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21 Books Every Entrepreneur Needs to Read Now

21 Books Every Entrepreneur Needs to Read Now

You know something? From my experience in business, I’ve learnt one thing…

If you can’t sell, you will fail.

It doesn’t matter how great your product is – because even the best products need salesmanship. Great products sell themselves is a myth. Great products appear to sell themselves, the truth is – grand master salesmen make it appear that the products are selling themselves – they’re called grand masters for a reason (hint: because you don’t even know they are selling you on it). And because people didn’t feel like they were being sold – they came up with the idea that great products sell themselves…

Great sales people, that’s all there is to say…

So if you want to become a successful entrepreneur, you gotta read the books in this list and you gotta read them…like…NOW!

1. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

Mindset is critical before you start. If you want to be rich, you need to think and act rich. Napoleon Hill studies hundreds or rich men to find out the common secrets rich people possess that the common folk don’t.

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2. Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy

One of the masters of Advertising… David Oglivy. Built one of the biggest advertising agencies and shares basic selling principles in this book.

3. My life in Advertising by Claude Hopkins

Claude Hopkins is the inventor of coupon sampling and test marketing. He changed the advertising industry when advertisers used to focus on how creative their advertisement was, Claude focused on the advertisements that had the highest return. This book shows his life in advertising (as you can tell from the title) a long with selling lessons on the way.

4. Start by Jon Acuff

Fears and worries are available in every single one of us entrepreneurs. We need someone to help us change that fear into awesomeness… that’s what this book does.

5. Zero to One by Peter Thiel

A rare and unique book written by a billionaire. In fact it’s the only book written by a billionaire in this list. Peter Thiel, co founder of PayPal (yeah Elon Musk’s old friend) shares some interesting facts about entrepreneurship like no other entrepreneur has ever written – or at least I haven’t seen. Maybe the stuff he presents is more visible to those who live in Silicon Valley, but whether you live there or not you can now learn it from someone that’s already there.

6. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

A must read for today’s innovative entrepreneurs. In fact if you don’t read this book, you don’t know anything about entrepreneurship. Your product launch won’t succeed without this.

7. Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

Robert compares both a poor and rich dad. You’ll be able to see what makes such a difference in people’s life…perhaps something you’ve been curious to know the answer to.

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8. The 100 Dollar Start Up by Chris Guillebeau

Already an expert? Worked for someone before? You have a skill that you can offer as a service. This book shows you how to launch a quick business at a really low cost and start earning 6+ figures. It also features people like Brian Clark, founder of Copyblogger.

9. The Four Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss

There’s plenty of work to do, but not enough time to do it all. Besides, who wants to live their life just working non-stop? Tim Ferriss shows you how to outsource and eliminate unproductive jobs AND earn more at the same time.

10. The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen

This goes to the tech entrepreneurs out there, from the innovation master Clayton Christensen. This book has been cited by Steve Jobs a long with the rest of the entrepreneurial community. It gives you rules for taking control of innovation.

11. Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins

In the past, advertising was just a random guess. It was all about creativity. Results were not measured. Everything was just chaotic and return on investments were poor. Until Claude Hopkins came and turned it into a science. He tested thousands of ads and analyzed each one. He knew what worked and what didn’t. So if you want consistent results, you need to know why and what works. Even Gary Halbert, one of the top copywriters went through this book over 25 times!

12. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

Effective people get results. The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is the type of work they do. These 7 habits are what make all the difference.

13. The Startup Owner’s Manual by Steve Blank

This is a guide by Stanford professor Steve Blank. The steps in this book are taught at over 100 universities including Stanford. As entrepreneurs we’ve always wanted someone to show us the way…this is it….your guide to building a startup from scratch.

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14. Rework by David Heinemeier and Jason Fried

Rework is all about unconventional ways. It shows you how to succeed faster by being the opposite. A must read for those who hate the old traditional way of doing things.

15. Launch! by Scott Duffy

The difference between a successful idea and an unsuccessful idea is how it launches to market. Therefore knowing how to take your idea to market strategically is the most important step to success. It’s just like racing a car, if you fail at starting the car you get nowhere in the end and if you start late, you lose the race. This book shows you how to go from idea to market in 90 days.

16. The E Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber

You know how there’s a lot of reasons why some businesses don’t work and all the myths that surround business? Well…this book clears that up for you and walks you through the life of a business. You’ll be sure you’re building a healthy business – it’s sort of like learning from other people’s mistakes.

