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Six books to challenge how you think about business

Running your own business is hard. You need all the help you can get.

Paul Surtees Oct 02, 2017

There’s no better way to get ahead than reading and, rest assured, there’s a wide range of business and self-help books that can take your business to the next level.

Here are six books that will have an impact on you and your business.


1.Hard Thing about Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

There is much hot air when it comes to writing about business. But Ben Horowitz –of the VC, Andreessen Horowitz – is honest, sometimes brutal in his assessment of what makes a start-up work and thrive.

Horowitz had success during a time when business valuations were distilled from nothing but hot air… so he knows what works and what doesn’t in business, having been round the block in Silicon Valley many times.

If your business has a tech angle (or even if it doesn’t), Horowitz will help.

Quote: “As I got further into it, I realised that embracing the unusual part of my background would be the key to making it through. It will be those things that would give me unique perspectives and approaches to the business. The things that I would bring to the table that nobody else had.”


2.Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss

In Ferriss’ podcast series, he interviews world-class performers and deconstructs their practices so we can learn from the best. His latest book is no different, distilling the best from these podcasts, providing a rich repository of knowledge for all who want to get better in any aspects of their lives.

It’s a must read, and a terrific resource that can help you at any juncture in your personal and professional development.

Quote: “The superheroes you have in your mind are nearly all walking flaws who’ve maximized one or two strengths. Humans are imperfect creatures. You don’t “succeed” because you have no weaknesses; you succeed because you find your unique strengths and focus on developing habits around them.”


3.Eating the Big Fish: How Challenger Brands Can Compete Against Brand Leaders by Adam Morgan

It’s scary to know that the big brands and businesses of this world are even bigger than you think. Market leaders enjoy extra gains when it comes to security, sales and return on every pound of marketing spent.

But Morgan describes how smaller fish, the challenger brands, increasingly have an opportunity to take market share from behemoths if they play smart, market well and get proactive. Rapid growth is possible for SMEs, and Morgan tells you how.

A great guide for all ambitious SME owners who want to mix it with the big fish.

Quote: "The mark of all great challenger brands is their ability to disrupt the norm and create a passionate following. Whether moved by indignation or idealism, consumers engaged by challenger brands transform from a state of apathy to one of vocal buy in … This sheer volume coupled with the authenticity of genuine consumer referrals works its magic, creating a critical mass resulting in rapid growth".


4.Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy

The Bible of business books.

All businesses rely heavily on sales, and there is no better guide to achieving a higher volume of sales than Ogilvy’s 1963 masterpiece.

Whether you’re leading a company of one or one thousand, you will without doubt learn from Ogilvy’s classic work.

Quote: “The consumer isn't a moron. She is your wife.” 


5.Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don't by Jim Collins

This classic is a “must have” for business owners. Collins took an analytical approach to investigating what makes some businesses good, others great. He analysed 1,400 companies and narrows them down to a list of 11 that sustained excellence. Collins found successful companies were bound by characteristics that contributed to their success, including discipline, spirit and an open attitude towards tech.

A business book that will stand the test of time. If you want your business to last, you should read it.

Quote: “Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline.”


6.The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future by Kevin Kelly

Kelly, co-founder of WIRED, guides us through the imperatives he believes will shape our lives over the coming years. If you’re in charge of a business that wants to survive thirty years and beyond, it’s vital to understand the technologies that will shape the environment around us. Kelly’s book can help.

Unlike other books, this book isn’t about what Kelly has learnt from the past. It’s about what we should expect from the future and how best to prepare for it.

Quote: “This is not a race against the machines. If we race against them, we lose. This is a race with the machines. You’ll be paid in the future based on how well you work with robots. Ninety percent of your co-workers will be unseen machines.”

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