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21 Books Every Entrepreneur Needs to Read Now

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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 August 25, 2021

Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

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Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

As a recruiter, I have met and interviewed hundreds of candidates who have no idea who they are.

Without a personal brand, candidates struggle to answer the question: “tell me about yourself—who are you?” They have no idea about who they are, what their strengths are, and how they can add value to the company. They present their CV’s believing that their CV is the key to their career success. In some ways, your CV still has its use. However, in today’s job market, you need more than a CV to stand out in a crowd.

According to Celinne Da Costa:[1]

“Personal brand is essentially your golden ticket to networking with the right people, getting hired for a dream job, or building an influential business.” She believes that “a strong personal brand allows you to stand out in an oversaturated marketplace by exposing desired audiences to your vision, skillset, and personality in a way that is strategically aligned with your career goals.”

A personal brand opens up your world to so many more career opportunities that you would never have been exposed to with just your CV.

What Is Your Personal Brand?

“Personal branding is how you distinctively market your uniqueness.” —Bernard Kelvin Clive

Today, the job market is very competitive and tough. Having a great CV will only let you go so far because everyone has a CV, but no one else has your distinct personal brand! It is your personal brand that differentiates you from everyone else and that is what people buy—you.

Your personal brand is your mark on the world. It is how people you interact with and the world see you. It is your legacy—it is more important than a business brand because your personal brand lasts forever.

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I have coached people who have very successful careers, and they come to me because they have suddenly found that they are not getting the opportunities or having the conversations that would them to their next role. They are having what I call a “career meltdown,” all because they have no personal brand.

A personal brand helps you become conscious of your differences and your uniqueness. It allows you to position yourself in a way that makes you stand out from the pack, especially among other potential job applicants.

Don’t get me wrong, having a great CV and a great LinkedIn profile is important. However, there are a few steps that you have to take to have a CV and LinkedIn profile that is aligned to who you are, the value you offer to the market, and the personal guarantee that you deliver results.

Building your personal brand is about strategically, creatively, and professionally presenting what makes you, you. Knowing who you are and the value you bring to the table enables you to be more informed, agile, and adaptable to the changing dynamic world of work. This is how you can avoid having a series of career meltdowns.

Your Personal Brand Is Essential for Your Career Success

In her article, Why Personal Branding Is More Important Than Ever, Caroline Castrillon outlines key reasons why a personal brand is essential for career success.

According to Castrillon,[2]

“One reason is that it is more popular for recruiters to use social media during the interview process. According to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process, and 43% of employers use social media to check on current employees.”

The first thing I do as a recruiter when I want to check out a candidate or coaching client is to look them up on LinkedIn or other social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Your digital footprint is the window that highlights to the world who you are. When you have no control over how you want to be seen, you are making a big mistake because you are leaving it up to someone else to make a judgment for you as to who you are.

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As Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, once said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.”

In her book, Becoming, Michelle Obama writes about the importance of having a personal brand and her journey to defining her personal brand. She wrote that:

“if you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.”

When you have a personal brand, you are in control. You know exactly what people will say about you when you leave the room.

The magic of a personal brand is that gives you control over how you want to be seen in the world. Your confidence and self-belief enable you to leverage opportunities and make informed decisions about your career and your future. You no longer experience the frustrations of a career meltdown or being at a crossroads not knowing what to do next with your career or your life. With a personal brand, you have focus, clarity, and a strategy to move forward toward future success.

Creating your personal brand does not happen overnight. It takes a lot of work and self-reflection. You will be expected to step outside of your comfort zone not once, but many times.

The good news is that the more time you spend outside of your comfort zone, the more you will like being there. Being outside of your comfort zone is where you can test the viability of and fine-tune your personal brand.

5 Key Steps to Creating Your Personal Brand

These five steps will help you create a personal brand that will deliver you the results you desire with your career and in life.

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1. Set Your Personal Goals

What is it that you want to do in the next five years? What will your future self be doing in the next five to ten years? What is important to you? If you can answer these questions, then you are on the right path. If not, then you have to start thinking about them.

2. Create Your Unique Value Proposition

Create your unique value proposition by asking yourself these four questions:

  1. What are your personality features? What benefit do you offer people?
  2. Who are you and why do people enjoy working with you?
  3. What do you do and what do people want you to do for them? How do you solve their problems?
  4. What makes you different from others like you?

The answers to these questions will give you the information you need to create your professional story, which is the key step to creating your personal brand.

3. Write Your Professional Story

Knowing who you are, what you want, and the unique value you offer is essential to you creating your professional story. People remember stories. Your personal story incorporates your value proposition and tells people who you are and what makes you unique. This is what people will remember about you.

4. Determine Which Platforms Will Support Your Personal Brand

Decide which social media accounts and online platforms will best represent your brand and allow you to share your voice. In a professional capacity, having a LinkedIn profile and a CV that reflects your brand is key to your positioning in relation to role opportunities. People will be connecting with you because they will like the story you are telling.

5. Become Recognized for Sharing Your Knowledge and Expertise

A great way for you to promote yourself is by sharing knowledge and helping others. This is where you prove you know your stuff and you gain exposure for doing so. You can do this through social media, writing, commenting, video, joining professional groups, networking, etc. Find your own style and uniqueness and use it to attract clients, the opportunities, or the jobs you desire.

The importance of having a personal brand is not going to go away. In fact, it is the only way where you can stand out and be unique in a complex changing world of work. If you don’t have a personal brand, someone will do it for you. If you let this happen, you have no control and you may not like the story they create.

Standing out from others takes time and investment. Most people cannot make the change by themselves, and this is where engaging a personal brand coach is a viable option to consider.

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As a personal brand coach, working with my clients to create their personal brand is my passion. I love the fact that we can work together to create a personal story that defines exactly what people will say when you leave the room.

Other People’s Stories

Listening to other people’s stories is a great way to learn. In his article, 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding, Rafael Dos Santos presents the best Ted Talks where speakers share their stories about the “why,” “what,” and “how” of personal branding.((GuidedPR: 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding))

Take some time out to listen to these speakers sharing their stories and thoughts about personal branding. You will definitely learn so much about how you can start your journey of defining yourself and taking control of your professional and personal life.

Your personal brand, without a doubt, is your secret weapon to your career success. As Michelle Obama said,

“your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.”

So, go own your story. Go on the journey to create your personal brand that defines who you are, highlights your uniqueness, and the value you offer to the world.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

Reference

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