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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 September 18, 2019

11 Hard Skills That Will Land You More Career Opportunities

11 Hard Skills That Will Land You More Career Opportunities

Are you looking to move up the career ladder? Or maybe you’re tired of having a “job” and want to start looking for a more permanent career?

Whatever your motivation, you are going to have to learn some new and different hard skills to broaden your opportunities. After all, there’s a very famous quote that says:

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

While the insanity part doesn’t really fit here, the overall message is a good one. If you are looking for a different result (career advancement, more money or even a career instead of a job), it’s up to you to make it happen. This is both the good news and bad news!

The good news is that because it’s up to you, you have complete control over it happening. The bad news is that change is hard. Humans are creatures of habit, that’s why we develop routines, and anything that disrupts that routine causes us anxiety. And we will do almost anything to get rid of that anxiety. The overweight person will calm their anxiety by eating that doughnut, the smoker will light up a cigarette to avoid anxiety.

What we want to do with this article is to give you the hard skills you’ll need to reduce that anxiety so you can move up that corporate ladder, make more money or have career instead of just a “job.”

The following hard skills are essential to learn if you want to advance your career. They may not be easy to take up, but definitely worth your effort of learning:

1. Cloud Computing

“Simply put, cloud computing is the delivery of computing services—servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, intelligence and more—over the Internet “the cloud” to offer faster innovation, flexible resources, and economies of scale. You typically pay only for cloud services you use, helping lower your operating costs, run your infrastructure more efficiently, and scale as your business needs change.” Microsoft[1]

There are many different jobs available in the cloud computing world today. They range from architects and developers to data scientists, security pros. Each job is its own specialty and requires a high level of specification for advancement.

This is definitely a hard skill that requires education. But if the tech world and computers are your thing you can make cloud computing a lucrative career.

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2. Data Mining and Statistical Analysis

Again, these are highly specialized fields. Data mining is defined as using large sets of data to look for anomalies and other patterns that can be used to predict future behavior.

Amazon is probably the best known company to use data mining. Have you ever noticed that when you buy something at Amazon, you’ll see a little ad at the bottom that says “customers who bought this also bought…”and it lists 2-3 other items? All of that information comes from data mining, by examining the millions of sales amazon makes they can predict that if you buy item #1 there is a high likelihood that you will buy one of the other items too. T

his not only increases sales for Amazon, but it also serves as a reminder for you that you may need these additional items for your project. This is very valuable information and has a wide range of uses. Although it has a bad reputation and evil sounding name, it is a very useful tool for maximizing productivity and sales.

3. Data Management

All companies today deal with a ton of data! Being able to manage that data in an efficient manor is not only highly prized, but a necessity.

We all have these things on our desks called computers. Unless there is a need for a paper copy, almost all of our data is computerized. Meaning that, in theory it is all at our fingertips. Being able to organize that data so that it’s easily and quickly retrievable is why computers are replacing filing cabinets!

However, just like the old fashion filing cabinet, data management on a computer is only good if it’s well organized. You want to make sure that you are keeping your data well organized so that it’s easy to find when needed. This is a skill that comes easily to some people (are you a person that makes lists? Good!) but with others it will be a skill that needs to be practices. Make sure that this is a discipline you master.

4. Scheduling

Being able to make and keep to a schedule is a very useful tool in both business and life. Effective scheduling means that you can prioritize projects, understand the tools needed to get the job done on time and that you are organized enough to lead people.

An important point here is to write things down! Whether it’s in an old fashion daily or weekly organizer or in a PDA. Have a copy of your schedule available at your fingertips at all times.

5. Financial Skills

These are especially important when looking for that promotion. The higher up the ladder you go, the more you’ll have to deal with things like accounting, budgeting, financial planning and cash flow management.

While you may not need to be an expert at all of these, you should have a good grasp of all of them. This is where taking a few night classes at your local community college is a good idea. You don’t need to become an expert, but brushing up on these skills will help you tremendously.

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6. Research Skills

These are important in all aspects of life, but especially in your work-life.

Are you looking for that first job out of school? Nothing impresses a boss or hiring manager more than someone who has researched the company. Trust me, they deal with people walking in off the street everyday looking for a job, but managers and owners need to see the value in hiring (or promoting) you.

So do your research and have some company specific questions ready to ask. Show that you are interested in working for that company or that position and not just “a” job or the “promotion” because you have seniority or need the money.

If it’s a promotion that you are after, never bad mouth the previous occupant. Instead pick out an example that he/she was good at and explain how you would like to use or expand that policy and how it would enhance the policy changes you’d like to make.

