7 Books Every Entrepreneur Should Read

Books Open

Business Model Generation

Alexander Osterwalder

In this book, readers learn to create new business models as traditional models are being disrupted in today’s market. Every entrepreneur should take the time to read this in order to gain a competitive advantage over the business market.

 

Outliers

Malcolm Gladwell

“Outliers” is Gladwell’s third best seller and, in it, he describes how both hard work and luck have a part in success. Gladwell is credited with the idea that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to create a genius.

 

From Resource Allocation to Strategy

Joseph Bower

This book is a comprehensive guide on how typical organizations run. “From Resource Allocation to Strategy” pulls from decades of research from some of the world’s most prestigious business school in order to explain how to develop an effective corporate strategy as well as prevent breakdowns in your business’s system.

 

The Zigzag Principle

by Rich Christiansen

“The Zigzag Principle” focuses on teaching readers to ignore your inner voice that urges you to charge on full steam toward your end goal. Instead, Christiansen describes his perspective in which a person should “zigzag” around obstacles, but still maintain the course set before him to try to reach the ultimate goal.

 

Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Peter Drucker

Although this selection may be considered somewhat dated, the ideas presented in this 1980’s best-seller are still quite relevant in today’s market. As one of the top management thinkers of his generation, Drucker offers his invaluable insights to all aspiring business owners. Drucker explains the key elements involved in innovation and draws from real-world examples in order to show how these innovations were executed in the past.

 

All Marketers are Liars

Seth Godin

In this book, Godin describes his philosophy: that the key to marketing is telling a story. If a marketer is a good storyteller, consumers will go on to repeat the story to other consumers, and everyone will eventually accept this story’s contents as reality. He does stress, however, that without authenticity, the story will never come to the point of reality

 

Delivering Happiness

Tony Hsieh

Tony Hsieh is the CEO of Zappos. In “Delivering Happiness,” he offers information on how he created his consumer base and molded his corporation’s brand for success. The book is focused around Zappos, but many of the ideas seen throughout its pages are applicable to any small, startup business that is looking to create a loyal customer base.

Social Media Small Biz power

Social media can be a great budget-friendly alternative to buying an expensive website and in today’s market can actually be more effective. But, what’s the best way to hop on the social media bandwagon? Here are a few quick tips to help you get started.

Social Media Keyboard Small Business

Sign up on a social media website

Before you can do anything else, you must first become a member of some form of social media. There are many, many options, and you can start with just one, or you can sign up for them all. But be careful not to sign up for more than you can handle. You don’t want to join too many websites and forget to keep your accounts up-to-date. Facebook and Twitter are great options, or you can use Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn. The choice is yours.

 

Think about your customers

This kind of goes hand-in-hand with #1, depending on who your customers are or who you are trying to reach. For example, if you’re looking to attract teenagers, sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are great options. If you’re looking to attract a more professional crowd, try LinkedIn.

 

Hire someone to manage your account

Especially if you’re new to the social media world, it’s probably not going to be the easiest thing to handle on top of running your business. Hire someone to set up your pages, request friends, find followers, etc. Or, if you don’t want to hire on an extra person to do the work, you can sing up for sites such as Ping.fm and HootSuite that allow you to manage all of your accounts from one website and schedule messages to appear to your friends and followers at times that you designate. Some sites even offer analytic tools so that you can keep track of what’s working and what’s not.

 

Keep your content up-to-date

If you forget to post something for a couple of days, it’s no big deal. But, if you start regularly forgetting to list your new products or promote your new sales, your social media account isn’t going to do much good. In fact, it might even harm your business. If potential customers log in to browse your site and see that you haven’t updated in months, they’re likely to search for a similar business with more up-to-date information.

How to Create a Company Culture for Your Small Business

We normally think of company culture in terms of larger companies, but it can be just as important for your small business as well. And don’t worry; you won’t have to break the bank!

company culture smiling faces employees

What is company culture?

If you aren’t familiar with the term, company culture can be thought of as your business’s personality. Your company’s culture plays a role in determining how you, your employees and your customers perceive your business. A good company culture will sustain an atmosphere that encourages employees to come to work and enjoy the time spent. However, a poor company culture can be detrimental as your employees will not likely wish to continue to work in a negative environment.

 

How do I create my company culture?

The first thing that comes to mind for employers looking to create a better work environment is amenities. While food and drinks are important in creating a happy work environment, they surely aren’t everything, and they don’t have to be expensive. Coffee is a staple in most offices, and small snacks here and there don’t have to cost you a fortune. What’s more important is how you present yourself to and interact with your employees.

