There are literally thousands (if not millions) of business advice books on bookstore and library shelves at the moment, with more being published all the time. And every successful entrepreneur has advice for those who may be walking the same path. However, sometimes looking elsewhere (especially when it comes to your reading material) can be more valuable. Here are the top seven books for entrepreneurs.
Sometimes you need to trust your gut, in spite of all the other advice you may be getting. This is where listening to Hugh McLeod and William Dufris may come in handy; while much of the advice in this book is sarcastic, it's all very telling and provides a great reality check while still being supportive of creative types in general. The author provides strong ideas about what it takes to develop one's creativity and turn a good idea into a living without sacrificing your ideals or selling out.
A key quote: "You have to find your own shtick. A Picasso always looks like Picasso painted it. Hemingway always sounds like Hemingway. A Beethoven symphony always sounds like a Beethoven symphony. Part of being a master is learning how to sing in nobody else's voice but your own."
With wise advice that can apply to life across the board, words of wisdom couched in humor and science fiction can be inspiring. At the very least, it will remind you not to take everything too seriously, and the best piece of advice in the book - "don't panic" - might be the most precious takeaway of all. That said, the way this book recognizes the difference between the masses and individual human intelligence is also useful, as evidenced in the key quote below.
A key quote: "A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools."
While Gregory David Roberts (the author of this book) is indeed an entrepreneur (although in mostly illegal ways - which we don't recommend!), it's the philosophy encompassed in this book that makes it truly remarkable. The concepts of karma, following your destiny, and surrendering to luck can be important to keep in mind - especially during the rough patches and difficult days that happen for every business owner. An added bonus, it's a relatively true story, and for every very serious topic addressed, the writer adds a bit of humor and whimsy while reflecting on the human condition.
A key quote: "If fate doesn't make you laugh, then you don't get the joke."
While Hunter S. Thompson's unique style certainly isn't for everyone, his passion for his work and dedication to crafting the best prose possible is something that can motivate everyone, whether or not they share elements of Mr. Thompson's larger-than-life personality. His passion for perfection in the written word translates across the board, and will stimulate anyone's desire to improve, grow, and market their business.
A key quote: "Buy the ticket, take the ride."
5. The Prince
Niccolo Machiavelli's masterpiece has become a classic for good reason. The counsel that Machiavelli offers works for anyone involved in leadership in any way - and while the author has a reputation for being somewhat ruthless, upon closer reading, his words are actually quite balanced. With that said, he does lack a certain amount of sympathy - but then again, his classical "tough love" style can be a valuable mind-check for entrepreneurs. And the fact that his words have held up over the centuries - and the fact that he advised Prince Cesare Borgia, ruler during one of Italy's most tumultuous periods - strengthens the case that The Prince should be required reading for anyone who wants to run their own company.
A key quote: "Entrepreneurs are simply those who understand that there is little difference between obstacle and opportunity and are able to turn both to their advantage."
If you're not familiar with Sean Carter, the millionaire business mogul (as opposed to Jay-Z, the hip-hop artist), you may be surprised by his acumen and advice. It's relevant to a variety of situations, both business-related and personal. After all, dealing with a family, friends, and developing a global brand is certainly far from easy, and his straight talk about how he accomplished everything is encouraging. Getting outside out of your own mind and looking at the bigger picture is always helpful, and reading Decoded is a good way to jump-start your thoughts in that direction.
A key quote: "I believe you can speak things into existence."
Neuroscience and understanding how the brain works could be one of the key ways for you to set your business apart with regard to marketing techniques as well as the products and/or services you offer. Understanding your audience's intrinsic sense of self that goes far beyond a static entity or established mental pattern can help inform decisions and improve marketing tactics.
Understanding the way the brain works can be one of the most useful skills that an entrepreneur or business owner develops. Whether it's in regard to marketing, developing new products, introducing new services, or any other method of relating and selling to consumers (B2B or B2C), a basic background in psychology is valuable.
A key quote: "Happiness makes us - happy. It's our favorite state of mind. We might not be experts at finding it, but we know it when we see it. - and we'd like a map to the rest of it, please (We promise to share. Happy people are generous, too). "
Looking outside the typical business and marketing books and blogs for advice can lead to extraordinary insights that will set your company apart from the standard small businesses and other start-ups, as well as lending a new perspective.
What books do you recommend to your fellow entrepreneurs?