Books

These are the books I would recommend to entrepreneurs, from the greenest novice to the most seasoned veteran. It's impossible to fully digest their wisdom in one sitting, so please work your way through each book a little at a time. It's equally difficult to narrow my list down to ten, but ten seems like a good number to keep up the pressure for excellence. I'll revise the list as I discover new ones and you pass along suggestions.

You will of course notice not every title concerns itself with business management. Some advocate behavioral change to achieve maximum efficiency, and others deal solely in financial management. The idea is to encourage us all to be as effective in our professional development as we are in our personal affairs.

In no particular order, here they are:

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Growing a Business

Simon & Schuster
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Paul Hawken demonstrates that the answers to small business problems today cannot be solved by college degrees, training or money—but only by you.

Nearly everyone harbors a secret dream of starting or owning a business. In fact, a million businesses start in the United States every year. Many of them fail, but enough succeed so that small businesses are now adding millions of jobs to the economy at the same time that the Fortune 500 companies are actually losing jobs.

Paul Hawken—entrepreneur and bestselling author—wrote Growing a Business for those who set out to make their dream a reality. He knows what he's talking about; he is his own best example of success. In the early 1970s, while he was still in his twenties, he founded Erewhon, the largest distributor of natural foods. More recently, he founded and still runs Smith & Hawken, the premier mail-order garden tool company. And he wrote a critically acclaimed book called The Next Economy about the future of the economy.

Using examples like Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream, and University National Bank of Palo Alto, California, Hawken shows that the successful business is an expression of an individual person. The most successful business, your idea for a business, will grow from something that is deep within you, something that can't be stolen by anyone because it is so uniquely yours that anyone else who tried to execute your idea would fail. He dispels the myth of the risk-taking entrepreneur. The purpose of business, he points out, is not to take risks but rather to get something done.
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The Innovator's Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change the Way You Do Business

HarperBusiness
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“Absolutely brilliant. Clayton Christensen provides an insightful analysis of changing technology and its importance to a company’s future success.”
—Michael R. Bloomberg

“This book ought to chill any executive who feels bulletproof —and inspire entrepreneurs aiming their guns.”
Forbes

The Innovator’s Dilemma is the revolutionary business book that has forever changed corporate America. Based on a truly radical idea—that great companies can fail precisely because they do everything right—this Wall Street Journal, Business Week and New York Times Business bestseller is one of the most provocative and important business books ever written. Entrepreneurs, managers, and CEOs ignore its wisdom and its warnings at their great peril.

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Cold Calling Techniques (That Really Work!)

Adams Media
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The definitive guide to cold calling success!


For more than thirty years, Stephan Schiffman, America's #1 corporate sales trainer, has shown millions of salespeople how to close a deal. In this newest edition of Cold Calling Techniques (That Really Work!), he'll show you why cold calling is still a central element of the sales cycle and where to find the best leads. Updated with new information on e-mail selling, refining voice-mail messages, and online networking, his time-tested advice includes valuable discussion points that you'll need to cover in order to effectively present your product or service and arrange a meeting. Schiffman teaches you how to use his proven strategies to:
  • Turn leads into prospects
  • Learn more about the client's needs
  • Convey the ability to meet the client's demands
  • Overcome common objections
With Cold Calling Techniques (That Really Work!), 7th Edition, you'll watch your performance soar as you beat the competition and score a meeting every time!
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Rework

Crown Business
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Most business books give you the same old advice: Write a business plan, study the competition, seek investors, yadda yadda. If you're looking for a book like that, put this one back on the shelf.

Rework shows you a better, faster, easier way to succeed in business. Read it and you'll know why plans are actually harmful, why you don't need outside investors, and why you're better off ignoring the competition. The truth is, you need less than you think. You don't need to be a workaholic. You don't need to staff up. You don't need to waste time on paperwork or meetings. You don't even need an office. Those are all just excuses. 

What you really need to do is stop talking and start working. This book shows you the way. You'll learn how to be more productive, how to get exposure without breaking the bank, and tons more counterintuitive ideas that will inspire and provoke you.

With its straightforward language and easy-is-better approach, Rework is the perfect playbook for anyone who’s ever dreamed of doing it on their own. Hardcore entrepreneurs, small-business owners, people stuck in day jobs they hate, victims of "downsizing," and artists who don’t want to starve anymore will all find valuable guidance in these pages.
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Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don't

HarperBusiness
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The Challenge:
Built to Last, the defining management study of the nineties, showed how great companies triumph over time and how long-term sustained performance can be engineered into the DNA of an enterprise from the verybeginning.

But what about the company that is not born with great DNA? How can good companies, mediocre companies, even bad companies achieve enduring greatness?

The Study:
For years, this question preyed on the mind of Jim Collins. Are there companies that defy gravity and convert long-term mediocrity or worse into long-term superiority? And if so, what are the universal distinguishing characteristics that cause a company to go from good to great?

The Standards:
Using tough benchmarks, Collins and his research team identified a set of elite companies that made the leap to great results and sustained those results for at least fifteen years. How great? After the leap, the good-to-great companies generated cumulative stock returns that beat the general stock market by an average of seven times in fifteen years, better than twice the results delivered by a composite index of the world's greatest companies, including Coca-Cola, Intel, General Electric, and Merck.

