The Alternative Board was founded on the notion that business owners can’t go it alone. No one likes asking for help, but when it comes to running a business, it’s impossible to succeed without enlisting the wisdom of others. Sure, you got this far, because you have a unique set of skills, experience, and knowledge, but when you learn from others, you increase your range and perspective.
As a business owner, there are many excellent ways to increase your professional aptitude. Working with a mentor can provide you with company-specific advice from someone who’s been there and done that. Online literature, such as social content and podcasts, offer quick tips and tools for advancing your business and overcoming hurdles. But one of the most effective (and time-honored) methods for stimulating innovative thinking is hitting the books!
Business owners are driven people who have been writing books on the path to success for years. Engaging with their writing gives you exclusive insight into their way of facing common business challenges. If reading more business books was one of your resolutions this year, here’s our list of must reads:
- Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull Pixar Co-Founder Ed Catmull’s New York Times Bestseller is a tribute to the creative side of business. Called “the most thoughtful management book ever” by Fast Company, Creativity Inc. shows leaders how to embrace originality and inspire a team. Most people forget that Steve Jobs was one of the owners of Pixar and heavily involved in the business. As a bonus, Creativity Inc provides another side to Jobs – portraying him more warmly than Walter Isaacson.
Take a sneak peek into Pixar Animation’s “braintrust sessions” to see how mediocre ideas become great successes. The #1 takeaway: “Give a good idea to a mediocre team, and they will screw it up. But give a mediocre idea to a great team, and they will either fix it or come up with something better.” Ed Catmull is known for his low key leadership style. Discover how this quiet leader created an empire with this excellent read.
- Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't by Jim Collins What are the defining traits of companies that transcend mediocrity to greatness? What separates good companies from great ones? Find out from Jim Collin’s extensively-researched book on the power of management strategy.
- Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne With over 3.5 million copies sold worldwide, Blue Ocean Strategy is a must-read for entrepreneurs. This bestseller on strategic success is based on the principle of defining a blue ocean for your business. Kim and Mauborgne's metaphor encourages business owners to tap into the competitor-free market space for maximum innovation and success.
- Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath Made to Stick is a quintessential read for business owners and marketers alike. This book about the power of communication will help you turn your ideas into concepts that stick, using revolutionary principles such as the “Human Scale Principle” and the “Velcro Theory of Memory.” Discover the six universal traits that turn your business’s messaging into lasting impressions.
- The Innovator's Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change the Way You Do Business by Clayton M. Christensen“This book ought to chill any executive who feels bulletproof — and inspire entrepreneurs aiming their guns,” says Forbes of this revolutionary business book that inspires businesses to step outside of the “right way” of doing things. Christensen’s book promotes the power of “disruptive technology” for spurring innovation and stepping outside of the traditional business model. Learn from the success and failures of some of the world’s top businesses with this innovative business book.
- The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Reis The Lean Startup is the go-to guide for avoiding the fate of the majority of startups: failure. Eric Ries’ startup model has been adopted by business owners around the world and changed the way small businesses structure their companies and launch products/services. Find out how to create something new under conditions of extreme uncertainty from this book on sustainable business.
- Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth GodinSeth Godin is one of the most powerful business influencers of the digital age. While Warren Buffett and Dale Carnegie may have set the stage for influential leadership, Seth Godin brings everything that’s been written about innovation to the modern era with his series of bestselling books and his highly influential blog.
Arguably his most powerful book to date, Purple Cow is based on the notion of standing out. By being “the purple cow in a field of monochrome Holsteins,” businesses can embrace “remarkability” to succeed. Harness the power of "remarkability" by reading this remarkable book!
Each of these books offers unique insight into entrepreneurship and what it means to be a great leader. If you’re looking for even more specific skill-building resources, explore The Alternative Board’s white paper library for a wide-ranging selection of business tips and advice.