If you have been reading my columns over the past year, you know I am very big on reading business books. September is like the beginning of a new year, because the summer is over and the kids are back in school. Many companies begin their fiscal years in September.

When I look for books to read, I basically stay away from the self-congratulating biographies of Fortune 500 CEOs and focus on books that will provide me with:

  • new business concepts;
  • new businesses;
  • information on businesses I know nothing about; or
  • information on accounting and legal issues that would affect my business.

I believe the following 9 books will get your creative juices flowing and increase your knowledge of business.

Finding Foreclosures

, by Danielle Babb and Bill Nazur. Although the

Federal Reserve

is lowering the interest rates, the number of people losing their homes is still growing quickly. There are tremendous opportunities for people who want to own real estate and have a long-term view of the real estate market.

Masters of Sales

, by Ivan Misner and Don Morgan. Ivan Misner is the founder of Business Network International, which has almost 100,000 members worldwide that network in small groups to develop business leads. This book features insights and advice from some of the world's most well-known sales gurus, such as Tony Robbins, Harvey Mackay and Tom Hopkins.

The Business Rules: The 7 Irrefutable Laws That Determine All Business Success

, by David Eichenbaum. The author, a professional consultant, spent 20 years studying businesses. He covers everything from starting a business to sales to marketing. There are a lot of great case studies featuring all sizes of companies, many of which are well known.

Open an Online Business in 10 Days

, by Melissa Campanelli. The times of starting an online company and making millions in a public offering are long gone. Still, there are more opportunities for the average person to make money using the Internet now than there were in the heyday. This book walks you through what it takes to start an online business.

The Small Business Legal Tool Kit

, by Ira Nottonson and Theresa Pickner. This is a great book for start-up entrepreneurs. There is information on corporate bylaws, employment applications and just about everything you need to start a business. The book also comes with a CD-ROM.

Sales Scripts That Sell

, by Teri and Michael Gamble. I started a new company in June. Like all new business owners trying to get their first client, I had to develop sales scripts -- pitches that I, my partner and the sales team will use to educate and convince prospects to buy our service. This book provides insights into prospecting, pushing the sales process forward, closing and everything in between.

The Sales Manager's Success Manual

(available Sept. 30), by Wayne Thomas. This is a great book for sales superstars promoted to managers to develop other future stars. New managers need to know how to make financial forecasts, and how to develop individuals and teams.

Doing What Matters

, by James Kilts. Kilts is one of the most successful CEOs of the last quarter-century. He isn't a household name like Jack Welch, but he has run such well-known companies as Gillette, Nabisco and Kraft. Kilts walks the reader through what successful CEOs focus on to build their companies and which time drains to avoid to keep from feeling unproductive.

The 4-Hour Work Week

, by Timothy Ferriss. At the end of the day, we all strive to work less and play more. This book talks about how to achieve balance between work and life. Balance is very critical for long-term success, because American workers spend more time at the office than anyone else, and that leads to burnout.

Every morning on the treadmill or on the train, I take 30 to 60 minutes to read a book. My goal is to read one new book a month. You would be surprised how much you can accomplish if you are a smart time manager, and books will hone those skills.

Marc Kramer, a serial entrepreneur, is the author of five books and a project faculty member at the Wharton School of Business.

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