In this article I am going to share with you 5 books that every entrepreneur must read.
My name is Helen Roberts from I am an entrepreneur and started my first business 20 years ago and have gone on to build multiple successful businesses since. In the past 11 years I have worked with over 15000 people, people from all walks of life in every imaginable industry and I have helped them to start up and grow successful businesses`.
Every day I get asked for book recommendations from clients. I have so many; I have read thousands of books and have gained so much gold from them. It was only when I sat and really thought about it; I could come up with this shortlist of five that impacted me greatly on my journey as an entrepreneur. I would like to share them with you.
Book number 1: Become a key person of influence by Daniel Priestley
Up to this point I had not really thought about becoming a key person of influence and the difference it would make for me and my business. When I did, I set about becoming one and it dramatically changed my results.
Daniel talks about a 5-step sequence to becoming one of the most highly valued and highly paid people in your industry. If you are serious about starting or growing a business – this is vital.
Each industry has key people of influence. They are the go-to people, their names come up in searches and in conversation for the right reasons. They attract more opportunities and make more money. Key people of influence are not smarter, more experienced or likeable it comes down to the skills that make you an irreplaceable life force or vital in what you do.
The 5 skills that key people of influence focus on:
- Pitch – having a compelling answer for what they do. They can pitch their value / offer with confidence, clarity and credibility.
- Publish – key people of influence create great content: blogs, articles, books, videos, reports, podcasts, tools for getting their message out to the world.
- Product – key people of influence turn their skills, talents and ideas into products. Products that people want to buy and love and keep coming back for more making money anytime anywhere.
- Profile – raising their profile. Being good at what you do is not enough anymore. You need to stand out and be recognised.
- Partnerships – create opportunities with other great performers and create greater impact, faster together.
If you focus and work on these 5 p’s they will make a massive impact in your business. If you haven’t read the book; I would highly recommend that you do.
Book number 2: 4-hour work week by Tim Ferriss
Imagine working a 4-hour work week and achieving everything and more that you want in your business and in your life. When we start up a business; we tend to start it to create more time freedom, to make more money and to be able to do more of what we love. Often it does not quite work out that way, especially around our time. Instead we become a slave to the business, working more hours than ever before, often making less than we did when working for someone else and find we can’t focus on the things we want to do.
The 4-hour work week is a step by step blueprint to free yourself from the shackles of working crazy hours in your business and helping you to create a business that will fund the lifestyle of your dreams, and live life like a millionaire, without actually having to be one.
Tim says: Doing something unimportant well, does not make it important. This is true and I could not agree more. How often do you find yourself working on stuff that does not get you closer to where we want to be? Tim wrote this book to remove himself from being a slave to his business, to be able to do what he loves and that is, learning and travelling.
Here are three steps to help you to create and live a life on purpose:
Step 1: Be effective, not efficient
Most people measure productivity by the amount of time they work in their business. This is a bad indicator because we waste so much time working on stuff that does not matter.
Tim suggests you spend your time effectively on the 20% of things that will give you 80% of the results. This will make the biggest difference to your business. So instead of focusing on doing as much as you can, as best as you can, focus on less, focus on fewer things, on the things that will deliver the biggest difference to your business.
Step 2: Always validate your business ideas
Before you start building a product or service; make sure there is a demand for it and that people will be prepared to pay for it. Whatever your product or service is, you need to test it in the market and gain the validation you need. Do not just ask friends and family they will not want to hurt your feelings. Test out your product with a good sample group, reach into your target market and see if it will sell or if there is demand for it. Establish interest and understand if you are solving a big enough problem or challenge that is causing enough pain. If you are not; much as it will pain you to do so; go back to the drawing board and start again.
Step 3: Charge a premium so you need less clients and make your life easier
When you have tried and tested your product / service and know there is a market for it. The next big question people ask is; do I want to be high quality or the cheapest available? This is simple. You want and need to provide high quality this is essential in the current marketplace.
Let us imagine you want to make £5000 a month and are selling gin at £10.00 per bottle. You need to make 500 sales to create £5000 a month. That is a lot of sales to do every month!
