The life of an entrepreneur isn't an easy one. There's no direct guide for starting and running your own business successfully.
I know firsthand what it's like to start businesses and have them fail. As someone who has built a multimillion-dollar business without ever taking any outside capital or having mentors, I can confidently attibute a large part of my success to the books I've read over the years.
I believe a lack of mentors is a big hurdle to success. Fortunately, thousands of people who are experts in different areas share knowledge that can directly help you as an entrepreneur. People who would normally charge hundreds or thousands of dollars for their time happily share valuable knowledge in books for $20.
As a new entrepreneur, the best thing you can do is begin discovering and learning about psychology, business, and human behavior, which all contribute to a successful business.
Below are five important books that entrepreneurs need to read.
The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber
Entrepreneurs fall into the trap of doing everything themselves. Author Michael Gerber tackles the idea of building systems in your business rather than relying on a person. If your business is only surviving because of your skills, you're not running a business – you're working in one.
You should have a system in place from day one that will allow anyone to step in and do your job. Like Gerber states, you should begin think of yourself as a franchise and systemize all parts of your business. If you have this mindset, you can organize things correctly.
Having important systems in place will allow you to step out of the role of a technician (someone who does things themselves) and into the role of a manager/operator.
Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger
Marketing is an important part of your business. To be good at marketing means you understand human behavior.
Jonah Berger dives into psychology to explain why things catch on, get shared, and make people want to share. Remember that anything can be worthy of word-of-mouth marketing, and Jonah explains how products go "viral" through the the simple mnemonic of STEPPS:
- Social currency: You want people to seem important when talking about your business. Give them a reason to brag to others about being part of or knowing about your business.
- Triggers: You want something relatable to your business that will make people think of you when they see it, hear it, or taste.
- Emotion: If you want people to share something, they need to feel something first. Think about the emotions your customers experience when they use your product or service.
- Public: You want people to see others engaging with your business. If it's observed, it's automatically more wanted. How can you incorporate social proof into your marketing?
- Practical value: Your marketing needs to seem useful. For example, giving out a 20%-off coupon can inspire people to share it with their friends.
- Stories: It's not information that's shared, but stories. Your business or product needs to be able to be part of a narrative.
Think about how you can incorporate these elements into your next marketing campaign.
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
Charles Duhigg introduces scientific discoveries in his book about why habits exist and how we can change them. A quick overview includes an explanation of how habits are 40% of your life. They have three different parts: cue, routine and reward. You can start changing your habits by fixing your routine. Additionally, willpower is a habit that can be learned, and it can change your life forever. Your habits can make or break your business.
Changing one pattern – a keystone habit – can teach you how to change other habits too. You can change this keystone habit by simply understanding how it works.
Ready, Fire, Aim by Michael Masterson
Michael Masterson has a unique take on what goes into building a successful company. His book is a practical look at how the priorities of a business change as it becomes larger.
When creating a new business, you have four main priorities: identifying your target market, developing something to sell to that market, finding an optimum selling strategy and, finally, selling your product.
As your business begins to grow, your role as the founder will change. While you progress through different ownership stages, your focus will change too so that your business can successfully handle the transition.
Deep Work: Rules for a Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
Cal Newport explains how to resist distractions and develop your focusing skills. Focus is sort of like a mental muscle – you need to train yourself and not push too hard when you're trying to increase your focus goals.
In this book, you can learn why deep work is so necessary to your success, how you can set up your work area to minimize distractions, how to write efficient emails that will cut back on back-and-forth chains, and how to memorize a sequence of playing cards.
Deep work is focused, uninterrupted, undistracted work on a singular task that will push your abilities to the limit. If you need help with your discipline, this is the book for you.
Building a successful business is no easy task. The more you learn, the better you become.