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Last Updated on November 14, 2017

20 Books to Read Before You Start Your Own Business

20 Books to Read Before You Start Your Own Business

If you dream of starting your own business, there is a way to go around enrolling to business school. Many successful CEOs have actually never been to college and yet they are among the most knowledgeable individuals in their business and industry. You can turn to a more grassroots approach to learn everything you need to know about starting a business by reading the words of those who have been down the entrepreneurial path before.

While no single business “How-to” or “”How-I” book contains all the information you need to launch a successful business, a collection of quality books can help you glean vital wisdom and inspiration before you take the plunge. Here is a list of 20 books I would comfortably recommend to any serious would-be founder.

1. Will It Fly? by Thomas K. McKnight

Will It Fly by Thomas K. McKnight

    One of the biggest questions aspiring founders grapple with before they make the leap into entrepreneurship is how to know if their new business idea has wings. Will the business idea take off or fall flat? McKnight offers a 44-item checklist drawn from his immense depth of experience in business launches to help you evaluate your new business ideas. His book will guide you through everything from evaluating your personal attitudes to your business exist strategy. In the end, you should have a clear idea of what your chances of success are.

    2. Lucky Or Smart? by Bo Peabody

    Lucky Or Smart by Bo Peabody

      Bo Peabody was an Internet multimillionaire by his late twenties after co-founding five different companies in different industries. Was Peabody plain lucky or smart to have achieved this feat at his age? He addresses this question in his book and helps us understand how luck and intelligence work together. Peabody notably observes that he was at least smart enough to know when he was getting lucky and goes in depth to teach us how we too can cultivate the same perception and advantage.

      3. The Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte

      The Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte

        If you’ve been timid about taking the plunge into entrepreneurship, Danielle La Porte’s book is designed to give you that little nudge you need to get right on with it and launch your biz. This beautifully written book, chock-full of personal anecdotes and motivational goodies features 16 elaborate startup sessions that will shake action out of you. This is a pleasurable, self-help read that is definitely one to consider if you are looking for something to get you fired up for the entrepreneurial journey ahead.

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        4. Million Dollar Consulting by Alan Weiss

        Million Dollar Consulting by Alan Weiss

          Million Dollar Consulting is what many people in business circles call the consultant’s bible. The book has earned Alan Weiss the enviable tag of “Rock Star of Consulting.” If you are selling yourself into the C-suite, this is your book. The book covers the fundamentals from setting up your office to writing proposals and delegating labor, as well as effective networking and pricing strategies.

          5. Start Run & Grow a Successful Small Business by Toolkit Media Group

          Start Run n Grow a Successful Small Business by Toolkit Media Group

            If you are looking for the perfect all-in-one small business reference book, this is one of the best references you will get. The book walks you through the entire process of setting up a business from planning to accounting and staffing with handy checklists, case studies and model business plans to help you start and grow your business. You will learn effective human resource management strategies including payroll, benefits, hiring and firing methods.

            6. The Barefoot Executive by Carrie Wilkerson

            The Barefoot Executive

              Wilkerson’s personal story of how life circumstances forced her to work from home is both inspiring and enlightening. If you are thinking of starting a home-based or online business, this book is for you. The book tackles topics like how to find your target market, develop effective marketing strategies and build your brand with easy-to-understand and follow charts and tables. This is a good read for all those in “soft” services like online marketers, consultants and other service providers.

              7. The Business Start-Up Kit by Steven D. Strauss

              The Business Start-Up Kit by Steven D. Strauss

                Steven D. Strauss, small business columnist for USAToday.com and one of the nation’s foremost authorities on small businesses, certainly knows his game. In this book, Strauss offers a compendium of valuable information to benefit every aspiring founder who wants to start and succeed in business. He explains what works and what doesn’t work in start-ups and offers ample tips and guidance on, among other things, picking a business and why one’s passion is important.

