you to address are planning skills which greatly aid effective and better execution.

                      Working in harmony with your colleagues’ timetables makes for better teamwork and workflow plus a less stressed environment.

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                      In today’s working world, any strategies for reducing stress-invoking opportunities are like finding golden nuggets. Your employer will want to hold on to those for dear life!

                      5. Be a Flexible Team Player by Being Able to Change Roles When Required

                      Employers will be looking to see how flexible a team player, a potential employee could be.

                      If you are a natural leader, being a better team player might, in fact, mean you stepping down from the helm and encouraging someone else to exercise and step into their leadership potential.

                      It might be more beneficial to your employer to play the role of Indian as opposed to the Chief in certain situations. Stepping into different positions on your team not only helps you grow but also the rest of your team.

                      Employers relish having a versatile work team which can adapt and is ready and willing to play different roles, even if uncomfortable when crises happen.

                      6. Initiative, Self-Motivated and Driven

                      When you have your own internal reasons for looking to undertake a role your motivation is driven by something sizzling inside of you.

                      There is a personal drive and desire for the satisfaction you will experience when you meet a certain target that no other person will be able to give to you.

                      When you can genuinely identify and demonstrate your own personal connection to the role’s objectives and the greater goals of your employer’s business, they will see you have an internal drive that they don’t need to whip and flog to keep the momentum going.

                      Any employer will be grateful they just need to help navigate you and support you with the right tools and network and off you go.

                      7. Be Confident but Not Arrogant

                      Imagine if you were conducting initial telephone interviews with shortlisted candidates and one of the questions they asked was:

                      “How long would it be until I’ll be eligible for a pay rise or promotion?”

                      There is a significant difference between being confident and arrogant. Employers are not looking for confidence purely in you being able to perform every aspect of your role at gold star level.

                      It comes with being comfortable to say you don’t understand, you have made a mistake, you need support, further training, acknowledging what your limits are and being willing to risk stepping outside your comfort zone.

                      When you’re a new kid on the block, respecting that you may need to learn to walk before you can run is essential. Unless it is your job to start making significant changes from day one, chances are you’re going to create enemies if you’re so confident your new methods and ideas should replace existing processes.

                      8. A Positive Attitude

                      Demonstrating positivity as a work skill that will truly win over your new employer is about being genuine and actively applying strategies which look for the glass half full.

                      Recruiters and employers are not dumb. They can easily see through short-term bright smiles, nervous giggling and general ‘you just need to think positive’ statements.

                      In the face of grueling challenges, employers are going to look much more favorably on that candidate who can acknowledge the negative features of a situation but still encourage another solution-focused perspective to be adopted.

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                      Even better, if you can use language effectively to demonstrate how you have adopted a positive perspective and helped turned around a tough situation.

                      It is one thing to have a positive attitude but your potential employer will see you as a superhero if you can show them how you have successfully applied it.

                      Take a look at these tips to learn more about staying positive:

                      10 Tips To Make Positive Thinking Easy

                      9. You Are Resourceful but Know the Value of Asking for Help

                      There is nothing more unproductive (let alone frustrating) than that person who simply asks out loud a question to their team when they could simply have Googled the answer.

                      Or worse still, they have a manual at their fingertips which has the answer to their question…they were simply too lazy to look for themselves.

                      Be that person with Sherlock Holmes as their middle name who sleuths like a dog after a buried bone. You can research and turn over stones to discover and learn what you need but you also are able to ask for help and assistance when you need to.

                      Any employer will relish that person who looks to discover the answers to their own questions first before reaching out and asking for help.

                      Hesitate to ask for help? This article may just change your mind:

                      Afraid to Ask for Help? Change Your Outlook to Aim High!

                      10. Emotional Intelligence Creates a Harmonious Workflow

                      Despite the level of seniority of your role having a strong ability to handle emotions is fast becoming an essential work skill (and also life skill).

                      It is even more desirable for any employer when your work skill set includes the ability to detect, adapt to and have skills in managing certain emotional patterns of others you need to work with, manage or report to.

                      So much time, energy and productivity is lost due to individuals’ lack of skills in this area. Any manager who can see you possess and can demonstrate such versatile work skills will think they’ve won the managerial lottery!

                      You can learn how to improve your Emotional Intelligence from this article:

                      7 Practical Ways To Improve Your Emotional Intelligence

                      11. Be Able to Adapt Your Learning Style

                      There is no real evidence that using preferred learning styles actually increase the rate at which we learn nor the effectiveness of certain styles.

