Before successful companies got established, they undeniably read up on the best business books in the market. That goes without saying, getting inspiration from business people with ample experience will bring you a step closer to your vision. (Check out the 3 Stages of a Business Life)
Although not many might be competent enough to carry out their business goals, at least a few motivators will encourage entrepreneurs to dust themselves up and try again. After all, isn’t that what establishing a business is all about?
If you’re still at sixes and sevens about which successful business books you must read, here are top 10 business books to get you started.
1. The Intelligent Investor
Author: Benjamin Graham
Summary: This business book is about having long-term business strategies, so entrepreneurs get steady profits, and this is called “value investing.”
Benjamin Graham shares his rags-to-riches principles in The Intelligent Investor. Before he became a hit in Wall Street, he jotted down a blow-by-blow account of his investing journey in 1949.
The three key takeaways from this book boil down to the three lessons in investing:
- Use the three principles to invest wisely: focusing on long-term goals and results, preparing for losses, and never dwelling on the profits.
- Don’t rely on Mr. Market as he’s very volatile
- Adhere to your proven and tested investing strategy
2. The Innovator’s Dilemma
Author: Clayton M. Christensen
Summary: The Innovator’s Dilemma explains how powerful disrupting the industry is through innovation.
Steve Jobs considered this as one of the best business books around. He claimed it helped him embrace the cloud computing system. And you can learn a couple of lessons from this book.
The first is that the technologies are either sustaining or disruptive. The former defines technologies that outwit the competition by constantly improving their features or functionalities. On the other hand, the latter relies on entirely new technologies that provide new and useful methods for particular target markets.
Secondly, a company’s resources, processes, and values should match the market’s needs. Otherwise, your efforts will be futile. Companies are often loaded with resources, which refer to anything companies buy or hire. However, the processes and values are sometimes rigid. And this system fails because the market will never accept you regardless of how excellent the resources are.
Finally, you might have to accept that your current business has rigid processes and values. And that’s okay. One solution is to acquire a subsidiary with killer processes and values, then hire resources.
3. Getting Things Done
Author: David Allen
Summary: This productivity book helps entrepreneurs carry out their tasks efficiently by having a methodological system such as to-do lists and weekly reviews.
David Allen recommends performing weekly reviews to focus on the week ahead. You can meet up with your team or check in on your priorities, so you know what matters most.
Getting Things Done is one of the best business books that sold more than 1.5 million copies! The Getting Things Done system is quite simple, and you can jot it down on paper or even on your portable gadgets.
A couple of lessons from this book are using a “collection bucket” to store essential tasks that pop up randomly in your mind. You can store these “random reminders” on soft or hard copies. However, Allen suggests ticking off the bucket list weekly to gain satisfaction from it.
Next is to create a “next actions” list where you jot down particular tasks of your projects at hand. This way, you’ll always know what to work on next. The last lesson is to do a weekly review to empty your list by the end of the week. Update it again before the week starts.
Author: Angela Duckworth
Summary: This business book explains how grit is the end-all-be-all in business. When coupled with passion and perseverance, anyone can attain outstanding achievements.
Grit is defined as the determination and courage amidst difficulties. And Angela Duckworth proves that grit might be the secret sauce in incredible undertakings. Whether you’re aiming for excellence in business, parenting, or sports, you need grit to succeed.
Criticized by her father early on for her lack of “genius,” Duckworth bounced back and is one of the pioneering psychologists in Oxford, Harvard, and the University of Pennsylvania. She was also deemed the 2013 MacArthur “Genius” Fellow.
Here are three crucial lessons from Grit:
- Some people think hard work is more important than talent. However, we know deep down that’s not an entirely accurate statement.
- Effort has a greater impact on your achievements compared to talent.
- Bigger goals inspire you long-term. However, small, daily goals help you achieve wins, gain progress, and stay motivated.
5. The End of Power
Author: Moisés Naím
Summary: The End of Power talks about how power from tycoons and large corporations is being disseminated into ordinary people and smaller brands.
The End of Power has gained traction among industry leaders, including Mark Zuckerberg. The man behind Facebook recommended this book to his virtual reading circle, “A Year of Books,” and it sold out within 48 hours. This book was also voted by The Financial Times as the best book in 2013.
It talks about how power doesn’t disappear. Instead, it only revolutionizes. It shifts from the most giant corporations and people down to micro-powers within smaller organizations and individuals. And this is due to a couple of factors, such as changing consumer behavior and preference.
