5 Books Every Entrepreneur Must Read

By David Mizne

Entrepreneurship is not for everyone.

It takes courage to create a company from scratch, and strength to hold yourself and others accountable to succeed. Entrepreneurs must be adept at enrolling investors and customers in their vision, and at inspiring employees to see things through.

Chief among the values of successful entrepreneurs is the willingness to learn and grow constantly. Some of that organically arises through doing what entrepreneurs do – iterating and innovating on product development, marketing, and sales. It also means that they have to be voracious readers.

Below are 5 books that provide insights into the many aspects of entrepreneurship including managing and motivating employees as your company grows.

1. Tribes, We Need You to Lead Us

by Seth Godin

In this quick read, Godin unabashedly challenges the fear and mediocrity that allows the world to remain stagnant. He fiercely lauds the curiosity that ignites leaders to create, the bravery that fuels their risk-taking, and their unwavering support to their tribe and its mission.

“When you hire amazing people and give them freedom, they do amazing stuff. And the sheepwalkers (obedient people driven by fear to perform brain-dead jobs) and their bosses watch and shake their heads, certain that this is an exception and that it is way too risky for their industry or their customer base.”

The most inspiring idea, product, or service is nothing without people who will help create it and spread the message. Leaders nurture movements by challenging what exists, by communicating their vision for the future, and by empowering their tribes to broadcast that vision far and wide.

2. The Culture Blueprint

by Robert Richman

So you are an inspiring and charismatic leader and your tribe is growing. How does that translate into creating and maintaining a high-performance culture?

According to Richman, leaders set the standard with their vision and values, but culture is actually created through the right language and dialogue. People don’t respond well to being told what to do. A higher leverage approach than command and control, is to share inspiring stories and expectations and a clear understanding about what is required of everyone at the company.

This book is a step-by-step guide to creating systems that will scale a great workplace as the company grows. It is a blueprint for maintaining high engagement and morale, and imbuing everyone at the company with a sense of ownership.

3. Reinventing Organizations

by Frederic Laloux

Think you know everything there is to know about organizational structure? Think again. As the subtitle suggests – A Guide to Creating Organizations Inspired by the Next Stage of Human Consciousness – this book may just blow your mind.

Laloux breaks down all organizations into color categories; red, amber, orange, green, and teal. Red organizations like the mafia are highly volatile as the chief must always keep every member in-line. Amber is like the military, with top-down command and control in a rigid hierarchy. Orange organizations are profit and growth oriented and are highly competitive.

By contrast, the green paradigm seeks fairness, community, cooperation and consensus. There is no rigid hierarchy, and subordinates are empowered and motivated to become leaders in their own right. People in these organizations are led via a set of values and are motivated by a deep desire to fulfill the company vision. If this sounds fascinating, just wait until you get to the part about teal organizations…

Why is this important? Because every model achieves outcomes that the previous model could not even consider, and effectiveness increases dramatically with each stage of development. But different models all have their place and leaders must determine which model is best suited to helping them reach their company objectives. For example, the holocratic green organization could be useful for a tech startup but disastrous in a military campaign.

4. Copy Logic! The New Science of Producing Breakthrough Copy (Without Criticism)

by Michael Masterson and Mike Palmer

Ok, arguably not every entrepreneur is actively involved with creating product messaging, but every entrepreneur knows that it’s vital. If you can’t succinctly explain what your offering is and target people on an emotional level, no one will give your product a second look. The problem? Entrepreneurs also know that a collaborative meeting to create copy can quickly devolve into an unproductive nightmare of bruised egos and disagreement.

The Copy Logic system takes what could be a messy process and makes it clean and fluid. The writer assembles 4 to 6 people from different company teams to evaluate the messaging. Everyone rates it on a numeric scale.  A low score means that the copy makes you want to run screaming from the room. A high score means that you love it and can’t wait to read more.

Now here comes the best part. People are not allowed to make vague, time-wasting comments like “that resonates with me” or “that sucks”. Instead they may offer a different suggestion and then the group votes again. The copy with the highest average score wins!

5. The 4 Disciplines of Execution

by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling

What is more important, the hundreds of things that you do every week to keep the business running (what the authors call the whirlwind), or the wildly important goals (WIGs) that really move the business forward? Both are critical, but in many businesses the WIGs are often subsumed by the whirlwind.

Wondering how to develop your WIG? Ask yourself this question:

“If every other area of our operation remained at its current level of performance, what is the one area where change would have the greatest impact?”

Everyone at the company must be committed to these clearly articulated goals. They must know what to do to achieve them, measure their performance, and hold themselves accountable. The book beautifully outlines the entire process including how to develop lead measures and set-up meetings for each team to create a cadence of accountability.

No book can answer all of the questions that entrepreneurs have regarding performance and success, and results will not change without dedication to the process learned. The books discussed here are powerful tools that have influenced individual and team success at 15Five, and my hope is that they can do the same for your organization.

Image Credit: Zhao!

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