Quite a few years ago I read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R Covey. While not a pure business book as such, the book had a strong influence on the way I try to live my life and run my business.
The book talks about rules and habits that help achieve a change in mindset, with increased responsibility for our own choices, as well as guidance on how to achieve synergy with others.
In the first section of the book, Stephen talks about being proactive and acting in alignment with your values and goals – definitely something I try to do in managing my business.
Much of his advice in the following chapters focuses on how to work interdependently with others. These ideas influence the way I treat clients and co-workers, particularly the ‘think win-win’ chapter, and the section about ‘seeking first to understand, then to be understood’.
The author also speaks about an ‘abundance mentality’, a mindset that assumes there are enough resources available to share with others. No need for dirty tricks to “steal” business from others, there’s enough to go around for all of us!
Occasionally you find a book that shapes the way you approach your work. It not only inspires you, but it makes you actively change the way you do things. For me that book was Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think, which I discovered when I was just beginning to hone my skills as a web designer.
My job is to not only create websites for my clients, but to build a connection between them and their customers. However, it’s difficult to put yourself in your customers’ shoes. This is where Krug’s book helps.
Don’t Make Me Think is about usability. It explains how customers behave and why they choose certain paths. Most of it is common sense but even simple ideas can be tricky to implement. Krug’s book makes sense of it all.
This is essential reading for web designers, but it’s a great read for all business owners. Whether you have a website or not, Don’t Make Me Think gives you insight into how customers behave online AND offline.
Steve Krug explains things in such an easy and entertaining way, that you won’t even realise how much you’ve absorbed until long after you put the book down. Highly recommended.
The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman provides a useful snapshot of: creating value, marketing, sales and other topics. Whilst it is thin on content in parts, it is one of those books you can leave on the bedside table and have a quick flick through from time to time.
Personally, I really liked the first chapter on “value creation” because this is where I see the primary issue in my business, and understanding how to make new customers see that we offer “better value” than our competitors, as opposed to simply “lower costs”. I also like how the later chapters refer back to the previous chapters, which link the topics together.
In summary, this book is a good read for a time-poor business owner to gain an overview of the business issues you need to consider, and has some good practical tips along the way to assist you with decision making.
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