If it’s a new job you’re going for, then make sure to have some company specific questions ready to show that you have done your homework for the new position.

7. Marketing Skills

While marketing a companies products or services has always been a highly sought after skill. In today’s world, it can take on several different forms.

Some of the marketing skills that are highly sought after today include, SEO, Search Engine Optimization, SEM, Search Engine Marketing and marketing campaign management. Familiarity with Google Analytics as well as Word Press are also valuable.

While traditional marketing and branding were focused on advertising and selling. Almost all marketing efforts now a days are focused on the internet.

8. Network Security Specialist

Again, this is a highly skilled position that requires specialized training. But the amount of data that all companies store is significant, and if that data is leaked or stolen, it can costs them millions of dollars in both lost revenue and lawsuits.

So, if you have an interest in network security you will find the field both lucrative and stable.

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9. Communication Skills

At first glance, communication skills may not look like it fits into the category of “Hard Skills” that can help you succeed. But in this ever shrinking world where companies can do business from almost anywhere, communication is more and more important.

Are you bilingual? It really doesn’t matter what language you speak, there’s a company out there looking for someone who speaks that language.

10. Computer Programming

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure that computers are going to be around for a while! As both the hardware and software get more advanced, the need for computer programming is only going to increase.

11. Graphic Design

As of 2018, there were 4.37 million new websites launched.[2] A good number of them will fail because they just aren’t interesting enough visually. The use of templates and replicated websites is only making the problem worse.

Part of the way Google ranks sites is through originality, this almost ensures that replicated sites will never get ranked through Google. So the more original your site is, the more likely people will visit and actually spend time there.

That is what a good graphic designer does. Takes your basic idea and turns it into a website that people actually want to visit.

Embrace the Anxiety That Comes with Change

You know it’s going to be there, you know that you’ll want to give up as you’re learning these new skills but, you’ll also know that the end result is worth the journey.

Here’s a little trick when you’re feeling overwhelmed:

Have you ever met an ex-smoker who was sorry they quit? An ex-drinker or drug user that said life was much better before they quit? These people have gone through some of the most difficult challenges humans can go through including weeks, if not, months of intense physical withdrawal symptoms. They did it because they knew that the pain and anxiety they would experience would ultimately get them to a much better life.

Now what was that complaint you had about attending night-school?

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This is the part everyone hates, everyone thinks night-school, adult education and just generally giving up family and/or spare time. While those are certainly possible ways to develop the necessary skills, they aren’t the only way.

You’ll want to check with your human resources department because depending on the company, a certain degree maybe required in order to even be considered for a position. In those cases, night-school, on-line or some other form of adult education maybe your best route.

But as long as a degree isn’t required, then your options are wide open.

Let’s just say that you’re a sales person interested in becoming the sales manager but, the territory you’ve been given will never produce the sales figures that would make you stand out as a good candidate for sales manager. So how about you start your own side business (don’t compete with your company), but let’s say you enjoy golf.

In this day and age, there are plenty of places that will teach you how to sell products on-line and even set you up with your own website. So you start a site selling golf equipment and accessories (don’t worry, you won’t even have to carry inventory or worry about shipping).

Now, when that sales manager spot opens up, you can explain that even though other salespeople had better numbers than you, it had nothing to do with your sales ability, it was more of a consequence of the territory your were given.

And to prove it, you brought in some information about a side business, you started showing that you’re on target for a sales growth rate of 30% this year. And because you had to do all of the marketing for the business, you came up with some marketing strategies that you can bring to the new job (built-in experience).

The Bottom Line

We’ve put together these 11 hard skills as a way to give yourself a “leg up” on the competition. We’ve tried to make this a mixture of both skills that require a great deal of training, and also ones that you can work on and develop by yourself.

We know that not everyone is cut out to be a cloud computing expert, but we also know that working on and having good scheduling skills will make you a much more desirable candidate for the position!

We also don’t want you to discount the idea of a “side hustle“. Especially for people new to the workforce, having a business that you have started and run successfully shows potential employers that you have initiative, scheduling skills and ambition which can put you well ahead of your competition!

As usual, we hope you found this article both enjoyable and informative. If you did, may we ask that you share it with your family and friends through social media. It really does help us and is greatly appreciated!

More Skill to Help Advance Your Career

Featured photo credit: Kyle Sterk via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Microsoft Azure: Cloud Computing
[2] Netcraft: December 2018 Web Server Survey

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