Business-Books-for-Beginners-to-Learn-the-Basics

10 Business Books for Beginners to Learn the Basics

Initially, when we start. We’re strangely unaware of how much stuff we don’t know about running a business. With time, we gain more experience and we start to understand how a business should be operated.

But this approach – starting a business and learning as you go – costs time, money, and can literally make you homeless.

Is there an alternative?

Yes! Consider yourself a beginner and read business books that will teach you the essential skills of managing a company.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Books help you fail on paper.

The best thing about reading books is that you get to learn from what others have already figured out.

Before printing business cards and walking away from your day job. It’s a good idea to check what the most successful business owners did (and some still do) by reading their stories.

Because let’s face it…

Starting a business feels scary. And it is scary!

You have to think about so many things – what you want to do, what you want to sell, how you will plan your business, how you’ll differentiate yourself from the rest, etc. Plus, there are so many extra things that can go wrong along the way.

But that’s not all!

On top of everything, stats are not on your side when it comes down to starting a business.

Why?

Well, statistically speaking, you’re going to fail. More than 60% of all new businesses fail after the first 2 years. This doesn’t mean they quit because they don’t love what they are doing. This means that they quit because they don’t have enough resources to keep operating.

The books listed below aim to help you learn business basics. The goal is simple: Equip yourself with the right tools, so you can increase your chances of succeeding and lower the odds of going bankrupt.

10 Business Books for Beginners:

1. Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy

Ogilvy on Advertising book cover

What’s the book about?

Hire people who are better than you are. And spend a lot of time figuring out the best headline for your ad. Why? Ads are not selling. They are a creative representation of your product and in a way complete it. These are just some of the things you’ll learn from this title. David Ogilvy – known as the “Father of Advertising” – shares his secrets on running an advertising agency. How to think about ads and how to craft them. How to think about business and how to run your company.

Why it can help?

The book will completely change how you view advertising. Usually, we think that buying ad spots is an extra channel that can bring you more sales. But that’s the wrong approach. Advertising should create a compelling narrative around your product. Not just create awareness for your product. Rather, your focus should be to create an uncontrollable desire towards what you’re offering. By creatively showcasing the strengths of your product, you build a base of raging fans. Not just mere consumers.

Thought-provoking quote:

“It isn’t the whiskey they choose, it’s the image.” David Ogilvy

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2. Working in Public by Nadia Eghbal

Working in Public book cover

What’s the book about?

Can you start a business by creating and maintaining open source software? Should you do it and what you should do if you want to stop at some point? Nadia Eghbal packs some interesting insights about creating a transparent project online. While the book feels mainly for engineers who are also entrepreneurs. I think that a lot of people can benefit from the lessons inside this title. After all, every business is, in a way, open source. The more you accept it, the better you’ll become at what you do.

Why it can help?

The discussion about creating in public is becoming more and more popular. When you’re fully transparent, you share every win and every setback with your audience. You create this personal connection with the people following you. These folks become part of the journey. They feel like they are part of your team. Thus, they stay longer and support you for longer. That’s, I think, the best idea in this book.

Thought-provoking quote:

“Maybe platforms do a lot more for creators than we realize. Instead of treating platforms as adversaries, we might think of platforms as powerful allies for creators, and try to understand the strange, symbiotic relationship they’ve formed with one another.” Nadia Eghbal

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3. Get Together by Bailey Richardson

Get Together book cover

What’s the book about?

More and more businesses rely on communities. Whether this will be by using the traditional evil social media platforms or by using something more elegant, this is up to you. But creating a tribe around your brand can be the best way to support your work and add extra value to the people excited about your products. Get Together walks you through everything you need to know about creating and nurturing an online group of like-minded people.

Why it can help?

Some brands or individuals online rely solely on their communities to earn an income. Initially, it might sound easy to gather a group of people around. You just create a channel and share it with your email list. However, that’s not a community. That’s a bunch of strangers. To create a vibrant community, you need to build together. To get stronger along the way. This book will help you shift your focus from starting a community to earn money to starting a community to make everyone inside the group stronger and better.

Thought-provoking quote:

“The most vibrant communities offer members a chance to act on their passions with one another.” Bailey Richardson

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4. Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss

never-split-the-difference-book

What’s the book about?

Negotiating is a big part of your life if you’re a business owner. You’re constantly negotiating. With clients. With suppliers. With your employees. Eventually, you realize that your skills to persuade others are quite beneficial. Chris Voss, a former FBI hostage negotiator will help you win more deals. He teaches by showcasing how he approached face-to-face conversations with bank robbers in the past. And, how these insights can aid us in a business environment.

Why it can help?

Full of verbal maneuvers, this book can help you think like the person sitting in front of you. Understand their real needs while standing for what you want – and how not to give in to what others want. As you will uncover from the book. It’s about making others convince themselves that you’re right. Once you get that, you will completely revamp your negotiation strategy.

Thought-provoking quote:

“Negotiate in their world. Persuasion is not about how bright or smooth or forceful you are. It’s about the other party convincing themselves that the solution you want is their own idea. So don’t beat them with logic or brute force. Ask them questions that open paths to your goals. It’s not about you.” Chris Voss

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5. Little Red Book of Selling by Jeffrey Gitomer

Little Red Book of Selling by Jeffrey Gitomer

What’s the book about?

Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of a series of books that aim to help you become better at selling. This particular handbook was one of the first books I’ve read about making others open their wallets. The writing style and the strategies will help you see the process of selling and what you need to do in order to convince more people that your product is worth it.

Why it can help?

