Updated: Mar 9, 2019
Over 11,000 new business titles are published every year, and that’s without accounting for the huge number of self-published books and ebooks. So how do you begin to cut through the noise and find the handful of gems that really add value?
Over the last decade we’ve found personal recommendations the only reliable way of finding great business books – our favourites, Awaken the Giant Withinby Anthony Robbins and The Success Principles by Jack Canfield and Tools of the Titans by Tim Ferriss, all came highly recommended from colleagues.
With that in mind, we’ve asked five of London’s brightest and best business owners to recommend their favourite business book – the book that has provided them with the insight, perspective or tools to succeed in competitive markets.
As you can see, some of them couldn’t recommend just one!
Marie Cross, Founder & Training Director at First Impression Training Limited Frontline Customer Service and Telesales Training
Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
Of the many hundreds of business books I have read over my (almost) 40-year career, NOTHING has come close to having the profound effect that Think & Grow Rich continues to have on me. I’ve even revisited the book via Audible three times in recent years!
70 years after being published, Think & Grow Rich remains Hill’s best work and is STILL the sixth best-selling business book of all time. Jam-packed with personal and professional insight, it will spur you to take ACTION immediately on finishing the book, if not sooner!
Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh
The story of Zappos – and Hsieh’s – path to profits, passion and purpose is a fascinating one. It’s remarkable that Hsieh created a company that customers and staff LOVED in equal measure, with every fibre of their being – ensuring total employee engagement and true brand loyalty. And all simply by ‘deliveringhappiness’ both inside and outside of the organisation, selling shoes online! Amazon knew exactly what they were doing when they bought Zappos as a wholly owned subsidiary back in 2009.
James A Muir, Owner of Buscando Financial Services & Financial Management
Getting Things Done by David Allen
I have followed this mantra informally for years. I like that it encourages prioritisation and organisation as well as focusing the mind on getting ideas, concepts and issues out there. I hate procrastinating over a draft of anything so often I’ll encourage people to read my initial thoughts or to send me theirs.
I think it clears the inbox and evolves ideas more collaboratively and clearly. I like the 4 Ds - do it, delegate it, delete it, defer it (the last as a last resort) and this book puts all of that in context.
Leading by Alex Ferguson
Without people leadership all the techniques in the world are useless. This book has everything - psychology, football, anecdotes.... it shows the innate wisdom and courage of the working class footballer from Glasgow who had the good sense to open his eyes, learn and understand but also apply all of his learning and experience. He knows he's brilliant but has the humility to recognise what shaped him, and to acknowledge his mistakes and the contributions of others.
Marion Barry, Founder at TalentYard Boutique Recruitment Agency
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
I like philosophical books or novels and The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is one of them. This novel offers you a different perspective on your journey as an entrepreneur and how to follow your dreams whilst being resilient with the threat of failure.
It makes you think about the bigger picture and that if you go out there and do everything you can to follow your goals then something magic happens and “all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream.” Very uplifting and very relatable.
Mark Davies, Chairman of Grovelands Resourcing for the Finance & Technology Sectors
The Great Crash of 1929 by John Kenneth Galbraith
I first read this book in my early twenties after the stock market crash of 1989. I found it a wonderful introduction to business and a great explanation of some core concepts like leverage, speculation and monetary policy. Galbraith lays bare the rampant speculation in the stock market in the late ‘20s, his belief that speculation is driven by a desire to get rich quick and the damage this does to an economy.
The book is beautifully written and tells a wonderful story of the financial story from the early ‘20s through to the great depression. It’s always a relevant read, and particularly so after the recent financial crisis. (Two other books I would recommend are Extraordinary Popular Delusions & the Madness of Crowds and Too Big toFail, bothalso excellent summaries of crashes.)
Tom Pritchard, Copy Lead & Big Chief at teepee Copy and Comms Consultancy
Paddle Against the Flow: Lessons on Life from Doers, Creators, and Culture-Shakers
This book, published by the team behind Huck magazine, brings together advice and insight from some of the greatest creative minds out there. With contributors ranging from Spike Jonze and Ai Weiwei to Mos Def, MIA and Mark Gonzales, it’s more a call to creative and disruptive thinking than a business book. I found that hugely refreshing.
This book encouraged me to walk the road less travelled and create the business that I and my customers wanted, rather than the business I felt I ‘should’ create.
If you don’t have the time or inclination to sit and read, Audible offers a great selection of audiobooks for when you’re on the go. They also offer summarised versions too!
We’d love to hear what business books you would recommend – drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.