With summer, schedules seem to lighten and you have more time to relax. You could fill that time with more work, but that path only leads to stress and burnout. Instead, I suggest that you use the time to enhance your business skills so that you come back primed at the end of the summer raring to go.
In speaking with a lot of entrepreneurs, a common thread I've found lacking is a fundamental understanding of finance as it relates to the stock market. This is actually quite detrimental when attempting to start a business -- especially with the goal of an IPO. To create an investable company, there is invaluable knowledge in studying the mistakes and successes of the past.
To that end, here is my personal book list to give you a crash course in all things Wall Street.
1. Confessions of a Wall Street Analyst by Daniel Reingold
Long before cell phones were commonplace and the "internet" existed, we had to make do with calling people on land-line telephones for information. From the 1980's through early 2000's, local and long-distance telephone providers were frantically trying to gain any foothold they could to service their customers. This book goes deep into explaining how Wall Street was blindsided by the shift, but also how stock prices are set.
For anyone dreaming of an eventual IPO, or wanting to invest in one, this is a must read, and my personal favorite. I especially loved his reflections on how personal ethics can clash with shifting business trends.
2. House of Debt: How They (and You) Caused the Great Recession, and How We Can Prevent It From Happening Again by Atif Mian and Amir Sufi
In 2008, we had one of the more dramatic global recessions in the past 50 years. While previously attributed to easy financing for houses, this book lays out the convincing case that it was the $14 trillion in overall household debt.
In other words, the advent of a cashless society. Now, with a similar level of debt looming in student loans, and even more options to pay without cash, this book is increasingly relevant.
Remember-- "easy" may not be the best way.
3. A Colossal Failure of Common Sense by Larry McDonald
Have you ever been in a job where you knew something was wrong and you couldn't do anything about it? In this book, a stockbroker at Lehman Brothers takes us through the years prior to the recession, explaining how he saw the cracks coming and was powerless to stop it -- until it eventually came crumbling down around the world.
My biggest takeaway from this book is that if you can't be transparent with your employees, they'll still sense that something is wrong.
4. Irrational Exuberance by Robert J. Shiller
This book is probably the best explanation of how "bubbles" in the market work -- from tech stocks to housing, to bitcoin. It goes into detail about how people can create a poor analysis using data they want to see -- using hope or bias as their model.
This is an important book for people looking to invest in companies based on gut feeling -- rather than real results.
5. A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton Malkiel
Whether it is a business, the stock market, or a sports team, when we are emotionally attached to something, we tend to stick with things out of loyalty -- longer than common sense.
In this book, you'll learn that as an individual investor, you are better off throwing darts blindfolded at random than trying to do research and pick specific things.
6. Phishing for Phools by George Akerlof and Robert J. Shiller
The fundamental premise of any company is to sell something to someone. Therefore, at some level, that company is always actively marketing the business to someone else. This book touches on the types of manipulation and tactics companies use to get us to buy-in, even when we don't realize we are doing it.
This book is extremely important for any entrepreneur -- especially if you are unfamiliar with these types of manipulation tactics.
7. Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman
Every business is in the business to make money -- especially one that eventually wants to gain an IPO. Most people have no plan on how to gain customers or even really what that means in relation to their business.
In this book, you'll learn how to gain that all important traction. Wickman's framework for how to create actionable growth is something I believe everyone should use.
8. Valley of Genius: The Uncensored History of Silicon Valley by Adam Fisher
Whenever you are creating a business, it is important to go back to the start of the "dream". A lot of people look to Silicon Valley as the land of opportunity and idealism, but one theme that underlies this book is everyone was there to run a business and make money -- lots of it.
For entrepreneurs, this is probably the most important lesson of all: while it's great to have an idea, if it doesn't have a path to financial gain, it isn't worth your time. I can't recommend this book enough.