Books are easy to dismiss for many of us. After all, they will not single-handedly transform you into a hotshot entrepreneur overnight. But if your hope to be successful, you cannot afford to ignore the return on investment the right kind of books offer. In a recent viral article, award-winning entrepreneur and author Michael Simmons notes that the world’s top business leaders, including Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Mark Zuckerberg all make time for books.
In fact, Oprah credits a lot of her success to her reading habit. American investor Mark Cuban makes time to read for more than three hours a day, while billionaire entrepreneur David Rubenstein reads six books a week and Dan Gilbert, the billionaire owner of US basketball team Cleveland Cavaliers, reads for one to two hours a day. We have compiled a list of five books that will be worth your while on the entrepreneurial path.
1. Money, Real Quick: The Story of M-Pesa
The success of mobile-phone-based money transfers, financing and micro-financing is familiar to all entrepreneurs. This book by Tonny Omwansa and Nicholas Sullivan takes you through the innovation, disruption and transformation M-Pesa went through to become the service it is today. It offers insights into the setbacks experienced, offering you key tips on how to handle similar hurdles. At its launch in 2014, the then ICT Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i noted that: “This book will allow us to share with the rest of the world this phenomenal innovation that has redefined the local financial landscape. M-Pesa is a case study in the key roles that relevance and access have in resolving societal problems.”
2. Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies
Have you wanted to sift fact from fiction in building a business? Then this is where to start. The book is based on six-year research on 18 enduring companies, from their start-up phase to their exceptional growth. Jim Collins and Jerry Porras cut through entrepreneurship buzzwords to the heart of what it takes to build a company that will hold its own against outstanding businesses. The authors explain the ideologies that work and what it takes to become a ‘business of tomorrow’.
3. The Power of a Positive No (William Ury)
The entrepreneurial canvas is dotted with women and men juggling many roles. We are often persuaded to believe that whatever comes our way should not be allowed to slip through our fingers. However, this book by William Ury dismisses this notion and aims to help you bring order to your business venture. It underscores the need to pick only what is beneficial to your business. Phil Libin, the boss of Evernote, a document-storage service, in an interview with The Economist, noted: “(Entrepreneurship) is amazingly difficult work – you have no life balance, no family time, and you will never work harder in your life.” He credits the book with restoring order and routine in his life.
4. How to Win Friends and Influence People
With resources like this Dale Carnegie book, your business should be able to skip over a lot of the trial and error phase of growth. The book, first published in 1936, teaches you how to make friends for your business, master the art of pitching ideas to people who might not be interested and how to handle competition. Warren Buffet, one of the world’s most successful investors, is said to have taken Carnegie’s classes when he was 20. Over the years, he has praised the book for teaching him how to build an impressive empire.
5. Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative
“Nothing is original, so embrace influence, collect ideas, remix and re-imagine to discover your own path.”
This is the main idea Austin Kleon anchors his book on. It is a classic business read, full of illustrations, short sentences and creative one-liners. It even quotes the Bible to give its basic premise more weight: Ecclesiastes 1:9 – “There is nothing new under the sun.”
Kleon notes that once an entrepreneur is free from the burden of being completely original, then he or she can “stop trying to make something out of nothing” and “embrace influence instead of running away from it”.
When Kleon was invited to speak about his book at a business forum, he added that: “The people you bump into today, later, take something from them, but bring it back to your desk. Bring it back to where you do your work, combine it with your own ideas and your thoughts. Transform it into something completely new. And then put it out into the world.”