If you were to sell that product for £50 a bottle you only need to make 100 sales and that makes it much easier for you. The most difficult part of sales is getting people from not giving you money; to giving you money. When they make a decision to buy; the amount of money they spend with you is negotiable. That is why you should aim for high quality and charge a premium. High paying clients or premium clients are low hassle and the best clients to have, creating a win, win. Whatever you are selling, promise high quality and make sure you deliver every time.
A business is the vehicle to help you to live the life that you want on your terms. If you can master your time this will make a quantum difference in your business and your life.
Book number 3: Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
I love Brene Brown and all of her books and to be truthful I found it difficult to choose the one that made the biggest difference for me. I chose Daring Greatly because it is a book about having the courage to be vulnerable in a world where everyone wants to appear strong, confident and like they know what they are doing. Brene says; be who you are and nothing more; that really resonated for me. To be authentic, to be real in a world where lots of people are trying to be someone else, live up to expectations of who they believe they are meant to be and failing in the process and becoming more and more unhappy, disconnected and swamped with feelings of not being enough along the way. Brene says: Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.
Daring Greatly is a New York times best seller written by Brene Brown a PHD, research & social worker and it focuses on courage, vulnerability and shame.
There are 3 key lessons in this book:
Vulnerability means strength not weakness
Understand and speak about your shame to make it go away
Be a role model for your children – children can only become who you are
Allowing yourself to be vulnerable is a sign of strength and courage. It is a lot easier to avoid the things that make you feel vulnerable than to lean into them and face them head on. It also means we are missing out on stuff if we do not face them.
For example: if you have ever loved someone, you know that being in love makes you feel vulnerable. You let someone into your heart and give them power and power to hurt you. Only if you accept this vulnerability do you have a shot at all the love joy and kindness you can experience from that relationship. Vulnerability is not just the source of pain and grief; it’s also the root or birthplace of many positive emotions.
What do you not do to avoid vulnerability? What are you missing out on because you are scared to lean in? Examples could be, speak at an event, go for a promotion, start a new relationship, start up a business, run a marathon, try a new sport. You don’t do it because you feel uncomfortable, scared of being ridiculed and fear of it not working out the way you want it to. Whereas if you leaned in and went for it; it could be an incredible source of feeling fulfilled, alive, tuned in, turned on. The more we have to work at something often fills us with the greatest feeling of achievement. We need to take life by the horns.
Lesson 2: Build a resilience to shame by understanding it and saying it out loud
What is worse than completely messing up an interview, tender you write, or relationship that you had? Being ashamed of not trying again. The quote goes; failure is temporary giving up is what makes it permanent. Shame is what makes you give up.
I am ashamed of my behaviour in a relationship. I am ashamed that my business went under.
I am ashamed that I didn’t help my sister, brother, aunt, Dad, friend when they needed it most. Have you thought any of these or similar? Pinpointing what makes you feel ashamed and saying it out loud takes a lot of the power from shame. Nobody wants to talk about it. It is uncomfortable. The less you talk about it, the more power it has over you. Talk about it, put it out there into the conversation and address it directly.
Lesson 3: Be a role model for your future/kids, it’s the only way they learn
Your children can only inherit qualities that you possess yourself. If you are messy your children will be messy. If you are organised, your children will be organised and if you are shame ridden; you will traumatise your kids by making them feel the same. Most childhood trauma comes from shame; being bullied, threatened or otherwise traumatised. Shame about an event or how you have been treated.
Live the values of honesty, courage and ambition. This will be the best thing you can do for your kids / loved ones. Brene Brown gave one of the most powerful talks ever on Ted. She shares her journey and struggles along the way and the realisation that when she discovered vulnerability it was at the core of living a great life.
Brene Brown is one of the most authentic, real people that I know. I would highly recommend you read her books to gain a deeper understanding of what is going on for you and to become authentically engaged in life and in business.