Also, more countries and people are slowly getting a taste of power. And while power sometimes brings up challenges, it’s easy to overcome these with the right strategies.
6. The Lean Startup
Author: Eric Reis
Summary: This book encourages entrepreneurs to establish a growth engine and create an effective budget management system to gain traction in the business world.
The Lean Startup is a book for entrepreneurs and wanna-be entrepreneurs who want to materialize their amazing ideas. If you’re someone with innovative business concepts, read this book for inspiration.
Eric Reis talks about a semi-scientific strategy that doesn’t compromise actions and results. Moreover, the book mentions a “semi-scientific” method of planning your business strategies over and over again. This means, you can think of an incredible business idea, establish a lucrative business structure, and validate it.
Create a hypothesis for your business concept. Then find people who will likely be interested in your idea and are willing to pay for it.
Another lesson entrepreneurs can apply in their current business plans is A/B testing. Split testing or A/B testing allows you to nit-pick the features that people are willing to pay for. This also allows you to nip those unnecessary features in the bud.
The final lesson from The Lean Startup is to shy away from vanity metrics. Some brands are all for Facebook likes or page views. But do these metrics matter? Yes, and no. Yes, in the sense that it can attract more followers. And no, because they won’t pay the bills. Metrics such as app downloads, customer recommendations, email sign-ups, and conversions are what matter.
7. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Author: Stephen R. Covey
Summary: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People explains how changing your view of the world will immensely improve both professional and personal effectiveness.
One of the best business books ever written, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a true classic. This book has helped millions of entrepreneurs, young professionals, Presidents, and CEOs worldwide. For over 25 years, this book has served as the “bible” for entrepreneurs eyeing success.
Covey talks about the seven habits you need to be effective, not efficient. These are:
- Be proactive
- Begin with the end in mind
- Put first things first
- Think win-win
- Seek first to understand, then to be understood
- Sharpen the saw
8. Radical Candor
Author: Kim Scott
Summary: This is the ultimate book for people who aspire to be leaders as well as teaching them how to foster connections, motivate people, or terminate them when necessary.
This is a no-fuss book by Kim Scott, a successful leader who formerly worked at Google and Apple. Although the Radical Candor was only published in 2017, Scott received international fame because of her leadership principles. She teaches a management class to put her leadership philosophies into practice.
Three of the best lessons you can learn from the Radical Candor are:
- Radical means thorough, while candor means being open and honest. That said, you must know how to tell people they need to improve without offending them.
- Being a great leader means collaborating with your subordinates and team instead of bossing them around. Work side by side with your team, instead of passing on a task, and waiting for completion.
- A fantastic leader listens to their employees to know what their aspirations and dreams in life are. This way, you can motivate them or even help them reach it.
9. In Search of Excellence
Author: Thomas Peters and Robert H. Waterman
Summary: In Search of Excellence is based on interviews, principles, and success stories of America’s 43 top companies.
This book unveils all the secrets to run a company. You’ll read about the struggles, lessons, values, and successful undertakings from the world’s best-run companies. Learn from companies like IBM, Apple, HP, Proctor & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, and more.
In Search of Excellence summarizes eight applicable principles that any entrepreneur can use to run a business. These are:
- A bias for action
- Close to the customer
- Autonomy and entrepreneurship
- Productivity through people
- Hands on, value driven
- Stick to the knitting
- Simple form, lean staff
- Simultaneous loose-tight properties
Read more details about each principle here.
10. Steve Jobs
Author: Walter Isaacson
Summary: This is an autobiography of Steve Jobs, the genius behind the tech company Apple, and the passion that fueled his drive for creativity and innovation.
Apple started in Steve Jobs’ garage. One of the best business books recounts the phases Jobs underwent to bring Apple to its multi-trillion dollar record. This book is based on over 40 interviews with Jobs in more than two years up to his death.
When tied together, Steve Jobs showed how creativity and technology can do all sorts of magical things. The secret sauce of where all the imagination came from was his “reality distortion field” concept.
This means, there’s no such thing as impossible. Apple and its staff can think of the craziest ideas, and all they have to do is bend reality to make it possible. And that’s how Apple got its reputation for being one of the most highly advanced tech companies worldwide.
These best business books should guide aspiring and struggling entrepreneurs to make it to the top. Running a company requires dedication, hard work, talent, skill, and a bit of motivation to reach the pinnacle of success. And these 10 top business books are the only resources you need to stay on track.