business books that don’t suck
Business books. The ones written by old guys in the 1980s, full of tiered models and messages of buying low, selling high, being a go-getter and clawing your way to the top, right?
Well, sometimes. If you’ve written off the genre as being boring or repetitive, you might be missing out. Business books can be a fantastic way to learn from others’ mistakes, find inspiration or unlock that ‘aha’ moment that solves a problem in your own venture.
With tens of thousands of titles published every year, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by what's out there. To help you discover (or rediscover) some top-notch business books, here are five titles stuffed with page-turning lessons for entrepreneurs, small business owners and leaders alike.
For productivity advice: When by Daniel Pink
Most productivity advice focusses too much on ‘what’ to do, but misses the critical point on ‘when’ certain tasks are best completed. In this fascinating book, journalist Daniel Pink looks at examples where the wrong task at the wrong time has led to catastrophic consequences. He also shows how knowing your chronotype will help you make better decisions on what to do, when. If you feel like everyone else operates on a different time zone to you, this is a must-read.
For those in leadership positions: Dare to Lead by Brené BrownWith leadership increasingly scrutinised across industries and society (and rightly so), we’re living in a time where it's no longer optional to lead well. Starting from the principle of leading yourself in order to lead others, this book shines a light on the habits and behaviours we all need to be better leaders, business owners, family members and citizens. Brené puts a sharp focus on the courageous conversations needed (both with yourself and others) and how to put these into practice.
For expert marketing tips: Superfans by Pat FlynnOfficially the nicest guy on the internet, Pat Flynn shares the secrets to his generosity filled approach to building raving fans. Filled with practical advice, Back to the Future references, and plenty of ‘I can’t believe I didn’t think of that' moments, this book will make you rethink your customer engagement strategy, and motivate you to make a positive difference in your customers’ lives.
For a bit of self-development: Grit by Angela DuckworthWhat's the difference between those who succeed and those who struggle? It’s certainly not talent, but it might be grittiness. Researcher Angela Duckworth explores what it means to be gritty, why some people are grittier than others and what to do if you're running low on the quality.
For some late-night pondering: So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal NewportThis is a primo book about doing your best work, and it might just make you rethink your whole life. Inspired by a Steve Martin quote to budding comedians, Georgetown University Professor Cal Newport takes a harsh look at today’s work and career advice. He urges us to ignore the unhelpful ‘find your passion’ rhetoric and advocates instead for building a career based on what you're good at.
Steph Clarke is a facilitator, designer and podcaster based in Naarm (Melbourne), Australia. She is the host of Steph’s Business Bookshelf, a weekly podcast where she shares three big ideas she’s learnt from the business books she’s read.