Book number 4: Solve for Happy by Mo Gawdat
This book is truly a gem. I have referred to it several times since my first reading and go back regularly to take the wisdom from it. It’s about engineering your path to joy written by Mo Gawdat the Chief business officer in Google X. Mo is an Engineer so he approaches the problem with an engineering methodology. Mo shares his incredible journey, a true story where his son Ali dies whilst undergoing a routine operation. This work is dedicated to his son Ali.
One of the first things Mo gets you to do is to create a happy list. We often think of happiness as big or elusive and in fact it is a collection of the small things, everyday things. Seeing friends, having chai/coffee, going for a run, reading a book, listening to the sea, meditating, being at one with nature. You cultivate happiness by being grateful. Stopping and taking inventory of things to be grateful for. Slow down, look at your life and be grateful. Journal about what you are grateful for. Be aware of that every single day.
Mo created a formula for being happy – the happiness equation.
The happiness equation is equal to or greater than the difference between the events of your life and your expectations of how life should behave.
I just love this formula and had not really thought about happiness like this before.
Mo says we are happy when our perception of events minus our expectation of how things should be; turns out to be a positive number. It is our thinking that makes us unhappy when we are expecting something to be better than it seems according to our perceptions. The point is that it is our thoughts that make us suffer, therefore it’s our thoughts that we need to address.
Happiness is a choice; it is a conscious choice.
We can persecute ourselves by thinking about the past and beating ourselves with a stick because something didn’t work out the way that we wanted/ expected / planned.
A business, relationship, race, tennis match, health matter; whatever it is. We get stuck focusing on this which sends our brain in to this negative looping activity where that is all we focus on, so we suffer over and over. Instead we need to draw a line under it. What happened yesterday, last year, 10 years ago and even one minute ago is history; we cannot change it. We also obsess with the future on what that looks like. We worry about not creating what we want; not having enough money, not getting married, not being able to have kids, complaining there is never enough time and will run out, not being able to grow a business, being in a recession, ill-health, loved one’s ill health. We go into this looping activity where all our mental energy is being consumed by negativity; stuff that probably won’t even happen. It’s not about what happened to me; it’s about how I see things. The meaning I take from events this is the real gold.
What we can control is our thought. We can choose the thoughts we think. We need to stay in the present and focus on what we can control; the thoughts that we think. Our default state is happiness. We are born that way. All we need to do is to consciously choose our thoughts and subtract suffering.
Mo says true joy is to be in harmony with life exactly as it is. Here’s to making the most of now and finding the sunshine in every day!
Book number 5: 7 Habits of highly effective people by Stephen Covey
I read this book a long time ago now and continue to see Stephen’s teachings across many other courses, programmes and books I read today.
Stephen came up with 7 fundamental habits to cultivate highly effective people.
He says “what we are, says far more, than what we say or do”.
He argues that it is your character that needs to be cultivated to achieve sustainable success not your personality! These habits are composed of the habits that your character principally needs to be happy and successful. The habits in this book move you from dependence to independence.
Habit 1: Be Proactive
This is a fundamental principle. To be an effective person is to be proactive. Take the initiative and take responsibility for your life and everything that happens in it. Don’t blame your behaviour on external factors such as circumstances but own it as part of a conscious choice based on your values. Where reactive people are driven by feelings; proactive people are driven by values.
Stick to the commitments you make to yourself. Commitment to self-improvement and personal growth. Set small goals and stick to them, honour your word, you will gradually increase your integrity which increases your ability to take responsibility for your life.
Habit 2: Begin with the end in mind
Stephen invites you to start with the end in mind. He asks you to imagine your funeral. Think about how you would like your loved ones to remember you, what would you like them to acknowledge as your achievements and consider what difference you made in their lives. This will help you uncover some of your key values that should underpin your behaviour. Every day should contribute to the vision you have in your life. Knowing what is important to you will allow you to live life in service of what matters most. Identify the stories are you telling that don’t serve you and create new ones that better serve you and that are congruent with your values. The most effective way to beginning with the end is to create a personal mission statement.
Focus on the following:
- What you want to be (character)
- What you want to do (contribution and achievements)
- The values on which (both of these are based)
This will become the basis of every decision you make in your life. If you live your principles in life it creates the solid foundation from which to flourish.