                      However, being able to make changes to what we are given to learn and adapting it to suit our needs and preferences does help us settle into a new work transition sooner.

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                      We also need to recognize that even though we feel uncomfortable learning a new skill a certain way, it might actually be the way we need to receive it to cement the learning. It is also likely that our new employer only knows or has a budget to deliver training in a certain way.

                      Either we can choose to adapt or resist but we know for sure the latter is not going to benefit to anyone.

                      Want to find out what your learning style is? Take this quiz:

                      How This Learning Style Quiz Can Help You Make the Most of Your Life

                      12. Flexible Leadership Style

                      Dan Goleman has conducted extensive research on different leadership styles, emphasizing that being versatile to switch between different styles (e.g. authoritative, coaching, affiliate, coercive, pace-setting) and knowing when to do is a fundamental skill for any leader.

                      Being able to change your style to lead other people is as important as how you lead your own role responsibilities.

                      If you want to be a better leader, these books are great resources:

                      15 Best Leadership Books Every Leader Must Read To Achieve Success

                      13. Incredible Communication Skills That Actively Listen and Give Clear Messages

                      Strong and effective communication across all mediums takes time, life experience and highly developed intuition.

                      Knowing when to use email, a face to face conversation or telephone discussion is one thing. Another is to use words which emotionally connect and influence the receiver to accept, hear and heed your message.

                      Great communicators know that it is their responsibility as much as the receiver for good communication to take place. However, they also know that the receiver may not feel this is the case.

                      When you can listen equally, be sensitive to read between the lines to hear the message of ineffective communicators and can respond kindly with inspiring, equalizing and encouraging words, your influence and general likeability as a new addition to your employer’s team will develop in leaps and bounds.

                      These books are also nice resources to learn effective communication:

                      13 Best Communication Books for Stronger Social Skills & Relationships

                      14. Accountable, Responsible and Dependable

                      We’ve all worked with people or managers at some point who lay external blame the instance something goes wrong.

                      Contrary to popular belief, making mistakes and owning up to it is a highly desirable and versatile work skill that gains loyalty and understanding particularly when mistakes occur.

                      Owning up to errors early allows both yourself and the business to recover quickly and shows you’re willing to take responsibility to continue forward on when you have stumbled.

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                      When you illustrate you can do this, you build your employer’s trust and faith in you.

                      15. Exercise Proactive Self-Awareness

                      Self-reflection is a highly empowering work skill that contributes greatly to becoming better and performing better.

                      When you actively look for the achievement, celebrate your success and look for pockets of where mistakes you have made can be corrected you improve faster, become more effective and make your work easier.

                      When you start to look at your own errors, receiving feedback from your employer about the same errors can feel far less confronting and having corrective conversations is easier, transparent and far less stressful and emotional.

                      You naturally increase your resilience and make life easier for yourself and your employer if you conduct regular self-check-ins and keep your employer updated.

                      Here’s how to practice self-awareness:

                      How to Increase Your Self Awareness to Be Much More Successful

                      16. Apply a Problem-Solving Growth Mindset

                      When faced with a problem or challenge, your ability to activate a growth mindset is a highly versatile work skill employers love. Not only are you able to reduce the pain and anguish that a fixed mindset can sustain but your ability to remain open to possibilities to find different pathways or ideas is refreshing and helpful.

                      If your thought patterns automatically ask: “How can we?” or you often think “there must be a way”, you will only contribute to creating growth opportunities for your organization and inspire others to think the same way.

                      Learn more about developing a growth mindset here:

                      5 Ways to Cultivate a Growth Mindset for Self Improvement

                      17. Be Teachable

                      If you have ever tried to teach someone a new skill or technique and they keep reverting back to traditional ways that are familiar to them, you might have become frustrated to the point of giving up.

                      Don’t be that person who’s stuck in tradition which no longer serves the business. Whether you are entering a new environment, learning new software or negotiation skills, know that all employers need people who are open to being taught.

                      Innovation is a core concern of every business. Innovation means change and change means doing something different.

                      Stay Versatile and Keep Learning

                      Technical skills can often be taught. Ray Croc illustrated how well a systemized franchise can dominate the planet. Over 36,000 McDonald’s establishments around the world are run by managers barely in their twenties!

                      Soft work skills, however, take time to develop, learn and confidently apply.

                      There is a key combination of work skills that would make any candidate employer’s dream. However, the essential factor underlying all of these work skills is versatility.

                      Equip yourself with these 17 work skills, stay curious and keep learning; and you’ll always nail the job you want.

                      More Resources About Career Success

                      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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