The Comparisons:
The research team contrasted the good-to-great companies with a carefully selected set of comparison companies that failed to make the leap from good to great. What was different? Why did one set of companies become truly great performers while the other set remained only good?

Over five years, the team analyzed the histories of all twenty-eight companies in the study. After sifting through mountains of data and thousands of pages of interviews, Collins and his crew discovered the key determinants of greatness -- why some companies make the leap and others don't.

The Findings:
The findings of the Good to Great study will surprise many readers and shed light on virtually every area of management strategy and practice. The findings include:

  • Level 5 Leaders: The research team was shocked to discover the type of leadership required to achieve greatness.
  • The Hedgehog Concept: (Simplicity within the Three Circles): To go from good to great requires transcending the curse of competence.
  • A Culture of Discipline: When you combine a culture of discipline with an ethic of entrepreneurship, you get the magical alchemy of great results. Technology Accelerators: Good-to-great companies think differently about the role of technology.
  • The Flywheel and the Doom Loop: Those who launch radical change programs and wrenching restructurings will almost certainly fail to make the leap.

“Some of the key concepts discerned in the study,” comments Jim Collins, "fly in the face of our modern business culture and will, quite frankly, upset some people.”

Perhaps, but who can afford to ignore these findings?

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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

Simon & Schuster
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This twenty-fifth anniversary edition of Stephen Covey’s cherished classic commemorates the timeless wisdom of the 7 Habits.

One of the most inspiring and impactful books ever written, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has captivated readers for 25 years. It has transformed the lives of Presidents and CEOs, educators and parents— in short, millions of people of all ages and occupations.
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How to Win Friends & Influence People

Pocket Books
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For more than sixty years the rock-solid, time-tested advice in this book has carried thousands of now famous people up the ladder of success in their business and personal lives.

Now this previously revised and updated bestseller is available in trade paperback for the first time to help you achieve your maximum potential throughout the next century! Learn:

* Three fundamental techniques in handling people

* The six ways to make people like you

* The twelve ways to win people to you way of thinking

* The nine ways to change people without arousing resentment

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Think and Grow Rich: The Landmark Bestseller - Now Revised and Updated for the 21st Century

TarcherPerigee
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Please note that this item is a roughcut (deckle edge) edition

Think and Grow Rich
has been called the "Granddaddy of All Motivational Literature." It was the first book to boldly ask, "What makes a winner?" The man who asked and listened for the answer, Napoleon Hill, is now counted in the top ranks of the world's winners himself.

The most famous of all teachers of success spent "a fortune and the better part of a lifetime of effort" to produce the "Law of Success" philosophy that forms the basis of his books and that is so powerfully summarized in this one.

In the original Think and Grow Rich, published in 1937, Hill draws on stories of Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and other millionaires of his generation to illustrate his principles. In the updated version, Arthur R. Pell, Ph.D., a nationally known author, lecturer, and consultant in human resources management and an expert in applying Hill's thought, deftly interweaves anecdotes of how contemporary millionaires and billionaires, such as Bill Gates, Mary Kay Ash, Dave Thomas, and Sir John Templeton, achieved their wealth. Outmoded or arcane terminology and examples are faithfully refreshed to preclude any stumbling blocks to a new generation of readers.

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The Bogleheads' Guide to Investing

Wiley
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The irreverent guide to investing, Boglehead style

The Boglehead's Guide to Investing is a DIY handbook that espouses the sage investment wisdom of John C. Bogle. This witty and wonderful book offers contrarian advice that provides the first step on the road to investment success, illustrating how relying on typical "common sense" promoted by Wall Street is destined to leave you poorer. This updated edition includes new information on backdoor Roth IRAs and ETFs as mainstream buy and hold investments, estate taxes and gifting, plus changes to the laws regarding Traditional and Roth IRAs, and 401k and 403b retirement plans. With warnings and principles both precisely accurate and grandly counterintuitive, the Boglehead authors show how beating the market is a zero-sum game.

Investing can be simple, but it's certainly not simplistic. Over the course of twenty years, the followers of John C. Bogle have evolved from a loose association of investors to a major force with the largest and most active non-commercial financial forum on the Internet. The Boglehead's Guide to Investing brings that communication to you with comprehensive guidance to the investment prowess on display at Bogleheads.org. You'll learn how to craft your own investment strategy using the Bogle-proven methods that have worked for thousands of investors, and how to:

  • Choose a sound financial lifestyle and diversify your portfolio
  • Start early, invest regularly, and know what you're buying
  • Preserve your buying power, keeping costs and taxes low
  • Throw out the "good" advice promoted by Wall Street that leads to investment failure

Financial markets are essentially closed systems in which one's gain garners another's loss. Investors looking for a roadmap to successfully navigating these choppy waters long-term will find expert guidance, sound advice, and a little irreverent humor in The Boglehead's Guide to Investing.

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The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America's Wealthy

Taylor Trade Publishing
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The bestselling The Millionaire Next Door identifies seven common traits that show up again and again among those who have accumulated wealth. Most of the truly wealthy in this country don't live in Beverly Hills or on Park Avenue-they live next door. This new edition, the first since 1998, includes a new foreword for the twenty-first century by Dr. Thomas J. Stanley.
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