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                8. Start Your Own Business by Rieva Lesonsky

                Start Your Own Business by Rieva Lesonsky

                  Who are better placed to understand what it takes to start a business than Rieva Leonsky and the editors of Entrepreneur magazine? This book that bears the tagline: “The only start-up book you’ll ever need” is thorough in a quest to live up to its high premise. Now in its fourth edition, the book has sold more than 200,000 copies and become widely regarded as the quintessential business start-up book for people starting their own businesses.

                  9. The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki

                  The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki

                    Guy Kawasaki’s startup classic is a great replacement for whatever textbook you would use in an entrepreneurship class to prepare for business ownership. The book offers insider information on a wide range of topics, covering all stages of the start-up process from raising money to motivating staff. Kawasaki offers many golden nuggets of information like how investors will view you, which is helpful for those seeking external financing.

                    10. Escape from Cubicle Nation by Pamela Slim

                    Escape from Cubicle Nation by Pamela Slim

                      If you are currently an employee for a corporation somewhere silently wishing you could start your own business and be your own boss, this book is for you. If you recently left your corporate job to start your own business, this book is for you too. Pamela Slim lucidly explains everything you need to know about starting a business before and soon after you take the plunge from how to get clients to how to get insurance. She offers valuable guidance and motivation that will re-energize and reinforce your commitment to escape the corporate cubicle horde for good.

                      11. The Business Planning Guide by David H. Bangs Jr.

                      The Business Planning Guide by David H. Bangs Jr.

                        The Business Planning Guide is one of those sobering guide books that offer a reassuring voice of experience when venturing into the unknown waters of business startups. Bangs Jr., a former banker and entrepreneur, draws on his vast experience and provides expert guidance on different aspects of launching a new business venture, including how to analyze your business strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and current market conditions. Some people consider this book an essential “compass” and “map” for anyone embarking on the entrepreneurial journey for the first time.

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                        12. Startup from the Ground Up by Cynthia Kocialski

                        Startup from the Ground Up by Cynthia Kocialski

                          Kocialski is a talented writer and her book a handy resource for anyone with a new business idea but isn’t sure where to begin. The book provides useful information to help you transform your idea into a business. You will learn how to take your service or product concept and translate it into a viable business model, as well as how to seek funding and recruit and hire an effective team. If you are ready to build a successful business not just a job, grab this book and read everything the author has to say.

                          13. The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau

                          The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau

                            The $100 Startup is a book I enjoyed reading both for the pleasure of it and value it provides. Guillebeau gives a rousing case for creative thinking and how you can (and should) leverage your natural talent or long-loved hobby to build a thriving business. He gives compelling case studies of somewhat-accidental, but passionate entrepreneurs who built businesses earning more than $50,000 from very modest budgets (often $100 or less). If you’re looking to build a small business that allows you to lead a location independent lifestyle of adventure, meaning and purpose, this is the book that will point you in that direction.

                            14. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

                            The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

                              The Lean Startup is a book you will find handy if you are looking to start a software or technology-based business. Author Eric Ries shares insightful stories and case studies from his experience with software startups and other companies during the dot com boom. Ries teaches on the principles of lean manufacturing and advocates continuous innovation tocreate radically successful businesses. You will find this book especially valuable if you lack experience in creating and measuring business processes.

                              15. The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber

                              The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber

                                Michel Gerber is credited for popularizing the important distinction between working “on” and working “in” your business. If you don’t know what the distinction is, you need to grab this underground bestseller and find out. The book will walk you through the entire steps in the life of a business from idea infancy, through to the troubling pains of business adolescence and the sweet stage of business maturity, as well as dispel any myths surrounding starting a business that you may have. You will also learn how common place advice and assumptions can get in the way of establishing a successful business.

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                                16. The Startup Owner’s Manual by Steve Blank

                                The Startup Owners Manual by Steve Blank and Bob Dorf

                                  If you are thinking of starting a Silicon Valley style scalable startup, this bestselling classic by Silicon Valley serial-entrepreneur and academician Steve Blank is a near-encyclopedic guide you ought to get. The book offers a scientific approach to entrepreneurship that emphasizes on the need for “rigorous and repeated testing” to unlock the secret to startup success. The authors draw from The Four Steps to the Epiphany, one of the most influential and practical customer development business book available.

