Top ten business books to drive your business forward

By 3rd December 2015Ecommerce
Books stacked on top of each other

Book yourself some time this December to enjoy my list of great business reads. They are packed full of fresh business ideas and perspectives that will help you kickstart your 2016. Including stories of shop floor successes and tall tales of tumultuous team dynamics. I have found each of these books enjoyable and insightful in equal measures. My hope is that you will also find these gems helpful in your businesses and professional lives during the year ahead.

Biography / Company history

Delivering Happiness

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose

Tony Hsieh

Zappos managed to take a commodity product (shoes) and infused the online shopping experience with their own special recipe of exceptional customer service. To build a stand out business and brand. This book charts the Tony Hsieh’s (Zappos founder) journey from business failure to runaway success and acquisition by Amazon. He explains the secrets of the Zappos’ award-winning culture and shares many other lessons learnt along the way.

The Method Method

The Method Method: Seven Obsessions That Helped Our Scrappy Start-up Turn an Industry Upside Down

Eric Ryan & Adam Lowry

Method combines its non-toxic cleaning products with iconic product (packaging) design. The founders’ intense focus on building an environmentally conscious brand, married with their obsessive pursuit of ground-breaking product design, has turned out to be a winning formula. Quickly catapulting them into a globally recognised brand and industry leader.

Strategy

Purple Cow

Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable

Seth Godin

It is an unfortunate reality that we live in a world where every whim and wish is now just a click away. In this crowded landscape, how do you run a differentiated product/service offered and avoid the downward spiral of the ‘race to the bottom’? Seth Godin is a long-time business thought leader with a string of bestsellers to his name. Any one of which could have made it onto this list. My hope is that you read Purple Cow and then look at his other works.

Oversubscribed

Oversubscribed: How to Get People Lining Up to Do Business with You

Daniel Priestley

What if you intentionally set out to structure your business to become oversubscribed? After all, having a long queue of people lined up in front of your shop is a strong signal to the market that you must be offering something valuable. This book challenges you to understand your current, or desired, capacity and revenue. Then encourages you to incorporate clever signals and social proof into a campaign-based marketing strategy. All intended to drum up more business than you’ll possibly be able to serve. Rather counter-intuitively, the goal is to end up turning customers away, in order to command a premium for your product/service.

Management

Turn the Ship Around

Turn the Ship Around!: A True Story of Turning Followers Into Leaders

L. David Marquet

We have all seen those black and white war movies where the navy captains shouts his commands. They are quickly echoed back to him by each subordinate along the chain of command, until the poor guy actually holding the wheel makes the course change. This is the excellent book of one submarine captain who took over a failing submarine crew and turned it into an award-winning unit. His approach was to inject initiative into every layer of the hierarchy.  Officers (managers) no longer issue orders. Instead they become responsible for approving their teams’ recommendations. This was a revolutionary break from the traditional management style in the military. However, its results – empowered staff and safer operations – are lessons that should be applied to our businesses too. Boiled down to its essence, every conversation should start with “Captain, I intend to…”

The Alliance

The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age

Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha, Chris Yeh

The founder of LinkedIn makes the argument that lifetime employment has been replaced by what he has coined ‘tours of duty’ of between 6-36 months. Employees can have multiple tours at the same company. But the current generations of workers are framing their decisions and career progression in these new terms.

Fiction

The Phoenix Project

The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win

Gene Kim, George Spafford, and Kevin Behr

This is a novel that explains a fictional company’s decision making process and adoption of the increasingly popular DevOps methodology. Through clever storytelling it logically steps readers through all the elements that make up DevOps. All from the perspective of a stressed and over-worked information worker, who starts the story trying to turn down a promotion to join the management team.

Going Postal

Going Postal (2004), Making Money (2007) & Rising Steam (2013)

Terry Pratchett

The Moist von Lipwig mini-series – part of the larger 40+ book Discworld series by Terry Pratchet – follows the entrepreneurial endeavours of a condemned fraudster. Saved from the gallows by the city’s conniving ruler, he is instead put in charge of revitalising the city’s postal service, bank and railway. I’m not usually a fan of Terry Pratchett’s genre, but I found the business story arcs of this mini-series rather enjoyable.

On my own list

Badass

Badass: Making Users Awesome

Kathy Sierra

Kathy’s Head Rush blog has been an invaluable resource that I have returned to again and again, for several years. I happily admit that I didn’t think twice about buying this book purely on the strength of the author’s name.  To be honest, I figured the title said it all.

The 4-hour Chef

The 4-Hour Chef: The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learning Anything, and Living the Good Life

Timothy Ferriss

Ignore the title! This book is primarily about Tim’s efforts to distil the most efficient method for learning any new skill into it’s constituent parts and arriving at a repeatable process.

If you do happen to pick up one of the books mentioned above, and find it useful and/or enjoyable, I would be interested to hear from you. Please feel free to drop me your thoughts in an email (martin@logicspot.com), or via our Twitter (@LogicSpot).