Walk into any book store and the business self-help titles adorning the shelves offer you hope, solace, inspiration, faith in your own powers and a promise of a successful business. Some entrepreneurs consider them a valuable aid in running a business, while others look upon them as nothing more than an ego-trip for the authors.
The idea of business books was conceived in North America where there is a big appetite for them. Lots of business owners are looking for help and there are a lot of authors who help those people focus on that; and any book is cheaper than the cheapest consultant!
There is always a new idea and always a new book for it.
One of the most influential books has been How to Win Friends and Influence People, written by Dale Carnegie in 1937. It consists of home-spun advice about building confidence and communicating better. The financier Warren Buffett, no less, has often cited it as an inspiration. Dale Carnegie had been running self-improvement courses for 25 years before writing his book - and those courses are still going strong in 75 countries.
The key to the success of the book and the training is that it is based on human nature, which is the same all over the world. In this day and age, people are more comfortable looking at a computer screen and they are losing the ability to communicate face-to-face.
Self-help, or self-improvement, is a self-guided improvement - economically, intellectually, or emotionally - often with a substantial psychological basis. Many different self-help groupings exist and each has its own focus, techniques, associated beliefs, proponents and in some cases, leaders.
Self-help often utilizes publicly available information or support groups, on the Internet as well as in person, where people in similar situations join together. From early examples in self-driven legal practice and home-spun advice, the connotations of the word have spread and often apply particularly to education, business, psychology and psychotherapy, commonly distributed through the popular genre of self-help books. According to the APA Dictionary of Psychology, potential benefits of self-help groups that professionals may not be able to provide include friendship, emotional support, experiential knowledge, identity, meaningful roles, and a sense of belonging.
Business books make you think with great advice like - People matter! Get to know your clients and colleagues, regardless of who they are or what role they play in your business. You gain respect by showing it; all the time, without outside incentives. Good business is maintained when everyone feels valued.
Seek a board of advisers (friends, family or small business group) to help push you, bring out the best and hold all your ideas and goals accountable.
You can pay thousands to get the same advice from the world’s leading consultancies but somewhere, in a business book, is the advice you need that will change the way you do business and will take you from where you are now to where you need to go. Instead of mocking business books, and those that use them, maybe you should take the time to browse the local book store and who knows how much your life, and your business, could change?
Amongst the most influential business books of all time are
- The Age of Unreason (1989), by Charles Handy
- Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies (1994), by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras
- Competing for the Future (1996), by Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad
- Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors (1980), by Michael E. Porter
- Emotional Intelligence (1995), by Daniel Goleman
- The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Business Don't Work and What to Do about It (1985), by Michael E. Gerber
- The Essential Drucker (2001), by Peter Drucker
- The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization (1990), by Peter Senge
- First, Break All the Rules (1999), by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman
- The Goal (1984), by Eliyahu Goldratt
- Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap ... and Others Don't (2001), by Jim Collins
- Guerilla Marketing (1984), by Jay Conrad Levinson
- How to Win Friends and Influence People (1936), by Dale Carnegie
- The Human Side of Enterprise (1960), by Douglas McGregor
- The Innovator's Dilemma (1997), by Clayton Christensen
- Leading Change (1996), by John P. Kotter
- On Becoming a Leader (1989), by Warren Bennis
- Out of the Crisis (1982), by W. Edwards Deming
- My Years with General Motors (1964), by Alfred P. Sloan Jr.
- The One Minute Manager (1982), by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson
- Reengineering the Corporation: A Manifesto for Business Revolution (1993), by James Champy and Michael Hammer
- The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People (1989), by Stephen R. Covey
- The Six Sigma Way: How GE, Motorola and other Top Companies are Honing Their Performance (2000), by Peter S. Pande, Robert P. Neuman and Roland R. Cavanagh
- Toyota Production System (1988), by Taiichi Ohno
- Who Moved My Cheese? (1998), by Spencer Johnson
Business books have a lot to say to leaders trying to bolster their reputation and influence. If you want to become more successful in your organization, your best bet is to hone your personal skills and become a more effective practitioner.
Communicating effectively, becoming a more accomplished persuader, and helping others achieve their performance goals have long been foundational managerial roles. But as organizations become more diverse and complex, and as everyone is called upon to work more independently, refining these skills has become an imperative.
There are thousands of great business books out there that can help you start a business, set and achieve goals, promote your business, manage your finances and so much more. In fact, there are so many business books on the shelves that it can be overwhelming to determine which are worth reading.
The demand for business books right now is huge, as company executives grapple with how to not only keep their company above water, but also how to grow their business, retain top talent, find innovative ways gain a competitive edge and come out on top, despite the setbacks they may have encountered during the recession. Similarly, employees are looking for ways to become indispensible to their company, ensuring safety through brutal rounds of layoffs and poising them for success in the future.
It’s not worth reading bad books, but good, concise business books can be worth thousands of times the price of the book and there are hundreds of great books.
Sites Worth Finding is a simple way of searching for free information on a wide range of subjects; simply choose your search term and search below: