Top 5 favorite books for business owners

June 12, 2008 at 1:00 pm in Books & Entertainment, Work & Money by Mary B. Harvey

Leaving the traditional business world to start my own business and work from home transformed my life for the better. Here are the five books I recommend most to business owners.

1. Good to Great by Jim Collins.
Many of us settle for good; we may want to get from good to great, but we don’t know how to make that jump. It’s frustrating. This book is about how to get from one to another and not stop. Reading it made a huge impact on me because it showed me that, no matter how hard or even impossible that transition seems, it’s do-able.

Sometimes when we’re surrounded by mediocrity or by “good enough,” we can start to wonder whether we’re nuts to want more. We tend to ask, “Am I setting the bar too high? Should I learn to be satisfied with what I’m doing?” And the answer is, no, you don’t have to settle. You don’t have to give up. This book was a great affirmation of something I already knew, but I really needed that. These days I get similar affirmation from a women’s advisory council that I’m a part of. It can be very good to just sit around a table and hear the voices of people who are in the same boat. It’s like a support group in a way. You know you’re not crazy — that you’re on the right track.

2. The World Is Flat by Thomas Friedman.
This book talks about globalization, the fact that we are now a global economy. This certainly is true about my business – we lose plenty of business to offshoring. But in most companies, and most industries, it’s relevant. No matter what line of work you’re in, you’re dealing with other countries and cultures. The book reminds us that it’s not just about us Americans any more. Anyone in business needs to be aware of and thinking ahead on that.
3. Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow by Marsha Sinetar.
I read this book at a very pivotal part of my life, and it had a transformative effect on me. In the corporate world, where I’d worked for fifteen years, it was all about the money. I didn’t know how to do anything but chase the money. This was the book convinced me that I could just enjoy life, be fulfilled professionally, and the money would follow; I would be able to make a living. That’s when I gave up my nine-to-five job to become a freelancer, and eventually start my own staffing and recruiting firm.

People are so hung up on how to pay the bills, what people will think, and needing to be a responsible adult. But life is too short to do a job you hate. Lots of people do it. One thing I’ve learned is that most of us could live on a lot less money than we live on now. Life is not about stuff. It’s not about dying with the most toys.

4. Principle-Centered Leadership by Stephen Covey.
I like all of Stephen Covey’s books. Like the rest of them, this one has a lot of great things to say about business. I wish the guys at Enron and Wal-Mart would read it. I wish more people would embrace the Golden Rule in business — the principle of treating people like you’d like to be treated. In this book, Covey explains that even in business, it doesn’t have to be all about the money. There’s enough to go around for everyone. Cutthroat competition is not where it’s at. Family and balance are more important. Balance and quality time and treating people right are more important.
5. Free Agent Nation by Daniel H Pink.
This was one of first books written about people working for themselves. it’s a statistical treatment about how we’ve been able to move from corporate workforce to independently employed workforce. I highly recommend it for people starting their own business. Pink also has a new book out which is even better, entitled A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future. It argues that we’re moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age. According to Pink, the guys who systematized and computerized everything are done. Now, we’re entering a period where creative thinkers and conceptual thinkers will be taking things back, using the tools the high-tech folks gave us.

What book on business, entrepreneurship, or job hunting do you recommend?

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