The approaching new year is the ideal time for business owners to revisit their learnings and seek out new inspiration, heed advice and absorb pearls of wisdom from those who have conquered in business.
Whether it be strategic business books or real-life stories - learning from others' failures and successes can help to shape the business person you want to be.
As Christmas gets closer, we spoke to business owners to find out which business books would make it onto their must-read book list - for anyone looking to start a new business or hoping to inject a fresh lease of life into their current ways of working in 2018.
The Four Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss
Ellie Wharton, founder of award-winning health tea brand, Positivitea: "It was not necessarily the content of this book that I liked, but the sentiment it conveyed – quite simply that anything is possible if you put your mind to it! The Four Hour Work Week empowered me to finally take the leap of faith off the corporate ladder that my instincts had been telling me to do for a long time.
"Not only did it encourage me to leave the rat race but to do it with gusto, as if it was actually the only sensible and rational thing to do at that point in my career, and with many case studies of successful entrepreneurs to support the case for starting your own business, I'd barely finished it before I'd made my decision to do so.
"There are many useful entrepreneurial tools weaved through the pages of this motivational book - optimised time management, outsourcing, expanding time with meditation, the 80/20 rule and Parkinson's Law to name a but a few. It's full of inspirational gems."
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
Liz Willingham, owner of PR agency, Liz Lean PR: "This book focuses the mind and teaches you how to stop it wandering – by being present. This helps relationship-building, which is at the core of everything we do in PR and communications. We are in a busy and fast-paced environment and anything which allows us to de-stress and remain creative adds value to our work every day."
Jab, jab, jab, right hook by Gary Vaynerchuk
Kevin Latouf, founder of organic wine subscription service, The Wine Butler: "This book is all about giving value to your customers before you ask them if they'd like to buy something from you. This book gave me a super clear understanding of the best ways to build an audience - to sell by not selling. In essence the book translates as 'give, give, give, then ask'.
"Right now, I try not to bombard my audience with products and I try not to sell to them on a daily basis. Instead what I do is give value by showing my audience things they didn't know. For me, that's about wines, winemakers, regions and how to get the most out of wines you're drinking. I want my audience to feel like they're taking away something from every post, video and blog."
Lean in by Sheryl Sandberg
Charly Lester, co-founder of online female business platform, A League of Her Own: "This book is a real call to action for any woman in business wanting to achieve more. Some of the examples and anecdotes are really eye-opening, and show that successful women face very different challenges compared to successful men. As a female entrepreneur, this book made me want to step up and 'lean in'. Sheryl is an inspiration to women in business, she's achieved so much (even before her time at Facebook) and this book inspired an entire movement.
"I think this book also justified the way I had felt in certain business situations. Reading the book made me realise I wasn't being paranoid, and made me reframe some of the situations I've been in. It has also made me even more motivated to change the way that we treat women and men in business. The idea that girls get branded 'bossy' while boys are encouraged to take the lead is sad and something that needs to change."
Bounce by Matthew Syed
Elliot Bulley, owner of personal training company, Go Hard Go Home: "This book actually inspired me to go back to university and do a masters. There's a nature and nurture themed section on being surrounded by the right people, be it team-mates or competitors, at the right time - I cross-related this to networking and pursuing goals throughout life and business. It's about self-belief and visualisation and, of course, practice, practice, practice. Learning from mistakes and adapting to move forwards."
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
India Sellars, co-owner of specialist British bridesmaid brand, Maids to Measure: "This is an easy read - short, concise and based on a simple foundation: you cannot change other people, you can only change the way you relate to them. The best thing about this book is that it's versatile, works in both a personal and work setting and ultimately it's timeless. It teaches you to bring people round to your way of thinking through subtle conversational techniques - this is a powerful skill, especially in sales, when negotiating with customers and suppliers."
Rework by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson
Imogen Wethered, co-founder of customer experience management cloud platform, Qudini: "A punchy and easy to digest book with advice on how to do things differently when starting a business. The advice is contrary to a lot of the typical advice you might hear, it had a lot of examples of things that people did well or badly as a result of following traditional/mainstream methods. I found this inspiring because it enabled me to start out realising that there is so much conflicting advice, so sometimes it's best just to take the action that you think works best for you."
Simple, Logical, Repeatable by Marianne Page
Alison Shadrack, founder and ceo of public and media relations agency, Adia PR: "This book helped me realise that the sooner I put even simple systems in place in my business, the quicker I could build a high performing team around me who would follow the systems to our exacting high standards. Marianne is quite simply the systems guru, having spent years working for McDonald's in senior management. Whether you like its food or not, McDonald's is renowned for its consistency, reliability and team-building. I know I'll be referring back to this book on a yearly basis."
Losing My Virginity by Sir Richard Branson
Phil Smith, celebrity hairdresser and businessman at top salon, Phil Smith Hair: "I found this book immensely inspiring, and re-read it a few years ago to refresh myself with all the wealth and knowledge Sir Richard had to share. It was particularly inspiring as it shows how you can build something massive from a tiny idea. If you stick with your dream, stay loyal to your brand and believe in it, then in turn your customer will believe in it too. Businesses can be lost in a flash and it's important you roll up your sleeves and work harder than you ever have. It's a long journey to build success, but you have to find time to enjoy this new chapter, and the route you take to get there."
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