The Little Red Book of Selling will show you the other loop. The loop we often fail to master. If we label creating a product as the first loop. We can say that selling the product is the second. Without selling you don’t have a business. You simply have an idea about something. Learning the basic principles of selling will make your business actually a business.

“In order for you to be the BEST you can be for others, first you must be BEST for yourself.” Jeffrey Gitomer

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6. Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne

Blue Ocean Strategy book cover

What’s the book about?

Instead of arming yourself and aiming directly at your competitors. The authors suggest something else. Something smoother. Creating a blue ocean. Meaning, that your business success relies not on bloody ren oceans where fierce competition is leading to more casualties and shrinking market cap. Instead, you involve yourself in new markets. Creating something unique. Focusing on a strategy which the authors call “value innovation”.

Why it can help?

If you don’t have a lot of resources and if you’re just getting started. Creating something that already exists won’t help you thrive. You need to craft something unique. Become an outlier. Something different, even strange, for people to talk about. Blue Ocean Strategy presents an approach to reach these high-profit waters that are also peaceful and competitor-free.

Thought-provoking quote:

“Value innovation is the cornerstone of blue ocean strategy. We call it value innovation because instead of focusing on beating the competition, you focus on making the competition irrelevant by creating a leap in value for buyers and your company, thereby opening up new and uncontested market space.” W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne

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7. Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Antifragile book cover

What’s the book about?

On the surface, this book is about shielding yourself from all the adversities that will surely happen in your life and business. Deep down though, this book is about making yourself and your business stronger with time. Antifrigle stands for getting slightly stronger after each hit. Drop a vase and it will smash. Life through a catastrophic event and you will become stronger. As your immune systems strengthen with age, your business should also become more resilient the more it gets hit by laws, competitors, market share getting slimmer, etc.

Why it can help?

The philosophical and narcissistic way of writing may not appeal to everyone. But Nassim Nicholas Taleb offers a lot of insights that will help you create a stronger business. You get to see how many things can go wrong when running your business. Therefore, you will better prepare for the disastrous events that will surely catch up with you at some point.

Thought-provoking quote:

“The psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer has a simple heuristic. Never ask the doctor what you should do. Ask him what he would do if he were in your place. You would be surprised at the difference.” Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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8. Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin

Linchpin book cover

What’s the book about?

While you can build a whole library of Seth Goldins books – and I’m not saying that this is a good thing – this specific one is a keeper. It showcases why you need to create your own business. But most importantly, it explains how to become irreplaceable in a system. Linchpin will help you create remarkable products and give you the power to design the future you want for yourself.

Why it can help?

There is no master manual that will help you create a successful business. There are plenty that will support you to start a business, but they won’t guarantee that you’ll make it. This book offers a way of thinking that will show you how to thrive in a world without rules. How to take advantage of the lawless dynamics and use them to your advantage.

Thought-provoking quote:

“Art isn’t only a painting. Art is anything that’s creative, passionate, and personal. And great art resonates with the viewer, not only with the creator.” Seth Godin

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9. Six Thinking Hats by Edward de Bono

Six Thinking Hats book cover

What’s the book about?

Edward de Bono explains what type of “hats” you need to wear daily as a business owner. The method is simple to get. There is a white hat for gaining information, the red hat for acknowledging emotions, etc. What de Bono wants to express is that you need to be a healthy generalist to make your business successful. In other words, you need to have and master many roles.

Why it can help?

I think the book is useful because you 1) get to see how many positions you need to fill as a business owner and 2) it helps you better structure your time. Personally, I schedule different days for doing different things. What I mean is that I don’t try to be creative while doing accounting. I create separate “rooms” for these activities. This way, I get a lot more done.

Thought-provoking quote:

“It is not the logical part of thinking that changes emotions but the perceptual part. If we see something differently, our emotions may alter with the altered perception.” Edward De Bono

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10. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell

The 21 Irrefutable Laws book cover

What’s the book about?

John C. Maxwell is the guru of leadership. Often telling us what to do without explaining how to do it. While this title might not give you a step-by-step process on how to become a cherished leader. It can give you something better. A way to think about leadership. How to give, give, give without expectations. If we are able to do just that, we’ll become better leaders.

Why it can help?

Leadership is often perceived as a lonely road where others are miles behind you and you should do everything possible to keep your distance. It’s quite the opposite. Leadership is working with the people who most need help. Helping folks not because you expect to follow you. But because you’re genuinely want to support them in their own quest.

Thought-provoking quote:

“You can’t move people to action unless you first move them with emotion… The heart comes before the head.” John C. Maxwell

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Some Closing Thoughts

Don’t get paralyzed by the number of books above.

Also, don’t try to read all of them. Pick one or two. The ones that you feel need most.

Personally, after creating a bunch of websites and after reading a bunch of business books, I found out that to win when creating a company. You should focus on simple things. Plainly, the simplest solutions are always better.

Or in other words, don’t aim to create a massive social media platform that will compete with the giants. Start by creating something useful for 1000 people. You will move quite faster.

But there is one more thing that will help you stand out in the ocean of products and services. The key ingredient.

It’s creativity.

If you can create a small, niche business that is unique – and here, by unique I don’t necessarily mean innovative, it can simply be a fresh perspective on an existing product – you will find a large fan base faster.

Lastly, keep in mind that the number of books you read won’t magically make you more successful.

Yeah. It feels good to read the most popular titles – what Steve Jobs did or how to create a lean startup by reading the book from Eric Ries. But is this actually helping you move forward?

The way business books help is by explaining how you should think about your business and ways to mitigate failure.

Start small. Aim for healthy growth. And learn as you go.

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