Reading biographies is inspiring, but sometimes we have to get into the nitty-gritty of business planning. We will discuss our favorite business books at tomorrow’s NEW Wine Women and Wellness event from 2-4 p.m. at 57th Street Books. RSVP on Facebook or our Meetup Group, or just pop in!
Business, health and life insurance consultant Karen McCormack of McCormack Consulting Group has the following recommendations:
The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande
“Most of us use checklists of some sort, but this is a great exploration of those critical areas like aviation and surgery, where doing things exactly right, every time, can mean the difference between life and death”, said Karen. “The author explains how a simple checklist can produce a reduction in deaths from surgical complications, elimination of hospital infections and other fascinating stories of how they work in different applications.”
“Checklists are so much more than the things we want to get done each day and resonates with the business owner inside who knows that systems and organization are important, but doesn’t realize how much they can improve efficiency, communication and safety.”
Mastering the Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish
“This is a hands-on, meat and potatoes kind of book that guides business owners and leaders through the concept of having and using a strategic plan,” she said.
“From the one-page strategic plan process, to the practical actions you can take to strengthen your business culture this book is more like a business cookbook—follow the recipe and you can have tasty success and growth too!”
Good to Great by Jim Collins
“A classic must-read compares pairs of similar companies with equal opportunities available to them, where one achieved greatness and the other didn’t. This was based on an extensive 5 year study of the performance of well known companies over a 15 year period,” said Karen. “The author examines characteristics and traits of the companies leaders and offers some specific strategies and practices that the great companies use.”
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
“Gladwell is one of my favorite authors, who’s style of writing really makes you go, aha! Why didn’t I see it this way?” Karen said.
“While this book is a study of success and what makes some people highly successful (Outliers) and others not, it’s done in a storytelling format that is both fascinating and easy to read. He examines culture, background, when and where someone was born, even family history as an explanation for these outliers. He is well known for authoring the 10,000 hours rule which refers to the claim that it takes 10,000 hours to become expert at something.”
I’ve found the following to be helpful as I made the transition from corporate jobholder to solopreneur:
The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber
E-Myth is a great non-nonsense approach to setting up a business. It basically walks the reader through the operations of a business and insists that even as a solopreneur, you sort your roles out by category so that as you grow you have job descriptions at the ready to help you outsource tasks. It is not as complex as an actual business plan, but does showcase the need for a distinction of roles so you can avoid the pitfalls other businesses have faced from relying on reactive management and implicit partnerships.
I’m very inspired by Chris Guillebeau, author of The Art of Nonconformity and The $100 Startup.
The Art of Nonconformity addresses how we get caught up a sort of Groupthink of what our lives are supposed to be like, but that living our true wishes and aspirations can be far more rewarding. I still feel ‘conformist’ in many ways, but this book has helped me realize that I may not be so weird with my dreams after all.
The $100 Startup offers case studies and worksheets to debunk the myth that we need angel investors or huge savings to make our dreams come true. Chris interviews a variety of businesses making a minimum of $50,000 in annual income, showing that 1. We don’t have to wait for a big payday to realize our dreams and 2. Success doesn’t necessarily consist of 6-figure or million-dollar goals.
I also have the Business Plan workbooks pictured above, but have not made it through either of them, because my business has been in such flux over the past year in terms of artistic focus and even the products that are actually selling. My goal is to get back to these though and set up a more formal business plan as I flesh out what makes sense for me from a financial and creative perspective.
What I do is check all these types of books out from the library, and if they resonate with me I buy them to actually use them. Ultimately you have to determine what inspires you, what appeals to you, and whether you learn through audio, visuals, reading or other means. It never hurts to fill your brain with insights and the experience of others, and then to pull out of that knowledge what applies to you.
On that note, I also want to mention The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss. It is similar to Nonconformity in that it values efficiency over working the traditional 9 to 5 job. I like this book for its thought-provocation and its resources, but it is skewed toward more service-oriented vocations or electronic products, making heavy use of Virtual Asistants, automated systems, and the internet. Not as applicable to those with handmade products, retail stores, or location-oriented businesses. I also think that most entrepreneurs like being involved in the day-to-day operations, and this seems to be more geared toward people who like to live a mobile lifestyle away from the business. I can’t find the article now, but there was a journalist seeking Tim out to see how he is doing, a few years later, but not being able to track him down, causing a bit of skepticism on the truth of his claims.
I’ve read numerous books on starting a creative business too, but that list will take some time to compile. Join us tomorrow to share your favorite reads!