                                  17. Rework by Jason Fried and David Hansson

                                  Rework by Jason Fried and David Hansson

                                    Rework is a collection of essays drawn from the authors’ design and usability blog, Signal vs. Noise by 37signals.com. The authors lay bare the philosophies and strategies that have helped propel 37signals to its enviable success with the aim to inspire us to put the strategies into practice. If you would like to hear an alternative voice to much of the startup advice given out there and learn how to make money as a primary goal in the early part of your startup, this is a quick-read book you should definitely get.

                                    18. The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss

                                    The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss

                                      It’s difficult to read The 4-Hour Workweek without feeling fired up and ready to go. The book is fun, inspirational and quite motivational. It teaches the intricacies of how to create an automated income-generator that leaves you free to pursue your other passions, such as traveling. If you’ve heard of the Pareto Principle (otherwise known as the 80/20 rule), this book explores surprising applications of the principle and offers some useful information about building a successful web business.

                                      19. Flying Without a Net by Thomas J. DeLong

                                      Flying Without a Net by Thomas J. DeLong

                                        Flying Without a Net isn’t exactly about how to start a business, but it explores a series of personality traits and anxieties among would-be entrepreneurs that often sabotage the very success high achievers seek when starting a venture. The book teaches how to draw strength from your vulnerability and adopt practices that give you the courage to “do the right things poorly” before “doing the right things well.” If you like a little psychoanalysis and would like to realign your entrepreneurial sensibilities, this is a book that should be at the top of your reading list.

                                        20. Founders at Work by Jessica Livingston

                                        Founders at Work by Jessica Livingston

                                          Founders at Work is a brilliant collection of interviews with successful entrepreneurs from the 80s and 90s sprinkled with an adequate dose of newer blood. The book is weighted more toward inspiration than technical instruction, but there is nothing quite like hearing the stories of the world’s most celebrated founders like Steve Wozniak (Apple) and Max Levchin (PayPal) tell us straight how it was for them in the very early days. You will hear how these entrepreneurs got the ideas that made them rich, launched their businesses, went out of business, overcame start-up challenges and the lessons they learned along the way. If I could recommend only one book to a new entrepreneur, this would be it.

                                          More by this author

                                          David K. William

                                          David is a publisher and entrepreneur. He is also the founding editor of Web Writer Spotlight.

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                                          1 8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More 2 How Exercising Makes You More Productive 3 10 Practical Ways to Drastically Improve Your Time Management Skills 4 15 Highly Successful People Who Failed On Their Way To Success 5 How to Memorize More and Faster Than Other People

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                                          Last Updated on September 20, 2018

                                          8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

                                          8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

                                          You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

                                          Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

                                          When you train your brain, you will:

                                          • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
                                          • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
                                          • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

                                          So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

                                          1. Work your memory

                                          Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

                                          When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

                                          If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

                                          The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

                                          Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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                                          Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

                                          What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

                                          For example, say you just met someone new:

                                          “Hi, my name is George”

                                          Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

                                          Got it? Good.

                                          2. Do something different repeatedly

                                          By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

                                          Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

                                          It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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                                          And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

                                          But how does this apply to your life right now?

                                          Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

                                          Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

                                          Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

                                          So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

                                          You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

                                          That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

                                          3. Learn something new

                                          It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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                                          For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

                                          Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

                                          You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

                                          4. Follow a brain training program

                                          The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

                                          5. Work your body

                                          You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

                                          Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

                                          Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

                                          Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

                                          6. Spend time with your loved ones

                                          If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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                                          If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

                                          I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

                                          7. Avoid crossword puzzles

                                          Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

                                          Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

                                          Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

                                          8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

                                          Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

                                          When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

                                          So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

                                          The bottom line

                                          Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

                                          Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

                                          Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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