As the year starts to get into its stride, get a jolt of inspiration and fresh ideas to drive your business forward. These great books will soon have your motivation returning and your mind racing!
Phew. Finally, the days are getting longer, and winter is coming to an end. We're all starting to thaw out, feel the sun on our faces, and worry about the energy bills a little less. In short, Spring is almost here, and with it comes a feeling of renewal.
In this light, many of us are feeling the urge to declutter and refresh various areas of our lives. And this seasonal shift can be especially motivating for entrepreneurs and small business owners who've made it through a tough period and have lived to fight another day.
To help you out, we've spotted several fantastic books that can help supercharge your creative business in 2023. From tips on staying sharp and focused to advice on effective decision-making and positive change, these tomes offer a wealth of insights and inspiration. Here are six of our most highly recommended titles to consider adding to your reading list this Spring.
1. Stolen Focus: The Surprising Reason You Can't Pay Attention by Johann Hari
Are you losing concentration and finding it difficult to focus? According to author Johann Hari, you're not alone: the average office worker now focuses on any one task for just three minutes. Yet this is not a personal failing but a reflection of how the modern world has robbed us of our attention.
That's partly down to how tech giants like Google and Facebook battle for our attention, but it could also be about poor diet, pollution and lack of exercise. Thankfully, there are strategies you can employ to get it back. In this book, Johann Hari outlines 12 factors harming our focus; once you understand them, she promises, you can take back your mind.
Hari's research and insights are backed by a wealth of scientific evidence and real-world examples, making this book an accessible and engaging read. Throughout the book, he provides a range of practical tips and exercises for improving your attention and focus, from mindfulness meditation to setting boundaries with technology and optimising your work environment. He also highlights the importance of community and social connection in supporting mental health and well-being.
2. How to Grow Your Small Business: A 6-Step Plan to Help Your Business Take Off by Donald Miller
One of the biggest problems of starting a small business is that it quickly becomes overwhelming. When you're an employee or even just a jobbing freelancer, there are so many things that your boss or client invisibly takes care of, from business admin to tax and legal issues. When you set up your own shop, suddenly everything's down to you, and it can be difficult to know how to fit it all in.
This handy book provides an easy-to-understand framework to help you manage everything. Author Donald Miller draws from his own experience as the founder of StoryBrand, a marketing consulting firm, to provide a step-by-step approach that is easy to understand and implement.
It's organised into six core principles that are essential for successful growth: clarifying your message, building a sales funnel, generating leads, increasing customer value, optimising processes, and creating a growth plan. Each principle is broken down into actionable steps that can be customised to fit the specific needs of your business.
Miller's approach emphasises the importance of creating a clear and compelling brand message that resonates with your target audience. He provides practical advice for creating effective marketing materials, developing a sales funnel, and generating leads through various channels. And he also offers insights into increasing customer lifetime value through effective pricing and customer service strategies.
3. Fall in Love With The Problem: A Handbook for Entrepreneurs by Uri Levine
Unicorns – companies with a valuation of more than $1 billion – are rare. Uri Levine has built two: Waze, a commuting navigation app which Google bought for $1.15 billion, and Moovit, a public transport planner app. In this book, he explains how he did it, and it's a fascinating story.
But it's not just a case of an entrepreneur boasting about his success. The author draws from his own experience to provide practical tips and strategies for entrepreneurs at all stages of their journey. And the book's central message is that successful entrepreneurs don't fall in love with their own ideas or solutions but instead with the problems they are trying to solve.
Levine argues that by becoming obsessed with identifying and understanding problems from the customer's perspective, entrepreneurs can create truly innovative and impactful solutions. He provides tools for identifying and prioritising problems, as well as advice for developing and testing potential solutions. Along the way, you'll find practical insights into effective teamwork, product development, marketing, and scaling.
4. Good Power: Leading Positive Change in Our Lives, Work, and World by Ginni Rometty
Many people go into business because they want to make a better world. And if that includes you, then here's a great source of fresh ideas and inspiration. In a brilliant combination of personal memoir and leadership lessons Ginni Rometty, the former CEO of IBM, shares her insights into how we can all drive meaningful change.
It's organised into three core themes: personal power, team power, and societal power. Each section provides a range of examples and case studies of individuals and organisations that have successfully used their power to effect positive change, as well as practical advice and tools for developing and utilising power in a constructive way.
Throughout the book, Rometty emphasises the importance of empathy, resilience, and continuous learning in effective leadership. She also highlights the critical role of diversity, equity, and inclusion in building strong and effective teams and provides insights into how leaders can cultivate these values in their organisations. With an approach that's grounded in real-world experience and backed by a deep understanding of the complex issues facing modern leaders, this book provides valuable insights and tools for harnessing the power of good in your business.
5. Zero to One: Notes on Start-ups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel
Want to be a disruptor? Then here's your Bible. Author Peter Thiel is a co-founder of PayPal and Palantir and an early investor in companies like Facebook and SpaceX. And in his book, he challenges conventional thinking about innovation and entrepreneurship and provides practical insights into how to build a successful startup.
Thiel overriding belief is that true innovation involves creating something entirely new rather than just improving upon what already exists. To help you do this in practice, he provides a framework for identifying and pursuing what he calls "zero to one" opportunities: those that involve creating something entirely new.
A range of related topics is covered, from the importance of building a strong team and creating a unique value proposition, to the role of technology and the importance of focusing on a specific niche. Thiel also offers insights into the challenges of scaling a startup.
6. Start Stay or Leave: The Art of Decision Making by Trey Gowdy
We make decisions every time, and often they're life-defining. But there aren't many books that explain how to do so. Here's a notable exception by Trey Gowdy, a former US Congressman and federal prosecutor.
In this clear and easy-to-follow book, Gowdy draws upon his experience as a prosecutor and lawmaker to give the reader practical advice and tools for making tough decisions. He emphasises the importance of understanding one's values and priorities and provides questions to help readers identify and clarify their goals.
The book covers a range of decision-making scenarios, from choosing a career path to navigating personal relationships and dealing with difficult colleagues. The author provides examples from his own life and career to illustrate the decision-making process in practice and offers insights into the role of intuition and emotions in decision-making.