Right now is a good time to begin to mentally prepare your business for 2008. A good way to do that is to take the time to read a good book or two to recharge your mind and thoughts. I have 10 books I would suggest you consider reading:
Truth or Delusion: Busting Networking's Biggest Myths by Dr. Ivan Misner.
Dr. Misner is the founder of the highly success Business Network International organization, which brings together small groups of business executives from a variety of fields. As we head into the holiday season, this book is ideal for advice on how to sharpen your networking skills as you meet new people at holiday parties.
As an example of the power of networking, two years ago, I attended a Christmas party in Panama City, Panama. One of the guests was the president of the University of Louisville's Panama City campus. I mentioned to him that I wrote five books and work part-time for the Wharton School. Through that meeting I ended up with two paid engagements to teach classes on entrepreneurship and Internet marketing.
Create the Business Breakthrough You Want by Brian Tracy, Mark Victor Hansen, Robert Allen and Michael Cannon.
As we close out the year, we start to think about ways to improve our business performance, as well as develop and attain new personal and professional goals.
Tracy, the lead author of this book, is one of the most well-known and respected motivational business gurus in the world. In addition to Tracy and his writing team, this book also features 57 other business/motivational leaders who write about everything from individual to corporate success. The chapters are short, with lots of proven "how-to" suggestions. One of the most effective chapters is on how to improve your business development skills.
Protecting the Brand by Talcott Franklin.
Franklin is an intellectual-property attorney. Many people think about starting new businesses at the start of each year. This book provides advice on how to protect the copyright of content and logos you develop for your business -- this can become very valuable, as
What Made Jack Welch, Jack Welch by Stephen Baum with Dave Conti.
Baum is an executive coach who uses Jack Welch, the former leader of
and the man many consider to be the best corporate leader of the last quarter century, to provide insights on what it takes to be a great business leader. This book has a lot of good stories and antidotes, and they don't just focus on Welch. There are leadership stories from former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and General Tommy Franks, among others.
Optimizing Corporate Portfolio Management by Anand Sanwal.
Sanwal is a vice president of corporate planning for
. I heard him speak at a conference and was inspired to review his book.
In the book, Sanwal rightly widens the definition of "corporate portfolio," which companies usually only think of as the products and services they offer. Typically, companies focus how to improve or differentiate those particular areas of the business because they bring income. But improving employee skills, the information system of the company and other parts are just as important as, if not more important than, the items a company sells. Why? Because those items are developed by the people, equipment and processes the organization uses on a day-to-day basis.
We Are Smarter Than Me by Barry Libert and Jon Spector.
Many small-business owners are so consumed by their ideas that they forget to reach out to others to get a reality check or to leverage the experiences of other people. This book talks about the online phenomena of online social and business networks and how networks of people collaborating can develop and implement great ideas.
Libert and Spector analyze business successes that have come from online networking and the dos and don'ts of participating in a network or community. In fact, the authors have created
wearesmarter.org, a Web site where readers can go to learn more about "community best practices."
Change to Strange: Create a Great Organization by Building a Strange Workforce by Daniel Cable.
The problem many start-ups face is that the founder looks for people like him or herself. My company,
PromptPayment, is currently hiring, and I have emphasized to the leadership team that we need to diversify the personalities and the experiences of the people we hire, or else we will fall into the trap of viewing the market in a less than dynamic way.
Dr. Cable is a business professor at North Carolina University. His book focuses on how to build a diverse workforce of people from different walks of life and experiences, and looks at new ways of measuring their impact on business. It's very thought-provoking.
Secrets of Great Rainmakers by Jeffrey Fox
. Many professionals who become consultants are experts in their field and are very good at developing a quality product. The problem is that many don't have sales experience or training in business development, which is crucial to long-term success. This book is about how to develop superior business development skills, so you can bring in new revenue and opportunities.
Competing in a Flat World: Building Enterprises for a Borderless World by Victor and William Fun and Jerry Wind.
This is the next level of understanding about the "flattening" of the world, as described in Thomas Friedman's book
The World is Flat
. The authors write about how to build a global company through the forging of international relationships and leveraging the Internet. The book includes many good examples of companies that are successfully executing this strategy.
One of these companies,
, had always built factories in the countries where it was selling cars. The problem is that these factories never spoke to each other, and efforts were being duplicated. In rebuilding itself for the "borderless" world, GM has eliminated duplication and now shares resources to lower costs and improve its competitive position.
No B.S. Time Management for Entrepreneurs by Dan Kennedy.
This is part of a series of small books for entrepreneurs that discuss sales, marketing and management. Because of the speed at which business moves, time management (the focus of this book in the series) is in short supply for many entrepreneurs. The book talks about how to develop manageable to-do lists, so you don't feel overwhelmed and how to be pickier about the activities you get involved in, so you conserve your time.
The problem with most of us is that we get into ruts that we have a hard time working our way out of, because we get so comfortable doing the same things over and over again. Reading books stimulates the mind with new ideas and approaches to solving old problems. So take the time to read one or two of these books before you ring in the new year.
Marc Kramer, a serial entrepreneur, is the author of five books and is an instructor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton's Global Consulting Practicum, where he serves as Country Manager for Chile.