With 517,210 companies formed in the UK in 2013 and even more expected to have formed in 2014, one might get carried away and say that the age of the entrepreneur has returned.
Tech cities are popping up all over the place, alternative sources of funding are starting to spring up, and it seems like everyone has an idea to market. But an idea is just the start and, despite how easy it is to incorporate a limited liability company, truly getting off the ground can be quite hard.
So for those who are beyond moonlighting and are ready to take the plunge, or for those who have taken the plunge already and need a bit of a boost, we’ve pulled together this list of books that will give you a new perspective on everything from product design and marketing to business plans and networking.
6. Marketing in the Age of Google by Vanessa Fox
In the digital age your business will thrive or dive depending on how well you market yourself and, more importantly, how easy it is to find you online – particularly in relation to the industry terms for what you do. Hence the need for Vanessa Fox’s Marketing in the Age of Google, which is a great introduction to search engine optimisation, SEO for short.
What is great about this book is that Vanessa discusses more than just the basics of SEO – she also covers how it fits into the wider marketing and business strategies your company will need to develop and survive.
5. Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug
With all of the additional traffic to your website that you should receive from reading Marketing in the Age of Google and having worked on your SEO and marketing strategies, it’s time to look at what visitors do once they reach your site and how you can convert browsers to buyers.
Enter Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think, which examines what it takes to get people to buy.
Steve makes conversion optimisation simple and you’ll return to his book time and time again to pick out bits and pieces for further optimisation.
4. Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder
If you’ve not taken the time to write out your business plan then I suggest putting everything on hold, reading this book and doing so as soon as possible.
The brilliance of this simple-to-follow business plan guide is that it helps you look at your business as if doing so from the outside. Strip back all of the hype you’ve given the business and get back to the core of what is going to make it work in a very competitive environment.
And what’s more, it’s good to revisit your business plan from time to time as your business develops, the market changes, and new opportunities and threats present themselves.
3. Show Me The Money: How to Find the Cash to Get Your Business Off the Ground by Alan Barrell
At some point in time you will need to raise capital in order to start or grow your business, so let this book be your guide to evaluating your business, determining what stage you are at, when you will need investment, and how much you should raise.
This book covers the various forms of finance available, ranging from banks and government initiatives to private angel investor networks.
2. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
If you’ve read Clayton Christensen, Geoffrey Moore or Steve Blank then you will find that Ries writes in a very similar fashion and is more evolutionary than revolutionary with his book, The Lean Startup. However, it is a great evolution and the book is worth reading regardless of whether or not you have read the others.
Ries believes in keeping things simple and he has made the term minimal viable product (MVP) the go-to phrase for companies just starting out.
1. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
No matter how you look at it, you’re going to need to learn how to network and how to communicate effectively with all of the different types of people you come into contact with while starting your business.
Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People is the go-to source for building and maintaining your network, and ensuring your business dealings always remain positive.
Bonus*: As entrepreneurs, we are also salesmen and saleswomen, and that often means we need to phone people who we’ve never spoken with. If that thought scares the living daylights out of you, or if you could simply do with some work in this area, try Stephan Schiffman’s Cold Calling Techniques: That Really Work.