I like to read books, lots of them. Some I read only once (very fast, usually in a few hours, to get the main picture), and the good ones I read over and over again, or at a slower pace.
In case of non-fiction, I either read books about physics, economics or business methodologies.
While I read a lot of books, and some books gradually bring me a bit closer to the essential knowledge on a business level, I finally think I have a shortlist of 3 essential books one should read in order to acquire the basics.
I am not saying that this list is the only one possible, but it should give you enough universal business knowledge to get started. For every single book I mention, there will probably be umphteen alternatives providing similar content.
The list does not cover any specific techniques or methodologies, just universal approaches.
If you do have any suggestions or alternatives, do not hesitate to let me know.
(FYI, I usually read the Dutch version, but I post the links to the original ones.)
1. "Skills for New Managers" - McGraw-Hill
(Link on Amazon)
I know the title says "managers", but in my opinion, this book can be used as a guidance for business in general.
This is the first on my list for a very good reason: it is packed with essential knowledge and touches the most important aspects of working in a company/dealing with colleagues:
- What makes a manager successful?
- Management myths - things you should avoid
- How to give a good first impression
- How to manage by listening
- How to talk like a manager
- How to motivate
- How to criticize
- How to sanctionize
- How to be efficient/time management
- How to delegate
- How to handle your boss
- How to build a network
It is written in a very down to earth style, and the book is full of examples and pragmatic guidelines. In my opinion, one can apply these tips in a much broader context than just being a manager.
I reread this every few years since it brings you back to the most essential things one should do.
"How to Connect in Business in 90 Seconds or Less" - Nicholas Boothman
(Link on Amazon)
Since building a network and interacting with people is, in my opinion, one of the most important aspects in business, this needs a little special attention.
This book offers a very entertaining review of techniques one should apply in order to extend your business network and talk to customers/personnel/bosses in general. It offers a very down-to-earth approach on how to improve your communication skills.
Unfortunately, I cannot recall who I lent this book to the last time (I lent it to numerous people), so if the person who has it reads this, please give it back, since I would like to read it again to refresh my memory.
"The Management Myth: Debunking Modern Business Philosophy" - Matthew Stewart
(Link on Amazon)
While I read numerous books on methodologies and techniques on how to do business, this book points out what it is all about: techniques and methodologies are there to help you, not to worship them.
I just recently (fast-) read this book a few days ago (in about 6 hours or so, so not very thoroughly), and while reading it, I was thinking "Now my list of essential business books is complete, I need to write a blog post on this".
I still have to read it a few times or take the time to read it through in a slower pace, but the key point here is that this book points out the major flaws in preferring methodologies over common sense.
Every time I read a new book ("Good to great" - Jim Collins, "Die hohe Kunst der Überzeuging" - Hans Christian Altmann, "The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less" - Richard Koch, "The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich" - Timothy Ferris, ...) I am really thinking this is the next big thing. This book is there to remind me to be a little bit more suspicious on the next silver bullet.
There you have it, this is my shortlist. The books on the list offer you a very broad amount of universal tips, techniques and methodologies one can use in business. The first one is there to give you a general idea, the second one specializes in a very important aspect of doing business/management, and finally the last one reminds you of the fact that one has to be a little bit conservative when reading in on "The next big thing™".
I hope you enjoyed the post, and if you think the list can be improved (taking into consideration you can only have 3 books), please leave your suggestions in the comments !!