You’ve heard the saying, “reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body,” right? OK, well, you have now and we think it’s a pretty important saying. Whether the book is Self-Help (not that you need it!) or How-To-Build-A-Snowman (you might need it. This is Wisconsin.), whether you use it to gain information or to escape and relax, reading keeps your mind sharp and makes you smarter. (It’s scientifically proven! We think.) But we know as small-business owners your time is precious and reading is probably put on the back burner more than you’d like to admit. So in the interest of saving you some time, we’ve compiled a list of 5 of our favorite small-business books that we think will be worthy of your time. You’re welcome.
1. “The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It” by Michael E. Gerber
Originally published in 1985 (revised and updated in 2009), small-business consultant and author Michael Gerber explains that most entrepreneurs are actually technicians. That is to say, they know how to fix things or make things, but when it comes to building a business, the entrepreneur part fails. The “e-myth” or “entrepreneurial myth” is the myth that if you start a business, you automatically know how to grow it and manage it. In reality, most people don’t have a clue and they end up failing. The book walks you through the steps in the life of a business, how to hire the right people and build a strong foundation, and explains the distinction between working on your business and working in your business.
2. “The Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup” by Noam Wasserman
A must-read if you are considering founding a company, particularly one in life sciences and technology. Wasserman examines the early decisions by founders that can make or break a startup and its team. He breaks down startup pitfalls such as: Do you have the capital? If not, where will it come from? Do you go solo or bring on co-founders? If you opt for co-founders, whom do you choose? The author highlights the importance of making smart decisions regarding relationships, roles and rewards. He also challenges founders to figure out whether they are motivated by wealth or control, and to make choices accordingly.
3. “Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future” by Peter Thiel
Author and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel explains every startup must start small before getting big, and that breakthrough businesses can and should be built. A true breakthrough business doesn’t just do what someone else already knows how to do and add more of something familiar, going from 0 to n. Instead, when a breakthrough business does something entirely new, they go from 0 to 1; that’s the “zero to one” that an entrepreneur should pursue. Because the business will be unique, they will escape competition altogether. An inspiring and optimistic read.
4. “The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses” by Eric Ries
Drawing from personal experience gained from his failed startups, Eric Ries created The Lean Startup. The Lean Startup is a method that builds capital-efficient companies by allowing startups to recognize when it’s time to change direction sooner, which in turn wastes less of the company’s time and money. It also leverages human creativity more effectively, enables a company to shift directions with agility, and gives a way to test their vision continuously, and to adapt and adjust before it’s too late. The author provides a scientific approach to creating and managing successful startups.
5. “Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time” by Jeff Sutherland
Working on the notion that people are spectacularly bad at doing things quickly and efficiently, Sutherland began using his vast range of experiences to challenge those dysfunctional realities, and looking for solutions that would have global impact. Full of alluring storytelling and lot of great data, this is a must-read.
Did we miss any good ones? Let us know! Post a message of your favorite business book to our Facebook wall or find us on Twitter @gbcoworking, or better yet, stop in and show us what you’re reading!