Habit 3: Put first things first
For this habit Stephen asks you to answer the followings questions:
What one thing could you do regularly that you are not currently doing that would improve your personal life? Similarly what one thing could you do to improve your business or professional life?
Habit three focuses on the implementation of habit 1 and 2. By asking the above questions you become aware that you have the power to change your life in the present. It is about prioritising your commitments and putting the most important things first. This means cultivating the ability to say no to things that do not match your guiding principles. To manage your time effectively your actions must adhere to:
- They must be principle centred.
- Must be conscious and directed.
- They define your key mission which includes your values and long-term goals.
- They give balance to your life.
- They are organised weekly with daily adaptations as needed.
Habit 4 Think win, win
Stephen says win win is not a technique it is a philosophy of human interaction.
It is a frame of mind that seeks out a mutual benefit. To adopt a win, win mindset you must cultivate the habit of interpersonal leadership. This involves working on the following:
- Independent will
To be an effective win win leader covey says you need to embrace:
Character. This is the foundation upon which a win win mentality is created and it means acting with integrity, maturity and with an abundance mentality.
Relationships. Trust is essential to achieving a win win. You must nourish relationships to maintain a high level of trust.
Win win performance agreements and supportive systems. Create a standardised agreed upon set of desired results to measure performance within a system that can support a win win
Processes. All processes must allow a win win solution to arise.
Habit 5: Seek first to understand, then be understood
Stephen says; if you want to improve your interpersonal relationships you must endeavour to understand a situation before attempting to make yourself understood. The ability to communicate well is essential for your overall effectiveness. You need to perfect the art of listening.
While most people listen with the intent of replying; the proficient listener will listen with the intent to understand. This is known as the skill of empathic listening.
The empathic listener can get into the frame of reference of the person speaking. By doing so you see the world as they do and feel things the way they do therefore allows you to get a clearer picture of reality. Listen to people with the view to understand them and see how they will open up.
Once you feel you have understood the situation then it is time for you to make yourself understood. This requires courage from what you have learned on empathic listening. This will allow you to speak the same language and impact more.
Habit 6: Synergise
When synergy operates at its fullest it incorporates the desire to reach a win/win agreements with empathic communication. It’s the essence of principled centred leadership. It unifies and unleashes great power from people based on the tenant that the whole is greater than the parts.
The challenge is to apply principles of synergistic creative cooperation into your social interactions.
Synergy is a creative process that requires vulnerability, openness and communication. It means balancing the mental, emotional and psychological differences between a group of people and in doing so creating new paradigms of thoughts between group members. Synergy effectiveness involves great teamwork, team building and the creation of unity with other human beings.
Habit 7: Sharpen the saw
The seventh habit is all about enhancing yourself through the four dimensions of renewal:
- Physical: exercise, nutrition and stress management. You need to take care of your physical body, eating right, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly.
- Social/emotional: service, empathy, synergy, and intrinsic security. This provides you with security and meaning.
- Spiritual: Value clarification and commitment, study, and meditation. Focus on this area of your life and get closer to your centre and inner value systems.
- Mental: reading, visualising, planning and writing. Continually educate yourself means expanding your mind. This is essential for effectiveness.
Sharpen the saw is an expression to exercise these four regularly and consistently. This is the most important investment you can make in your life. It is essential to tend to each of these in balance as to work on one are more means you will neglect the others. By focusing on your physical health you inadvertently improve your mental health too. This in turn creates an upward spiral of growth and change that helps you to become more self-aware. Moving up the spiral means you must learn, commit and do increasingly more to move upwards and progressively become more efficient.
With that it concludes my recommendations for the five books every entrepreneur must read. I really hope you enjoyed this article. If you would like to read more like this one please feel free to click on the link below to gain access to more just like this one.
Until next time.
About The Author
A millionaire by 26 having started her own successful recruitment business Helen has gone on to build several multi-million pound ventures. Now the MD of a successful consulting business Helen shows people how to start and build a successful business quickly. With over 20 years experience, Helen is a multinational award winning business who has worked with other 15 thousand people to date.