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 Entrepreneur’s Guide to Financial Statements ($37)
Understanding financial statements is not one of the sexy or fun parts of being a business owner. But David Worrell, an entrepreneur, small business and financial expert and author, believes that understanding financing is critical to your company’s survival and growth.
You might think a book about financial statements would be a chore to read, but in the hands of Worrell, it is anything but. I’ve known David a long time—he used to write for me when I was the editorial director at Entrepreneur magazine—and he excels at explaining finance, which he calls “the language of business.”
How important is it to understand your financial statements? If you want to grow your business, it’s vital. As Worrell writes, “It is not enough to have a powerful vision, great products, or even smart people. Only a deeper dive into finance can show whether the effort is, and will be, successful at creating profits.”
The Age of the Customer: Prepare for the Moment of Relevance ($25)
A new era is upon us, says longtime small business advocate Jim Blasingame. The “Age of the Seller” is gone, maintains Blasingame, to be replaced by the “Age of the Customer.” According to the author, at the moment we’re living in a time where both “Ages” are coexisting, giving you some time to adjust your business thinking and strategies.
Blasingame covers a lot of ground in this book, revealing how relevance will replace competitiveness in the new age, the importance of storytelling and the importance of the “influencers who co-own your brand message—sometimes before you even know they exist.”
He also tells us how to become our own futurists, which is one of the keys to success in the “Age of the Customer.”
Why Employees are Always a Bad Idea: And Other Business Diseases of the Industrial Age ($25.95)
Serial entrepreneur and author Chuck Blakeman is also declaring a new age is upon us—the “Participation Age.” In this “Age,” employees will no longer tolerate being treated like children, says Blakeman, and will “demand we create a new workplace,” one where everyone “shares in the creative process of building the company…and the rewards from doing so.”
Blakeman argues the Industrial Revolution wasn’t all that revolutionary, reducing it in importance to an Industrial Age that left us with seven core business diseases. Instead of the managers of the Industrial Age, Blakeman argues, the Participation Age will have leaders, and “employees will be replaced with self-managed, self-motivated Stakeholders.”
If you don’t want to become irrelevant, warns Blakeman, you need to understand the importance of living your company culture. And culture, he says, comes from your set of beliefs. At Blakeman’s company, “our beliefs guide all our choices regarding culture, the products and services we create and sell, the clients and partners we want and the Stakeholders who will join us.”
Participating in this new age, Blakeman says, is not optional. But, he advises, “Don’t run away from the Industrial Age. Instead run toward a clear vision for a Participation Age company.”
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