There is so much small business owners need to know to operate at peak performance. Luckily we live in the Information Age with plentiful resources. To help you sift through some of the data, every week we’re going to look at three business books and the lessons you can learn from reading them.
The Birth of a Brand: Launching Your Entrepreneurial Passion and Soul ($24)
By Brian Smith
The Birth of a Brand, which will be released in December, is intended to show entrepreneurs “how to find their passion and follow it to a rewarding, happy life.”
Brian Smith is certainly qualified to guide us through this endeavor—he’s the founder of the iconic UGG Australia brand. His guiding principle is that businesses need to be nurtured. He says, “You can’t give birth to adults. Every company is conceived as an idea and birthed into reality.”
Smith delivers his wisdom by telling us the UGG story from birth to maturity, starting from how he was inspired to start the company after seeing an ad in Surfer magazine, and including the time the company was on “life support” and he considered giving up.
The First Mile: A Launch Manual for Getting Great Ideas Into the Market ($25)
In the world of innovation, the “first mile” is when your ideas move from planning to reality. It’s also, says Scott D. Anthony, the managing partner of Innosight, a strategy and innovation consulting firm, the time when “hidden traps snare entrepreneurs.” And in fact, most innovative ideas don’t make it through that first mile.
Anthony aims to change that by guiding you step-by-step through the innovation process. There’s a lot of solid advice in The First Mile. For instance, Anthony argues that most times, the ideas aren’t what derails innovators, it’s the process—or lack thereof. He warns that too many businesses are plagued by “zombie projects,” which suck up resources that would be better devoted to other ideas.
Overconfidence is one of the most common traps innovative entrepreneurs fall into, Anthony says. He advises readers to “test every single market and business assumption you make” and warns against believing your own financial projections.
The Tastemakers: Why We’re Crazy for Cupcakes but Fed Up With Fondue ($25.99)
By David Sax
I write about food trends all the time, so I really enjoyed reading The Tastemakers. David Sax specializes in writing about food and business, and his first book, Save the Deli, was a bestseller.
Sax explains how food trends come and go (yesterday’s pomegranate seeds or acai berries are today’s chia seeds, which have likely already been replaced by a new superfood).
Sax argues that the rise and fall of some foods is driven not necessarily by consumer demand, but by “influence, money and activism.” My favorite chapter is “Baconomics 101,” which explores the rapid rise of bacon’s popularity, despite the fact, as Sax points out, “There’s nothing new about bacon.”
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