By Kristopher B. Jones of Special Guest App
I believe that entrepreneurship is one of the highest and hardest callings. Ask successful CEOs or company presidents, and many of them will probably tell you that the recipe to their success lies in reading -; a lot. In fact, most CEOs read four to five books per month. That’s 48 or more books each year.
If you're trying to start a successful business, then it can pay to learn about the strategies that led other business leaders to success. In my life, I’ve used books to help guide business decisions and establish a framework for time management and day-to-day planning. Reading can provide you with not only the knowledge to broach a subject but also the critical thinking skills to resolve unexpected obstacles.
Here are my top five books on entrepreneurship. You may have seen most of them on other reading lists, which should speak to how much they've resonated with other entrepreneurs.
1. The Ultimate Sales Machine
The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes provides what I believe is the best framework for how to set up and enforce the policies of your business. Each principle that Holmes establishes, such as the "touch it once rule" and the idea of planning out each day, is designed to greatly improve your and your employees' efficiency.
Throughout the book, Holmes shares anecdotes that can help you cut waste and make your business leaner. His emphasis on planning, processes and policy can serve as the framework for creating lean processes that improve the efficiency of each individual department. I've used this book to constantly educate my employees, improve our planning skills and become more efficient as an organization.
2. Awaken the Giant Within
For prospective or new entrepreneurs, I believe any Tony Robbins material is a must read. What Robbins gets to at the core of his message is always the "why" of decision making. Awaken the Giant Within takes this theme and expands upon it. Robbins believes that how you arrive at decisions in life is the most important part of your identity and mode of consciousness. He also offers advice about thinking long term versus short term: "Often, what seems impossible in the short term becomes very possible in the long term if you persist."
Consider teaching this mentality and Robbins' system for time management to your staff to improve efficiency. His principles not only can make your organization leaner, but they also can make you and your staff feel more satisfied.
3. Measure What Matters
John Doerr became a world-famous venture capitalist after helping Google become one of the most successful and disruptive businesses in history. In Measure What Matters, Doerr discusses the system of objectives and key results (OKRs) that he brought to Google and so many other Silicon Valley companies. OKRs are five to six organizational goals that are discussed and tracked each quarter.
Each of my companies employs this system to help track and reach certain goals related to improving revenue, culture and efficiency. I find that this system helps promote accountability and transparency. If you try this method, remember that OKRs should be discussed and formulated with all team members present.
4. The Lean Startup
I believe that reading The Lean Startup by Eric Ries is a must for all small business and startup owners. Ries provides a tutorial for how startups can maximize the potential of their business plan and get products in the hands of their customers quicker.
Leveraging Ries’s methodology for accelerating startups has significantly helped me in all of my technology-based business ventures. I highly recommend it for anyone seeking a plan for how to proceed with a product or idea.
5. How to Win Friends and Influence People
If you’re looking to master the sales process, then I believe Dale Carnegie has you covered in How to Win Friends and Influence People. According to him, the key to business success is building relationships. Relationships lead to partnerships, referrals and residual business opportunities that can provide steady revenue.
Carnegie offers a step-by-step guide for how to make people like you more, how to inspire people with your ideas and how to be a leader and influence people’s decisions. The key to all of it comes down to great listening skills, empathy and playing off of people’s inherent biases.
These are just five outstanding books that can help you improve your business. There are hundreds of other books out there, and after reading these five, you might be hungry to learn more.
Kristopher B. Jones is a serial entrepreneur and investor. Kris recently launched Special Guest App with comedian / actor Damon Wayans, Jr.