By Garry Floyd
For a lot of people out there similar to myself, they do not have a successful entrepreneur they can call for advice, or a angel investor they personally know that can explain the ins and outs of the business world. Luckily there are plenty of helpful books available from the top minds in business that can be accessed by anyone seeking additional knowledge. Personally, I’ve read hundreds of business books and will probably read hundreds more in my lifetime. I do want to point out a few that stand out to me as being very helpful for anyone interested in starting a business, or working in upper management for a company. The books vary in the information that they provide, but part of becoming a great business person involves being knowledgeable in numerous aspects of business. My list is not in any particular ranking order, but I advise anyone who is interested in improving their business skills to check all of these books out.
Ben Horowitz has been active in Silicon Valley since before the bubble in the early 2000’s. This book starts with a little history on his early life and then takes you to the days when he co-founded a company called Opsware, that was acquired by Hewlett Packard for 1.6 Billion. He gives you the details of what went on behind the scenes of his company when they were facing bankruptcy and close to shutting their doors before being acquired. Ben went on to form Andreesson Horowitz with Netscape fame Marc Andreesson. This Venture Capital company has funded a who’s who in Silicon Valley from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and may more. Ben also gives a hint of his influences from those in Hollywood and gives the audience a sense of his musical influences from being friends with Nas, Kanye West, and others. This book is great for anyone who wants to know the real stories behind taking your company public and the headaches that come with it. It’s always great to hear the story straight from the source
This book serves as a great handbook for mapping out what direction you want to take with your business. Whether it is an existing business, or one that you are planning, this book will help you organize your game plan and provide new ideas. There are many helpful charts available in the book that you can also download from their website. When not reading, this book can even be utilized as a great coffee table book with it’s unique design and wonderful graphics and images. I use the business model canvas for any business idea I have and also for any of my consulting projects. The authors did a great job at gathering information and presenting it to the public in an organized, understandable way.
This book is very helpful for reviewing those initial ideas you have, and deciding if they are really worth following through with. Of course all businesses are different, but this book gives you the tools and steps to take to verify if your idea is a money maker or a money taker. This will definitely be a book that I continue to reference for every new idea that I have in the future. The author also provides helpful forms and links through their website.
There are always decisions that must be made on a daily basis when running a company. Some of these decisions can end up changing the company forever, and can even change the way that everyone does business in the future. This book highlights 18 business decisions that have had an impact on all of business as well as push the decision maker into business stardom. We are familiar with stories like bringing Steve Jobs back to Apple, after forcing him out years before, but the background history regarding those decisions are hardly known. The authors offer various stories of corporate history from Zappos offering free shipping and returns, to Henry Ford doubling his worker’s wages. This book gives you an insight to how some of the top executives made important, industry changing decisions for their companies. It also provides knowledge to all current and future business executives, on how to deal with the many obstacles that they may face in their career.
Bob Fifer is a former CEO of Kaiser Associates and the go to consultant to hundreds of Fortune 500 companies. This book, Double Your Profits was published in 1994 before the recent tech boom, but it focuses on the principles of running an efficient company that will equal success in any year. The author offers 78 tips to cut costs, increase productivity, and double your profits. His uncommon suggestions such as “maximizing customer satisfaction leads to bankruptcy” is a 180 degree turn from the common “customer is alway right” motto. Fifer explains that you should only provide differentiation that the customer will pay for and not build unwanted items they don’t want. This will drive up prices and drive away customers. There’s also tips on being the “bad guy” , setting salaries, and finding out what your competitors pay. From the author’s information, you can tell that he’s speaking from experience and knows what he’s talking about. If you already own a business, plan on starting one, or want to brush up on your consulting skills, this book is an excellent source to reference.