Getting into the world of business and striking out on your own to set up a start-up or sole trade can be an incredibly daunting task and the sheer amount there is to learn can seem highly intimidating. Reading around the subject you are likely to encounter an awful lot of jargon, and the sheer amount of risk involved in putting your money where your mouth is when you’re not sure what you’re doing is something most of us would rather avoid. Of course the reality is quite different – and actually business is really rather simple and based on a few basic principles. The jargon is all really unnecessary, an actually as long as you manage the risk it’s fine to learn from experience.
The sad thing is though, that many people will get put off before they get far enough to learn this, and that means that there are countless of businesses that will never see the light of day that otherwise could have been highly successful.
The solution of course is knowledge. As ever the right information is the best weapon we have and can make the whole experience a lot less daunting. And fortunately there are some books out there that do a great job of cutting through the gobbledygook and explaining the basics in plain English. If you want to begin your education in business, these books are the best places to start.
The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman
The Personal MBA began life as a blog on which Kaufman would post all of the useful resources he found for learning business. He wanted to get into business himself, but was reportedly too put off by the thought of doing an expensive and lengthy degree, so instead he decided to go the self taught route. The result was a website that became incredibly successful, and eventually this book that aims to impart all that he learned in one volume and save you from needing an expensive degree as a result.
Now of course the book doesn’t quite replace a real MBA, but what it does do is to give you a very useful introduction into many of the underlying principles in business which you can apply to your own projects with immediate results. Perhaps the best part though is the chapter on working with your own brain, which will help you to increase your productivity.
Business Stripped Bare by Richard Branson
One of the all-time ‘heroes’ of business, Richard Branson’s life story is a blueprint that many of us would like to emulate. Fortunately, this book is the closest thing you’ll get to a step-by-step guide as to how you can go about doing that. The book isn’t a reference like The Personal MBA so much as a story of his business career, with all the lessons he learned along the way included. There are chapters on things like branding and delivery, and each draws on his experience to provide real examples that are easy to follow.
How I Made It by Rachel Bridge
How I Made It is a compilation of success stories from a number of entrepreneurs which is both inspiring and informative. Not only can you learn from the individual stories with regards to business models and pitfalls to be avoided (and there’s bound to be one or two that are directly related to your own business), but there are also some very practical lessons here regarding finding patents, working with councils and more. Meanwhile, the sheer breadth of topics here means that more than once you’ll be amused to learn the backstory of a product or service that you have always taken for granted in the past.
Dragon’s Den: Success From Pitch to Profit by The Dragons
If you’ve ever watched an episode of Dragon’s Den then you’ll know how much it’s possible to learn from a single episode, and just how informative it is watching the Dragons question someone’s business model until it falls apart. In this book you learn the stories of each of the Dragon’s, as well as what makes a successful pitch on the show, and how those projects that received funding went on to fair in the big wide world. And of course if you were thinking of actually going on the show yourself, then this should be considered required reading.
This article was contributed by Greg Fisher, the founder of Berkeley Sourcing Group. They specialize in prototype manufacturing projects. You can visit their website to know more about the company and the services they provide.