Someone once told me that there are two things that will drive change in your life – the people you meet and the books you read. I freely admit that when it comes to running a business after 12 years there are still a lot of questions I am looking for answers to. These six books I read in 2014 helped make this list a bit shorter. They are all available on Kindle.
The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers
This book was a quick, fast and enthralling read. Ben tells the raw story of his time as a CEO of a tech startup that ended up a success but diced with disaster many, many times along the way. Ben is now a partner in one of Silicon Valley’s prime venture capital businesses. It ended well. But his honest description on what worked well and what didn’t make for great reading.
Joy, Inc.: How We Built a Workplace People Love
Who doesn’t want a business people love to work in? Richard Sheridan explains how this seemed like an impossible task for his Software Development Company at the start and the steps he took to make it work in the end. Now people come from around the US to tour his company to learn what worked and why.
Problem Solving 101: A simple book for smart people
How do you go about solving problems? Or do you hide from them, hoping they will go away? This book is ideal for those who hide or those without a reliable method to solve whatever comes their way. Originally written for Japanese children, it has gone on to become a business book classic.
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
This book challenged my belief that everything in business carried the same level of importance. That belief was replaced with the concept of the “The Vital Few” – those limited pieces of work that produce the maximum amount of difference. I wrote a review that digs into more detail. You can find it here.
Zero to One: Notes on Start Ups, or How to Build the Future
Blake Masters, Peter Thiel
Peter Thiel was a founder of PayPal who cashed up when the business was sold and then decided to back a relatively young company called Facebook. He is worth squillions. His writing is deep, clear and worth the time to work through. This book covers some interesting theories on the merits of competition and what the business owner can do to avoid it at all costs.
Work The System: The Simple Mechanics of Making More and Working Less (Revised third edition, 4th printing, September 1, 2014)
Yes, I admit the title is not short of hype. Add to this a structure that seems at times to meander and things are not looking good. However, cut through all that and you’ll find gold in here. First you need to believe that a successful business is a series of successful systems, rather than a magical mix of good intentions with staff who take action based on gut instinct. Get the system correct, and the rest falls into place. Not an easy read, not that compelling, BUT apply what he suggests and the title could become a reality.