Sunday, August 2, 2009

Four books you must read before starting your own business

If you are thinking about starting your own business, the hardest part is probably the very start. There is a wealth of information out there on a wide range of topics that business owners must know. Rather than guessing where to start, I have made this list of books that will give you a basic starting point with essential principles and concepts. After you read these books, you will know what needs to be done next.

1. The E-Myth Revisited

This book is an essential starting point for anybody considering starting their own business. The author explains to Susie, somebody who has already started their business, why her results have not been what she expected. A wide range of topics are explained very well from lessons in franchising all the way to the mindset a business owner must have.
By the end of this book, you will have a much clearer idea of what you need to do, and more importantly, how you must think.

2. MBA in a day

For those who don’t want to spend 3+ years studying business at university, this book is a way to gain a basic understanding of the principles and concepts that would have been taught. By no way am I saying that this book compares with three years of study, but it does give a good summary of the topics. Everything from accounting and finance to marketing and strategy is discussed.
After reading this book you will have a very basic understanding of all the topics you will need to understand to successfully run a business. From there you can find more books or even short courses on the specific subjects you want to learn. It is important to be aware of what you need to learn and why you should learn it. This book does a good job in increasing your awareness in business subjects.

3. How to win friends and influence people

No matter what type of business you plan to start, you will be involved with people. Even if you are starting an internet only business, your customer service and networking skills will determine your success or failure. This book teaches essential people skills that everybody in business must recognize and apply. Ever walked out of a store disgusted by the lack of customer service and decided never to go back? Well if you don’t have first class people skills, there is the chance that people will react that way to your business.
This book will teach you everything from improving customer (or supplier) relationships to handling conflicts and arguments. Applying the principles in this book is an easy and effective way to improve your business’ reputation.

4. Getting to YES (Negotiating agreement without giving in)

Like this book states “like it or not, you are a negotiator”. Regardless of your business, eventually you will need to negotiate with somebody. How you handle that negotiation (and all future negotiations) will have a huge impact of your business’ performance. Whether you are hiring somebody and negotiating their pay and benefits, or negotiating with your suppliers, having an understanding of negotiating and how to effectively do it is essential. This book is most effective to protect you from people who will try to take advantage of you or use dirty tactics. The small cost of this book outweighs the raw deals and manipulation you could have encountered had you not read it.
This book will introduce you to what negotiating is and what it is not. Most people don’t really understand negotiating to begin with so reading this book will already put you at an advantage. With starting businesses, the more advantages you can get, the more likely you will be successful. Even if you think you are a good negotiator, you can always improve. Grasp hold of any advantage you can get your hands on. A solid understanding of negotiating is a clear advantage.

I have chosen these books because they are topics that many people would neglect or completely overlook. The main lesson is that the right frame of mind is essential for success. Topics such as accounting or marketing are easy to learn, so after you read these books you can continue to study them as you like. On the other hand, developing the mindset capable of running a successful company is so important, yet many people don’t even consider learning how to do it.