17. No BS Price Strategy by Dan S. Kennedy

Pricing isn’t as straight forward as it seems to be. Prices are what determine how much cash you can make and grow your business. If you price too low, you’ll suffer a slow painful growth or even a business “death.” On the other hand if you price too high then you’ll put the customers expectations so high when they see such a price tag…

So study this part well regardless of how easy it may look.

18. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

If you can influence people, you can sell to them easier. It’s the difference between an influencer and a follower. Imagine people following you because YOU influence them. Just by learning what’s taught in this book, you will become more influential in your field.

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19. Getting to Yes: Negotiating an agreement without giving in by Roger Fisher and William L. Ury.

Whether your customers can negotiate the price for your products or not, you will have to negotiate with your suppliers and employees at some stage.

In fact, negotiation isn’t just important in selling, but also helps in getting people to agree with you. Imagine always hearing a yes?

20. Spin – Selling by Neil Rackham

Selling a low value product isn’t the same as selling a high value product – it’s been tested and studied by Rackham. More than 35,000 sales calls done by 10,000 people over 12 years and the results presented in this book. But it doesn’t end there…leading companies of today use these strategies to earn top dollar.

21. Little Red Book of Selling: 12.5 Principles of Sales Greatness by Jeffrey Gitomer

I left this for last not because it’s the worst, but because it’s an ultimate classic. It’s a short and simple book with a few principles that will help you close sales today and in the future. Jeffrey also explains the why behind it all, so you’ll get to know why you’re doing something rather than blindly following tips someone told you about.

So there it is. 21 books to stack in your personal library if you want to be a one of those successful entrepreneurs who can sell their ideas, products and services.

Featured photo credit: book sale loot/ Ginny via flickr.com

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

Not a lot of people are good at public speaking. You could even say that virtually everyone needs to get some practice, and preferably good guidance, before they can learn to stay calm when facing a room full of people. Having all eyes on you is an uncomfortable experience and it takes time to get used to. However, even if you can manage to control your stage fright and stay focused, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your presentation won’t put people to sleep. This is usually the case with long presentations on a very dull subject, with the presenter speaking in a monotone voice and dimming the lights to play a PowerPoint presentation.

You have to work hard to develop the right skills

If you want to be remembered and actually get people engaged, you need to make your presentation fun and enjoyable, without coming off as corny or desperate to please. I know, it doesn’t sound that easy at all! A good presentation during a promotional event or given to an important client can be a game changer for your business, so it is easy to get stressed out and fail to perform all that well. Luckily, giving an interesting lecture is something that can be practiced and perfected. There is plenty of advice out there on the topic, but let’s look at the most important aspects of giving a memorable and fun presentation.

1. Make your presentation short and sweet

With very long, meandering speeches you tend to lose the audience pretty early on, and from then on out it’s just a test of endurance for the few bravest listeners. Not only will people’s attention start to drop rapidly after sitting and listening to you talk for 30 minutes, but you also risk watering down your core ideas and leaving your audience with little in the way of key phrases and important bits of information to take away from the whole ordeal. Famous speakers throughout history have known the importance of condensing the information by using well thought out sentences and short phrases loaded with meaning.

JFK’s famous: ”It’s not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” expresses so much in very few words and gets the audience thinking. Ancient Spartans, for example were famous for their quick, dry wit, often demolishing their opponent’s argument with a single word or phrase. You’ll want to channel that ancient spirit and be as concise as possible when preparing your presentation.

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2. Open up with a good ice breaker

At the beginning, you are new to the audience. There is no rapport, no trust and the atmosphere is fairly neutral. Even if some of the people there know you personally, the concept of you as an authority on a particular matter giving a speech will be foreign to them. The best way to encourage a warm and friendly atmosphere is to get some kind of emotional response out of the audience right at the beginning. It doesn’t matter what emotion it is, you just need to connect with them on a more personal level. It can be shock, curiosity, laughter, knowing smirks, nervousness – whatever gets them out of that initial feeling of indifference. There are different kinds of effective ice-breakers, but generally speaking, the most successful ones utilize one of these tactics:

  • Joking
  • Tugging on their heart strings
  • Dropping a bombastic statement
  • Telling an interesting and relevant anecdote
  • Using a metaphor or drawing comparisons

You can make a small, self-deprecating comment, stir the presentation one way and then suddenly surprise the audience, use sarcasm, open up with a short childhood story that taught you a lesson, quote a famous person and elaborate on it from personal experience, use an inspirational anecdote or hit them with a bit of nostalgia. Just remember to keep it short and move on once you’ve gotten a reaction.

