The key to building a business is effective time management. As Bob Perkins recently wrote, “The most important lesson any entrepreneur can learn is to spend their time more carefully than they spend their money.” The last thing a busy entrepreneur wants to do is add another item—like reading a long business book—to their lengthy to-do list.
However, not taking time to sharpen the saw, as Steven Covey aptly puts it, has an incredible opportunity cost—particularly if competitors are updating their operations based on new ideas and tried-and-true management techniques.
With that said, based on my own entrepreneurial experience, here is a list of must-reads for every entrepreneur:
The Lean Startup
In The Lean Startup, Eric Ries teaches readers how to create, manage, and grow their companies using the “build-measure-learn” feedback loop and implementing continuous innovation. His methodology, which is inspired by lean manufacturing, provides a scientific approach to running a startup. I’ve personally used the methods taught in his book, including our work here at Small Business Nation, and would under no circumstance consider building a startup without some iteration of the principles Ries’ describes.
Crossing the Chasm
Geoffrey A. Moore wrote Crossing the Chasm in 1991 to explore the realities of high-tech marketing, but the book has become a must read for entrepreneurs in every industry.Crossing the Chasm is a startup classic that explores why being the first to market with the best product doesn’t automatically mean market dominance. Beating your competition requires maximum efficiency, which starts with correctly identifying a narrow target audience to engage. Moore does an excellent job of explaining exactly how to do this.
The Obstacle is the Way
Ryan Holiday didn’t write The Obstacle is the Way as a business book, but the principles he explores most certainly apply to every entrepreneur. It was inspired by the principles of stoicism; focusing on what can be controlled in situations and turning obstacles—every single one—into opportunities. In his book, Ryan Holiday showcases many successful people who applied stoicism to situations that seemed impossible to overcome. This is a must read for any entrepreneur who needs an inspirational pick-me-up and a guide of how to turn hardships into advantages, which is to say, any entrepreneur. Tim Ferriss, an insanely successful entrepreneur and startup investor, liked the book so much he bought rights to it and helped Holiday produce the audio version.
These are a few of the most influential books I’ve read, and each one has principles I’ve personally applied.
Do you have others? I’d love to hear from you and sharpen the saw myself.