 

Workers thrive in an environment with a supportive, caring employer. If you are always negative and looking for something to criticize, your employees will likely avoid you and dread the days that you stay in the office. Instead, give helpful suggestions and constructive criticism. But be careful; this doesn’t mean that you should be lax with your rules or let your employees get away with murder. You should always be respected by your employees as their boss.

company culture word cloud friendly relaxed dynamic openHiring to fit your company culture

Which of your current employees would you consider your top-performer, and why? What makes him or her successful? Why can you not afford to lose that person? Write down your responses to these questions and review them carefully. This is the type of personality you’re looking for when hiring new employees. Your newly-hired employees should add to, or at least sustain your company culture, not detract from it.

 

And finally, consider drafting a mission statement for your company. Most large, successful businesses have a mission statement in place that serves as the company’s guideline. Your mission statement outlines who you are as a company, your business focus, your company policies and values, etc. But this is not something that can or should be drafted up in ten minutes. Think carefully about what you want this mission to portray, jot down some ideas, and go from there.

3 No-Brainers for Cutting Your Business Costs

Feeling a bit overwhelmed by the cost of running your business? There are many ways that you can cut cost without sacrificing quality. Here are a few quick tips that you may not have considered in the past.

Use the Internet for free advertisement

In this day, it is nearly impossible to run a business without using the Internet in some form or fashion. However, owning your own website can be expensive. After paying for a creative, professional web design, hosting and other associated fees, you can start feeling a bit discouraged. But take heart, it doesn’t have to be so expensive! Try using sites such as WordPress that offer easy-to-maneuver templates for a one-time fee along with a cheap monthly hosting bill from partners such as GoDaddy.com. Or, if you don’t want the hassle of a website, try using social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Believe it or not, these can be just as, if not more, effective than professional .com websites!

 

Get rid of the office bill

This may or may not be an option for your business, but think about it if you believe it may be a reasonable possibility. Many successful businesses can be run from home or from very small office suites. If you spend most of your time on the phone or the computer, would an in-home office be just as effective as paying monthly rent in the local shopping center?

 

Be smart about buying your office supplies

Some office supplies may not appear too expensive when buying them one-by-one, but the cost does add up over time. Printer cartridges, for example, can be an expensive investment. Try searching Google for a supplier of recycled printer cartridges. And computer software programs can be even more expensive! Check out Download.com to browse the hundreds of freeware, free trial, and limited version options available. This option may not work if your business requires all the features of some of these programs, but it’s worth checking in to. And finally, electronic equipment doesn’t have to be so costly. Instead of buying brand new equipment from your local Office Depot or Best Buy, try searching online for used products. A little known secret: when manufacturers resell previously used products, they must physically test each item before it is resold, unlike brand new merchandise which is often machine-tested and not checked for small glitches. Plus, you save tons of cash!

Hiring Freelancers to Help Your Business

What is a freelance worker?

Individuals can choose to become freelancers for a variety of reasons. Maybe they work as full-time freelancers, or maybe they’re just trying to earn some extra cash on the side. Maybe they’re stay-at-home parents looking to earn some additional income to support a family. Maybe they’re in-between jobs. No matter the reason, freelance workers can be beneficial for almost any company. And a survey done by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2005 reported that independent contractors made up approximately 7.5% of the U.S. labor force.

Types of freelance workers

Independent contractors: The job description of these workers is defined by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service as follows: “A general rule is that you, the payer, have the right to control or direct only the result of the work done by an independent contractor, and not the means and methods of accomplishing the result.” In sum, you pay them to complete a specific job function and they choose how they would like to go about it.

Help Agency Workers: These freelance workers are typically classified as temporary and are paid by a help agency.

On-Call Workers: The BLS defines these freelancers as “workers called to work only as needed, although they can be scheduled to work for several days or weeks in a row.”

Contract Firm-Provided Workers: The BLS defines these individuals as “workers employed by a company that provides them or their services to others under contract and who are usually assigned to only one customer and usually work at the customer’s worksite.”

 

What do freelance workers do?

Some businesses choose to hire freelance workers to complete projects that don’t necessarily merit the work of a full-time employee. These types of projects may include something long-term, or they may be geared more toward a labor-oriented task. Common types of freelance work include blog writing, web design, computer programming, office administration and consulting.

 

How do you hire a freelance worker?

Before you dive into hiring a freelance worker, you need to be familiar with the field and have a specific idea of the type of person you are looking for. Although you aren’t hiring a full-time employee, you still want to be sure that the job you are requesting is done as you would expect. If you know people who may be in-between jobs, see if they would be interested in doing some freelance work for your company. But, be careful when hiring relatives or close friends as these relationships can cloud your judgment and sometimes hurt your business. If you are not comfortable hiring a person whom you already know, there are many websites that allow companies to post jobs and freelancers to apply for them. Examples of such websites include FreelancerRatings.com, Elance.com and iFreelance.com.

