Attention, small business owners! Whether you’re an up-and-comer or an old dog in search of new tricks, cracking a book is often the first step on the road to newfound success. Here are five books every entrepreneur should read in 2016.
1. Stand Out by Dorie Clark
In “Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It,” Dorie Clark looks at what it takes to make a name for yourself in today’s business world. It’s no longer enough to quietly excel at your job; to be considered an expert you need a unique, attention-grabbing perspective that inspires others to take action.
According to Dorie, “Most recognized experts achieved success not because of some special genius, but because they learned how to put disparate elements together and present ideas in a new and meaningful way.”
Author Ryan Holiday says, “This isn’t another book about marketing. It’s a book about how to develop an idea and a voice powerful enough to deserve a powerful following and real influence. It’s about how to stand out in the ways that matter.”
And that’s what makes this a must-read book for small business owners — if you want to add “industry thought leader and influencer” to your resume, you have to know how to stand out from the competition.
2. The Customer Manifesto by Pamela Herrmann
In “The Customer Manifesto: How Business Has Failed Customers and What It Takes to Earn Their Loyalty,” Pamela Herrmann looks at the disconnect between how businesses and customers interpret customer service efforts.
“This book provides best practices from the highest-rated businesses in hospitality and insights from enterprise-level companies that have invested billions of dollars to improve the customer experience,” says Pamela. “We are bringing these best practices to the small, local business owners so that they can quickly, easily and affordably learn how to create an exceptional experience with every action, reaction, interaction and transaction.”
“You would think that a business owner wouldn’t have to be reminded that you need to treat the customer right … but they do. In the age of social media reviews and word of mouth on steroids via Facebook and Twitter, bad customer experiences spread like wildfire,” says Amazon reviewer Martin McDonald. “Pamela does a wonderful job outlining the basics of a great customer experience and how the little things go a LONG way in creating brand/customer loyalty. Everyone in business should have this book.”
We agree with Martin. It’s the little things that make the difference, and Pamela’s take on customer service is worth exploring.
3. Content Inc. by Joe Pulizzi
Joe Pulizzi’s “Content Inc.: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses” flips the traditional product-first formula of business upside down.
“Through a lovely accident, I stumbled on a powerful way to build a business in the digital age — and now believe there is no better way to go to market,” says Joe. “By focusing on building an audience first and defining products and services second, an entrepreneur can change the rules of the game and significantly increase the odds of financial and personal success.”
Small Business Trends’ Ivana Taylor recommends “Content Inc.” for small business owners, brick and mortar stores, online experts, manufacturers and industrial companies. “Believe it or not, the more you think you can’t benefit, the more this book will show you how you can leverage content to build a profitable audience.”
We’re with Ivana on this one. Not only does Joe lay out a step-by-step guide to content marketing, but he also provides practical examples from a variety of industries. There’s something for everyone here!
4. Reclaiming Conversation by Sherry Turkle
In “Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age,” Sherry Turkle looks at how our current focus on technology is undermining our relationships, creativity and productivity.
Author Douglas Rushkoff says, “Digital media were supposed to turn us from passive viewers to interactive participants, but Turkle reveals how genuine human interaction may be the real casualty of supposedly social technologies. Without conversation, there is no syntax, no literacy, no genuine collaboration, no empathy, no civilization. With courage and compassion, Turkle shows how the true promise of social media would be to reacquaint us with the lost art of making meaning together.”
“Among family and friends, among colleagues and lovers, we turn to our phones instead of each other,” says Sherry. “We readily admit we would rather send an electronic message or mail than commit to a face-to-face meeting or a telephone call.”
Sherry’s got it right. How many times have you chosen to email a client rather than take a meeting or make a simple phone call? But as great as email and social media may be for communicating with your audience, there are times when clients need — and deserve — something more personal.
5. How the World Sees You by Sally Hogshead
In “How the World Sees You: Discover Your Highest Value Through the Science of Fascination,” Sally Hogshead helps you identify and embrace your own unique personality traits and explains how being your authentic self can help you create better relationships and grow your business.
“Throughout your career, you will compete against people who are more established, more famous, more connected, more specialized. But they can’t be you. They can’t capture your highest distinct value. Only you have you,” says Sally. “Who you are is the greatest differentiator you’ve ever had.”
According to Forbes contributor Nick Morgan, “Sally’s system has created a juggernaut of insight into how we work, play and relate as our best selves. You can increase your business success, make yourself more fascinating to your mate of choice, and find your highest and best use on the planet.”
Is it any wonder that “How the World Sees You” is on our list of books every entrepreneur should read? And if you’d like to take Sally’s diagnostic test for free, Nick’s article includes a link and special code!
In putting this list together, we’ve tried to include a little bit of everything, books with broad concepts and more actionable, to-the-point ideas. But we know this list is just the tip of the iceberg. So how about it? You’re a small business owner. Read any good books lately? We’d love to hear your suggestions!