We are frequently asked if there are any books we'd recommend for people with their own businesses. So for something a bit different, and with the summer holidays upon us, we've put a small list together of titles we think are not only just a good read, but may also give you pause for thought with your own businesses.
All of these are available in paperback, ebook or Audiobook, and we've linked them all via an independent bookshop website to help promote small business (with the exception of the first title which is hard to get anywhere other than Amazon). There's even one to keep the Kids busy!
1. The Founder's Dilemas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls that can sink a start up - Noam Wasserman
This is the first book I recommend to anyone with a relatively young business, especially if there are multiple people involved. Noam Wasserman, a former professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and currently dean of the Yeshiva University Sy Syms School of Business writes a brilliant, concise guide to get you thinking about the very foundations you are building your business on, and how to navigate potential issues of the involvement of multiple stakeholders, investors, family and friends. He draws on real world examples and suggests ways we can build better more stable businesses by getting the early decisions right.
It's an easy, insightful read.
2. Shoe Dog - Phil Knight
The autobiography of Nike founder Phil Knight, essentially tells the story of the rise of Nike, from it's humble origins of Phil living at home with his parents and going door to door selling Japanese footwear to the formation of his "Blue Ribbon" sports shoe distribution company, to the design, production and eventual release of his own shoes - Nike.
This is a great read, not least because the style is extremely accessible, but the struggles at every stage of the journey are laid bare - there were numerous occasions that Phil Knight, Blue Ribbon and Nike were financially on the edge, but there are lessons we can can learn from his perseverance, endeavour and bravery to get to Nike to where it is.
The issues surrounding the ethics of Nike's production is discussed in detail towards the end of the book, which may or may not satisfy the reader's concerns, however as entrepreneurs, the rise of Nike is a story nothing short of essential reading.
3. Black Box Thinking - Matthew Syed
To be honest, any of Matthew Syed's books are worth your time (especially Bounce) but Black Box Thinking seems especially pertinent to anyone running their own business.
Matthew Syed is a former professional Table Tennis player, now turned Journalist for the Times and acclaimed public speaker. His books center around performance, psychology and mindset in areas as wide as sport, business and politics. Indeed there is a lot of crossover.
The central theme of Black Box thinking is the way we learn from failures and adapt in order to grow and succeed. It makes the similar point a number of times, but the application of real world examples keep the book engaging and make you think how you can apply that mind set to your own circumstances. Learning from our mistakes is something we all know we should do - but do we actually do it?
4. Radical Candor - Kim Scott
Having worked for both Google and then Apple, Kim Scott has a vast amount of management experience and in her book "Radical Candor" puts forward the argument that to be a boss, you don't necessarily need to be either a "pushover or a jerk" - there is a way to manage with humanity that will not only produce the same results, but very often better ones from your staff. A great read for anyone with employees or team members - (Honourable mention for Kim Scott's new book "Just Work: How to root out Bias")
5. Kid Start-Up: How YOU can become an Entrepreneur - Mark Cuban, Shaan Patel and Ian McCue
If your kids are bored over the summer holidays and want some ideas, this is a great book to get them thinking about how to start a small business and what it takes to make money. Aimed at 9-12 year old's the book is engaging enough for them to keep them interested and might just inspire them to try something new. Not only that, a lot of the lessons and ideas presented are equally relevant to real world businesses, focusing on fundamentals, passion and hard work.
(Just remember when your kids are off making millions from their start up, they'll need a good accountant!)