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Entrepreneurs

More books every entrepreneur should read

Ronen Menipaz

Ronen Menipaz

15.09.2020

Long ago, I read that 88% of wealthy, successful people spend at least 30 minutes each day reading to expand their knowledge. In addition, 85% read two or more books per month on an ongoing basis.

For every entrepreneur, reading is the easiest habit to incorporate into daily decisions. I’d argue it’s the easiest way to convert what you learn into actionable information and reach your goals. In one of my previous posts, I’ve listed a select few books every entrepreneur should read, and thanks to the feedback I’ve got (and the fact that there are hundreds of great books out there), here are some more books that can open new ways of thinking, help make a push through adversity, and show how to become a successful entrepreneur. They certainly did for me. 

In no particular order:

The Art of War by Sun Tzu

The Art of War by Sun Tzu

What’s it about:

An ancient book on military strategy may not look like entrepreneur-worthy material at first, but ‘The Art of War’ is one of the best books ever written on a subject literally every entrepreneur must conquer, in a way – strategic thinking. 

Its teachings have been widely adopted for use in everyday life, including business in terms of competitiveness and leadership. It’s an infinitely quotable book that packs so much wisdom into approachable insights.

How it influenced me:

The writings of Sun Tzu have stood the test of time precisely because he seemingly has an answer for everything. Until I read this book, I never realized that winning over customers holds many similar challenges and ideas as an army trying to conquer a territory. 

As entrepreneurs, we must wage many little wars on a daily basis. ‘The Art of War’ contains information that I found useful at every stage in my entrepreneurial life, especially relevant to management techniques and thinking differently about the world, not just business.

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

What’s it about:

Often referenced as the ultimate “parenting bible”, ‘How to Talk’ includes insights, suggestions, and tested methods to solve common problems and lay foundations for lasting relationships with the little ones.

Not every entrepreneur is a parent by default so some of the appeal may be lost. However, if you have children, this book will surface issues you didn’t know you have deeply rooted in communication and listening. 

How it influenced me:

In the entrepreneurial sense, I learned how to talk by listening first to myself and then others. I become empowered to acknowledge the emotions that both kids and, subsequently, employees often cannot properly articulate. 

The core theme here is mindfulness – uncovering constructive ways to respond, especially to negative actions and thoughts. By doing so, I improved myself as a leader and fine-tuned my work-life balance.

Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne

Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne

What’s it about:

A classic of strategic planning, ‘Blue Ocean Strategy’ outlines the need for every organization to identify and develop “blue oceans” (uncontested, growing markets) and avoid their red counterparts (saturated, overdeveloped markets).

It’s a thought-provoking book that challenges you to take a new approach. Instead of outperforming the competition, the focus should be to redefine industry boundaries and operate within a new space, ultimately making your competitors irrelevant.

How it influenced me:

I’m a sucker for deep analysis and Kim and Mauborgne have excelled in that regard. More importantly, they showed me how the pursuit of differentiation and low cost to open up a new market space creates new or greater value for customers. In fact, the book itself differentiates from other business strategy books due to its approach. 

It’s about finding your niche within a niche and embracing the entire system of your company’s activities so it can stay competitive and grow. In times when many businesses and startups fail without ever taking off, it’s an essential read. 

The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen

The Innovator's Dilemma by Clayton Christensen

What’s it about:

Sometimes, a company can make all the right moves and still fail to assert its leadership or simply fail altogether. Through lessons of successes and failures from leading companies, Christensen clearly and analytically introduces a theory of “disruptive innovation” that shines a new light on business management. 

Basically, the entire book is a huge argument for why a company should be a leader in disruptive innovation vs sustainable innovation, with a deep look into why even then some fail in the face of disruptive change. 

How it influenced me:

It changed the way I perceive innovation. I realized how business can be paradoxical in that the very same practices that lead to success in the first place can also result in failure. For a person dealing a lot with technology, this was (and continues to be) especially relevant for me.

The book has a neat way of shedding light on some advantages that you perhaps see but haven’t fully identified them, then providing guidance on how you might better exploit them. The broad exploration of disruptive innovation is highly insightful, replete with strong evidence that resonates to this day (the book was first published in 1997). For entrepreneurs seeking to transform existing markets, reading this is a no-brainer. 

Mean People Suck: How Empathy Leads to Bigger Profits and a Better Life by Michael Brenner

Mean People Suck: How Empathy Leads to Bigger Profits and a Better Life by Michael Brenner

What’s it about:

Empathy – or lack of it. Brenner does an outstanding job illustrating why empathy is a crucial factor in leadership and life. He provides a pinpoint diagnosis of why companies often fail to serve their employees (or even customers) well, and how using empathy in every aspect of business yields better results (both in terms of revenue and experience) than not using it.

How it influenced me:

In no small part thanks to this book, empathy plays a huge role in how I deal with people, regardless if they are employees, partners, or clients. It taught me how to actually step in someone else’s shoes, understand what makes them tick, why they make certain decisions, and what they need from you. 

As Brenner points out – we are not born with empathy so the value of the book is all that greater as it offers a blueprint for maximizing empathy to maximize happiness through research, statistical evidence, and case studies. All in all, ‘Mean People Suck’ is a comprehensive overview of the importance of empathy in all walks of business and life.

Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung

Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung

What’s it about:

Also known as ‘The Little Red Book’, this is a collection of statements from speeches and writings of the former Chairman of the Communist Party of China, relating to war, politics, economy, and so on. 

I’ll admit that as books worthy of an entrepreneur’s time go, this one is arguably low on the totem pole – if at all. However, if you forget the communist side of it, I find these short and coherent quotations to be really smart and motivating due to simple tactics behind them. After all, this is a man who galvanized a huge nation so this book offers a great insight into such high-level management.

How it influenced me:

For one thing, it helped me find inspiration and direction in situations like managing resources and people to working efficiently. It opens your mind to different ways of thinking, analyzing, and leading with interesting assumptions made throughout the book you can try to apply to your own circumstances. Mao had a knack for simplicity so his simplified interpretations of Marxism deserve a read, even if it’s a weird choice. 

Those would be my choices for must-read books for entrepreneurs. There’s always something new to learn so I hope these help and influence you to become a better entrepreneur the way they did for me.

Image credits:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10534.The_Art_of_War
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/769016.How_to_Talk_So_Kids_Will_Listen_Listen_So_Kids_Will_Talk
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4898.Blue_Ocean_Strategy
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2615.The_Innovator_s_Dilemma
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/51859738-mean-people-suck
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9751.Quotations_from_Chairman_Mao_Tse_Tung

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