By Carolyn M. Brown Posted 6/18/15 –Blackenterprise.com
Reading is fundamental, that’s an old-school mantra that applies to existing business owners and those just starting out. Learning about business is an never-ending process. Books should be used as part of that learning. Having a successful business is about the actions you take. You need to know the how, what, and when of building a business–delivering a viable product or service, managing employees, growing a customer base, and bettering yourself.
What book helped shape your business and you, personally, as a CEO? This is the question BlackEnterprise.com posed to members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization, comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free, virtual-mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
These are the books that are at the top of their reading list:
1. The One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard. This book helped me completely rethink my management style, especially with remote workers. All the principles that the author describes are critical for successfully running a remote company: encouraging employees to think on their own, refraining from micromanaging, giving praise and quickly correcting problems. Everyone should read this book, and then work on fixing their own managerial style.
– Dave Nevogt, Hubstaff.com
2. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. This book is not about tactics for tricking people into liking you; it’s about understanding how to be a better person, listener, and communicator. This book was recommended by my brother, and it’s taught me to be more amenable, patient, and empathetic. I’ve learned how to communicate more efficiently and more effectively, while being a more pleasant person. It’s integral for success in business.
– Andrew Thomas, SkyBell Video Doorbell
3. Choose Yourself by James Altucher. In Choose Yourself, James teaches entrepreneurs how to build a successful business in a world where all industries have been disrupted and the only constant is change. The book made me realize that the middlemen are being pushed out of the picture. New digital tools and platforms have emerged to make it possible for everyone to create content and make millions of dollars without “help.”
– Matthew Capala, SearchDecoder
4. The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz. A must-read for any startup entrepreneur, The Hard Thing About Hard Things scrupulously describes how to lead teams through obstacles. The book offers plenty of practical advice like the importance of sharing bad news with your teammates, and encouraging teammates to share bad news with you in order to improve. The collection of candid anecdotes from the author is valuable to any CEO.
– Nanxi Liu, Enplug
5. The Geography of Thought by Richard E. Nisbett. While this book focuses on how Asians and Westerners think differently (and why), its implications are much wider. All business is now global. Understanding how people in other cultures make decisions and think, is critical to success. In running my own international business, I have referenced this book time and time again. I recommend it for anyone trying to understand how to work better with others.
– Patrick Linton, Bolton Remote
6. Traction by Gino Wickman. This book truly helps entrepreneurs change their perspectives, and pushes them to get over the many obstacles that a business will throw at them. Traction makes strengthening your business understandable and achievable with six digestible, to-the-point tips that apply to any industry. Wickman leads business leaders to a more open mind while, simultaneously, focusing them in on what’s truly important.
– Miles Jennings, Recruiter.com
7. The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss. This book really helped me ask myself the question, “How can I best use my time for maximum output?” It goes against the traditional thinking that you’ve got to work more hours to produce more results. Instead, focus on working smarter, not necessarily harder. You’ll also think about areas of your business that need to outsourced, thus freeing up your life and helping you focus on your strengths.
– Alex Miller, PosiRank LLC
8. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. This book changed my perception of building full products, which I believed was by creating features and then testing to see if people wanted the product. That’s very costly and offers no real lessons if they don’t use it. The Lean Startup forced me to challenge all of my assumptions, release versions of products before they’re ready (and feel a bit embarrassed by how bare the product is), and let users dictate the product. It was revolutionary.
– Kofi Kankam, Admit.me
9. Screw Business As Usual By Richard Branson. This book helped provide perspectives on how to think outside of the box, and to let go of many of the conventional ways that businesses and individuals function. Aside from a personal profit and gain, your business should also benefit society, communities, and the planet. You’ll notice that in doing so, your business will be fueled from multiple avenues of good.
– Hesam Meshkat, Guzu
10. Good to Great by Jim Collins. This book takes a scientific approach to what makes companies boom. Through analysis they create a model for this type of success; while it focuses on corporate businesses, the lessons apply to all organizations. The type of leadership, the culture you are able to create and the relentless focus necessary to be great, apply specifically to young startups getting the right people on the bus as they grow.
– Anthony Scherba, Yeti
11. Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. As young entrepreneurs we often take on many roles, willing our companies to greater heights with this belief that we must get it done on our own. Keith Ferrazzi’s Never Eat Alone teaches you otherwise, and reminds us that business is human. Therefore, we must work to nurture relationships and provide value to our network. I now always ask myself, “how can I provide value to others?”
– Zachary Burkes, Gatekeeper Innovation Inc.
12. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. I’ve read hundreds of books on business; however, the one book that has had the greatest impact on my life is Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. This book single-handedly influenced me to step out and begin my career as an entrepreneur. Robert does an amazing job, showing his readers the different psychologies adapted by his father (Poor Dad) and mentor (Rich Dad). I highly recommend this book!
– Dustin Cucciarre, BryghtAds Inc.
13. Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers by Geoffrey Moore. This book on market leadership, provides entrepreneurs with practical advice on marketing a high-tech product. It helps you realize that you usually can’t win by going broad, and the path to market leadership is systematically conquering important smaller markets, while building an ecosystem around your product. He even provides a checklist on how to do this. It’s a must-read.
– Costin Tuculescu, AnyMeeting
14. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Atlas Shrugged is not a how-to business book, but rather a story of what it really takes to run a business on a personal level — relentlessness, passion, and determination. It is the tale of those who eat, sleep, and breathe for their cause, and who move mountains to make their visions come to life. If you read it and hate it, you don’t have what it takes to be an entrepreneur.
– Vanessa Nornberg, Metal Mafia