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Seven Essential Books Every Entrepreneur Should Read This Year


Barnaby Lashbrooke

Founder and CEO of Time etc, author of The Hard Work Myth

7 minute read

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Whether you’re starting a new venture, struggling with a problem, or looking for inspiration and guidance, sometimes there’s no better way to learn than to read the experiences of someone who has already been there.

If you haven’t already, these are the books that I believe every entrepreneur should add to their reading list this year…

"Tool of Titans" by Tim Ferriss

From Jack Dorsey to Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sophia Amoruso to Amelia Boone, have you ever wondered what makes these people tick? Well, you’re not alone. "Tools of Titans", the fifth book by entrepreneur and bestselling author Tim Ferris, is the result of a series of interviews with over 100 world-class athletes, business moguls, and various other individuals who are icons in their field.

Each “titan” shares their daily habits, tactics, and routines, so you can “borrow liberally, combine uniquely, and create your own bespoke blueprint” to maximize your own success.

If you’re thinking that the lives of these aspirational men and women are completely unattainable, in other words, “Why should I bother?”, Ferriss is keen for us to bear in mind that these “titans” are not superheroes. “(They) are nearly all walking flaws who’ve maximized 1 or 2 strengths. Humans are imperfect creatures. You don’t ‘succeed’ because you have no weaknesses; you succeed because you find your unique strengths and focus on developing habits around them.”

With over 100 profiles, that’s a lot of tips and tactics to take on board, but the easily-digestible length, structure, and layout make it ideal for a quick pick-up whenever you’re in need of some inspiration.

"The Hard Work Myth" by Barnaby Lashbrooke

If the author’s name sounds familiar, I’ll admit, this book was written by yours truly!

“Anything is possible if you work hard enough”, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”, “Go hard or go home”, how many times have you heard, or even said, these words throughout your life? They all contribute to the Hard Work Myth - the notion that hard work equals success, we can achieve more simply by working harder. But this simply isn’t the case.

How do I know this? At one point I was racking up 100+ hours working in my business each week. If “anything is possible if you work hard enough” were true, my business should have been a roaring success, right? In reality, my mental and physical health, personal relationships, and business all suffered severely. Something had to give. It was only after I realized the true value of my time and mastered simple techniques on how to achieve more while working less, that everything turned around. I now work four days a week, and my award-winning business has grown to eight figures of annual revenue.

Inside "The Hard Work Myth", you’ll find all the techniques that I use to help make all this possible, including how to beat distractions, how to increase your self-awareness, how to delegate successfully, and how to build the most effective structures and routines to maximize your productivity.

If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, achieve your goals, and have plenty of time to watch your kids grow up and devote to nurturing your friendships and relationships, give The Hard Work Myth a shot.

"F**K Plan B" by Dominic Monkhouse

Dominic Monkhouse is one of the top tech industry coaches in the UK, with over 2,700 businesses that have benefitted immensely from his expertise. If business growth is your top priority, "F**K Plan B" allows you to tap into Monkhouse’s goldmine of knowledge and apply his tried-and-tested strategies to your own business.

Based on ideas and insights from industry experts and a great deal of trial and error, the methods shared in this book are what Monkhouse has used to help scale a multitude of award-winning businesses to great success.

Packed with straightforward, actionable insights, including a 10-point plan for scaling up your business plus advice on how to execute it, "F**K Plan B" is perfect for any and all entrepreneurs wanting to take their business to the next level.

"The E-Myth Revisited" by Michael Gerber

Why do small businesses fail? While there is no definitive, one-size-fits-all explanation, you might be surprised by the answers.

Based on years of experience as a small business consultant, Michael E. Gerber’s bestselling book "The E-Myth Revisited" explores many common assumptions made in starting businesses that tend to produce unsuccessful results.

While the “life of a business” might not be a brand-new concept to any self-respecting entrepreneur, Gerber’s guided journey through entrepreneurial infancy to adolescent growing pains and mature entrepreneurship is well worth the read. He discusses how to apply the lessons of franchising and provides crucial information that everyone can use when looking to start their own business. But he doesn’t stop there—Gerber also helps you understand how to get back to the core of what it means to be an entrepreneur within your already-existing business, which is often overlooked.

Whether you are a seasoned entrepreneur or just starting out, there is much to be gained from this book.

"The Choice Factory" by Richard Shotton

When you make a decision, what influences your choice? You might think the answer is pretty cut and dry, but the truth is, there are a great deal more social and psychological factors at play than you may realize. And how do businesses use these to encourage you to buy their products?

For business owners and customers alike, "The Choice Factory" is quite a powerful read. It highlights the all factors that encourage customers to buy a particular service or product and positively impact their decisions.

With a strong focus on behavioral science and 25 chapters each addressing a different cognitive bias, you’d be forgiven for assuming this might be one of the drier or more heavy-going books on this list, but this certainly isn’t the case. Its clear (and entertaining!) format makes it easy to understand and apply these principles to your business and overcome any marketing challenges. A must-read for modern marketers, this is a great book for anyone wanting to harness the power of behavioral economics for their advertising strategy.

"Alchemy: The Surprising Power of Ideas That Don't Make Sense" by Rory Sutherland

“The problem with logic is that it kills off magic”, Rory Sutherland’s sixth rule of alchemy and, some might argue, the whole theme of the book condensed into one sentence.

Another book that takes an entertaining look at human behavior, "Alchemy: The Surprising Power of Ideas That Don't Make Sense" highlights a major myth in our society: that humans are rational.

An expert on advertising and consumer behavior, Sutherland believes that bypassing reasoning can be beneficial in influencing people's choices, and can even be the source of excellent ideas. He suggests that ideas that don't make sense often lead to reactions or feelings beyond anyone's expectations, and even founded his own advertising company Ogilvy to look for counter-intuitive solutions to problems. He says “The big problems we face every day, whether as an individual or in society, could very well be solved by thinking less logically.”

This book offers a refreshing perspective on human behavior and encourages you to be creative and think outside the box, which is vital for any business to thrive.

"Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products" by Nir Eyal

If you’ve ever wondered what makes certain products so addictive, "Hooked: How to Build Habit-forming Products" is an essential read for you.

From the iPhone to Twitter, Eyal uses years of research, consulting, and practical experience to explore the secrets of what makes customers and users keep coming back for more. Mainly, the Hook Model and “hook cycles”.

Full of practical insights and real-world examples, this book is a holy grail for designers, product managers, and marketers alike.

Final Thoughts

To be successful in business, entrepreneurs need to be constantly learning. As such, reading is one of the most important habits you can develop. As I wrote in The Hard Work Myth, “Successful people don’t read to be entertained - that’s a bonus - they read to educate themselves, to deepen their knowledge and be educated.” The right books can open your mind to a whole host of new ideas, as well as enhance your knowledge, help you make better decisions, and improve your business in ways you couldn’t have imagined.

Luckily, there’s no short supply of excellent resources that can help you in these ways. The books I’ve listed above have all provided me with invaluable insights and inspiration that have greatly benefitted me and my business, but I encourage you to keep searching beyond this list to find more tips and techniques that resonate with you, you can never have too much.

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About the author

Barnaby Lashbrooke is the founder and CEO of Virtual Assistant service Time etc as well as the author of The Hard Work Myth, recently recommended by Sir Richard Branson. Barnaby is a Forbes Columnist on productivity and is also an accomplished entrepreneur, selling more than $35 million worth of services.

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