3. Keep things simple and to the point

Once you’re done warming up the crowd you can ease them into the core concepts and important ideas that you will be presenting. Keep the same presentation style thoughout. If you’ve started off a bit ironic, using dry wit, you can’t just jump into a boring monologue. If you’ve started off with a bang, telling a couple of great little jokes and getting the crowd riled up, you have to keep them happy by throwing in little jokes here and there and being generally positive and energetic during the presentation. You need a certain structure that you won’t deviate too far from at any point. A good game plan consists of several important points that need to be addressed efficiently. This means moving on from one point to another in a logical manner, coming to a sound conclusion and making sure to accentuate the key information.

4. Use a healthy dose of humor

Some of the best speeches and presentations in the world, which have been heard and viewed by millions, all feature plenty of humor. No matter the subject, a great speaker will use natural charisma, humor and beautiful language to convey their points and get the crowd excited about what they are saying. A great example of building rapport with the audience through the use of humor is Barrack Obama talking about the government building Iron Man.

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It is silly and fun, and absolutely not something that you would expect from a man in a position of power speaking in such a serious setting – and it’s exactly why it works. The more serious the situation and the bigger the accent on proper social behavior, the harder your jokes will hit.

5. Try to tell a story instead of ranting

Some people can do all of the above things right and still manage to turn their short and fun little presentation into a chaotic mess of information. You don’t want your speech to look like you just threw a bunch of information in a blender in no particular order. To avoid rambling, create a strong structure. Start with the ice breaker, introduce the core concepts and your goals briefly, elaborate on the various points in a bit more detail, draw logical conclusions and leave your audience with a clear takeaway message. You want to flow naturally from one part to the next like you are telling a big story chapter by chapter.

6. Practice your delivery

Standing in front of the mirror and practicing a speech or presentation is a technique as old as mirrors – well, come to think of it, as old as human speech, since you can see yourself reflected in any clear and calm body of water – and that means that it is tried and true. The theory is incredibly simple, yet the real problem is actually putting in the effort day in and day out. Work on your posture, your tone of voice, accent, pauses between sentences and facial expressions. The most important thing is to talk slowly and loudly enough to be heard and understood clearly. Many famous speakers, such as Demosthenes and King George VI, overcame speech impediments through hard work.

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7. Move around and use your hands

Although you won’t instill confidence in your project if you are very jittery, moving around erratically, not knowing what to do with your hands and making fast movements, standing dead still can be just as bad. You shouldn’t be afraid to use your arms and hands when talking as it makes you seem more passionate and confident. The same goes for moving around and taking up some space. However, try to make slower, calculated and deliberate movements. You want your movements to seem powerful, yet effortless. You can achieve this through practice.

8. Engage the audience by making them relate

Sometimes you will lose the audience somewhat in techno-babble, numbers, graphs and abstract ideas. At that point it is important to reel them back in using some good, old-fashioned storytelling. Make comparisons to events from everyday life that most people are more than familiar with. By making things look simple, not only will you help your audience get a better understanding of the subject by enabling them to visualize the information more clearly, you will also draw a connection between you. After all, you are all just regular people with similar experience, you just happen to be performing different roles at the moment.

9. Use funny images in your slides

Although slides are not really necessary at all times, if you do need them to make your point and present your information more effectively, it’s best to liven them up. They say that facts aren’t always black and white, and your presentation should reflect this. Add a bit of color, make the information stand out and use an interesting animation to switch from slide to slide. You can use the slides to add some more humor, both in terms of the text and the images. An image that is used to elicit a positive response needs to be funny within the context of what you are discussing. For example, if you are discussing the topic of authority, an image of Eric Cartman from South Park in a police uniform, demanding that you respect his “authoritah,” is a nice way to have a bit of fun and lighten things up.

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10. End on a more serious note

When all is said and done you will want the audience to remember the core concepts and keep thinking about what you have said after the presentation is over. This is why you should let things naturally calm down and end with an important idea, quote or even a question. Plant a seed in their mind and make them think. Let us turn to Patrick Henry for a great way to end a speech: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

As you can see, there is quite a bit to learn when it comes to giving a good presentation, one that is both memorable and fun. Be sure to work on your skills tirelessly and follow in the footsteps of great orators.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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