It's no surprise that the most successful entrepreneurs are huge readers. Warren Buffett has claimed he spends the majority of his time at work reading, and Bill Gates strives to read a book a week. Mark Zuckerberg even has his own online book club. In the Information Age, those people who are the most serious about devouring information are those with the greatest shot of making it big.
But for small-business owners who haven't yet reached the top five of the Fortune 500, it can be challenging to figure out what to read. With limited time and nearly unlimited choices, entrepreneurs often fall back on the business books that everyone else seems to be talking about.
There is certainly plenty to be learned from the giants of the business genre. The E-Myth Revisited goes a long way in opening your eyes to the importance of "working in your business, not on it." And for those of you who find yourselves regularly alienating partners, employees, and vendors with your exacting standards, How to Win Friends and Influence People can be life changing. At the same time, there's a good chance many of your colleagues and competitors are reading the same books as you are, which necessarily restricts your ability to gain an edge through your reading.
As in so many areas, super-successful people have a tactic for overcoming this dilemma. They diversify.
Many creativity researchers agree that innovation is all about making connections between disparate ideas in order to form new solutions. The most successful among us know this instinctively. It is the reason Zuckerberg's list includes Dealing With China by Henry M. Paulson, Jr., along with books on technology. It's why the founder of Microsoft returns time and again to The Catcher in the Rye as well as Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales From the World of Wall Street.
When it comes to your own reading, it's a given that you should always make sure your knowledge is current in your industry and that you have made a study of business in general. Yet it's incumbent on you to go past this bare minimum if your goal is overwhelming success. Pursue subjects that simply interest you. Whether it's science and technology, philosophy, politics, or literature, devouring books on these topics as religiously as you would the latest entries on the business bestseller lists will give you the raw material for your most groundbreaking ideas.