In this day and age we are blessed with a plethora of books, articles, blog posts, TED talks, podcasts and more from our idols in the business world and beyond. Whether you want inspiration in the kitchen from Gordon or a nudge towards Olympic greatness from Tom, you have it all at your finger tips. What a world we live in eh? So in this age of information overload, I want to help you discover 5 books that were so crucial to growing my entrepreneurial seed. In no particular order...
1. Shoe dog - A memoir from the Creator of NIKE
That last word in the title says it all right? This is the memoir of Phil Knight, the creator of Nike, one of THE largest and most successful brands in the world. Although on the surface this may appear to be a business focused book, it certainly isn't that alone. It is a book focused on the very personal strife of a young entrepreneur who witnessed first hand how brutally tough it can be to follow your dreams (and thank goodness he stuck at it right!).
What I liked about this book is that it takes you on the journey right from the start and as someone fascinated with business, you can get tips from Phil throughout each step of NIKE's journey. The beauty of Phil's journey is that the recipe to success wasn't anything magical, just hard work, plain and simple. The book looks back on Phil selling shoes from the boot of his car, the almost accidental nature of the the famous swish, and the vast complexities of a global brand. Shoe Dog is a bible for any budding entrepreneur.
2. Richard Branson: Losing my virginity
I love stories of success and I love them even more when they are about someone British! Richard Branson is an idol of mine, not only because of his clear nouse for business, but for his attitude towards life. In this book you will see that Richard has not changed one ounce from his teenage years, still as hungry as ever to do business HIS way.
When Richard Branson started his first business, he and his friends decided that "since we're complete virgins at business, let's call it just that: Virgin." Since then, Branson has always done business in his own way, creating a group of global companies with no central headquarters, no constrictive management structure and no limit to what they believe they can achieve.
As you will read, almost every step of Richard Branson's journey has been met with people in shiny suits saying 'you can't do that' but time and time again, he just does it anyway! In this post pandemic world where we are all re-thinking our relationship with work, Richard Branson gives us a new model for any entrepreneur, one where family, friends and fun are equally important as business.
3. Howard Shultz - Pour your heart into it
This concise look back on the largely un-known story of how Howard Shultz built Starbucks into a powerhouse in world business is invaluable for anyone wanting to build a staff focused business.
As it is quite an old book now, it does not cover any recent stories relating to Starbucks, however, what he really focuses on is his own experience of joining the company when it was just a couple of small stores, and how he changed the way Starbucks operated as a company. When he joined the business, it was still a shop which simply sold retail bags of coffee, in no particularly special way, and it wasn’t until his trip to Milan where he realised that Starbucks could and should be doing exactly what the Italians had been doing for years...making coffee social. It was this change in approach that took Starbucks to where it is today, creating social hubs where millions flock to every single day.
A very inspiring book and one I would read again and again.
4. Alex ferguson: my autobiography
Ok right off the bat, I admit I am a Chelsea fan, so to champion anything related to Manchester United must mean it is bloody good...and this is! Sir Alex Ferguson's compelling story is always honest and revealing as he reflects on his brief playing and lengthy managerial career, from his time at Aberdeen to his domination with United.
Both the psychology of management and the detail of football strategy at the top level can be complex matters but no-one has explained them in a more interesting and accessible way for the general reader than Sir Alex does in this book. Sir Alex famously explains that 'psychology' is just a word...and all it really means is management. Sir Alex is a master of management and although his examples are of course football focused, there are countless things you can lift into your own business. Sir Alex is a master of people and someone worth learning from.
Arguably one of the most inspiring books I have ever read.
5. Ant Middleton: The fear bubble
Ant Middleton is a former Special Forces Point Man and star of a number of TV shows focused around Special Forces selection. Ant has had a challenging life to say the least and his first book, which details his journey into the army and beyond, was incredible. Ant's dedication to anything he undertakes is an inspiration and this book: The Fear Bubble focuses on using manifestations of fear and using them to drive him on.
In this book Ant details his journey to the top of Everest, leaving his family to achieve a goal he had always dreamed of. He teaches you that fear is not the enemy and explains his concept of the Fear Bubble. Harnessing fear is crucial to any entrepreneur, business is filled with scenarios to fear, the first one being actually starting a business! The statistics are against any start up, so not letting that fear hold you back is paramount.
So there we have it, these are my top 5 favourite books that inspired me on my entrepreneurial journey, I hope they will be of some help to you too! I always love to learn so if you have any recommendations for me, then please get in touch! This is Lewis signing off. Ciao.