 

Don’t forget to draw up a contract

Even though this is not a permanent employee, the contract between the freelance worker and company is very valuable. The contract must describe, in specific detail, the job that you are hiring the freelance worker to complete. Also, if this person is providing you with an item of their own creation, be sure to specify who owns the rights to this product upon its completion.

How to Hire Your Sales Superstar

Hiring a new employee can be tough in any industry. But, hiring the right person in retail/sales settings can be especially stressful. This person is responsible for driving up your revenue, so he or she will have the capacity to make or break your business, to an extent. Here are some quick tips that will guide you in hiring the right salesperson to foster a successful environment.

Dwight Schrute the office sales superstar

As a business owner, you already have a full plate in front of you. You have to be business savvy, know your market, and keep track of everything that goes along with it. Adding the responsibilities of profiling customers, marketing and selling products, creating pricing tiers and actually making the sale would make your job next to impossible. So, it’s important to hire someone you trust to take those responsibilities off your hands.

Make sure you’re specific about the job requirements. Don’t leave any room for guessing. Also, be sure you don’t have any typos or grammatical errors in your job posting as this tends to turn off experienced, educated, knowledgeable salespeople.

Ask open-ended questions. When your questions are broad rather than simple “yes or no” questions, it forces the interviewee to think on his or her feet. And, since it’s unlikely that they will have a planned answer for every single open-ended question you ask, it’s more likely that you will get their honest answer. For example, if you want to gauge their success at closing a sale, don’t simply ask, “How often do you try to close on a deal?” as their answer will surely be, “Every time.” Instead, ask “During an appointment with a potential client, what is your normal plan of action?” Be sure to pay close attention and take notes on their answer. Or, even bring in a small recording device so that you can review the interview at a later date.

It’s okay to be a little bit shallow. Everyone likes to say that you should never judge a book by its cover, but in reality, everyone does it. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to hire your most attractive candidate, but you do want to be sure to hire someone who will be well-groomed and present themselves in a professional manner. After all, this is who your customers are going to be interacting with. Put yourself in the client’s shoes and decide whether or not, at first glance, you would be interested in talking to or buying from that person.our sales team cartoon holding up a sign

And finally, if you think you’ve found the right person, be sure to sell yourself! In today’s market, highly successful salespeople aren’t going to interview at just one place. And if you want to hire him or her, it is likely that another company does as well. Be sure to make the salesperson understand what your business is all about, and sell the best aspects of your company.

Myths about Small Businesses

If you own or are looking to start up your own small business, you’ve probably already heard your fair share of myths about the small business world. These urban legends can be disheartening and negatively affect the potential for your small business’s success. They can lead you to make wrong or rash decisions and diminish the credibility of your company. While there are many to choose from, here is a list of the top 3 most commonly heard myths regarding small businesses.

 

Myth 1: I can start by business and receive a loan without putting down any money up-frontLoan money bag

Reality: If you’re not going to put down money, you’re going to have to put up capital (i.e. your property), and the normal amount is somewhere in the neighborhood of 25%. Additionally, business owners who invest money in their company up-front are more likely to feel as though they have more at stake and, as such, are willing to work harder to keep their business afloat. Also, lenders will ask you to propose your realistic cash flow projection to show how you are planning to repay your loan. This brings me to the second small business myth.

 

Myth 2: If I have a plan in mind, there is no need to write up an official business plan.

Business plan chalkboard

Reality: No matter how smart you are or how good your memory is, this is never going to be a viable option. Without taking the time to sit down and write out your business plan, you are liable to omit important information that will, sooner or later, result in massive damage to your company. Laying out a foundation that includes your marketing strategies, funding options, organizational structure and anticipated revenue is not optional. And, drawing back to myth 1, if you are planning to receive a loan, lenders are undoubtedly going to require this information before investing in your business venture.

 

 

Myth 3: If my business is going to be a success, I need to buy an office before I get started.

office conference table window view london

Reality: Many successful business owners either started or continue to work from home. It is not necessary to start your business in a huge, high rise office suite downtown. The less overhead you have to dish out, the better, regardless of whether it is coming out of your pocket or someone else’s. If possible, start your business from home. Later on down the road, you can decide if it is a good idea to expand into an office building or a free-standing suite.

 

Keep in mind that this is not a compilation of all of the false myths surrounding small businesses. There are many other myths that could harm your endeavor, so keep an eye out for false claims and be careful about what advice you take to heart and from whom that advice stems.