Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. - Sun Tzu.
Well, Sun...I'd say:
Keep your friends close and your enemies closer...and your best books closest.
There are many great books for businesses. I read most, if not all, of a new business book each week.
There are 4 books I keep close-at-hand. Some I have kept close at hand for 6+ years.
If you're a small business owner, leader (...if you work in a small business... you are all of those...you have no choice, really...) keep these books closest at hand.
Being Strategic: Plan for Success, Outthink Your Competitors, Stay Ahead of Change. Erika Andersen, its author, is one of those rare authors who offer a clear vision of possibilities and a means for everyone to map their way there. That vision of possibilities is OUR possibilities. Her mission in life is to help people have the life they want and figure out a plan about how to achieve it. She accomplished that with this book. Her book and its methodical, daily, approach to Being Strategic can be used for having the career we want, the business we want, even finding the love of your life.
I met Erika 18 months ago. I read her book then. I have kept it close at hand since then.
She was a guest recently on my radio show. You can listen here.
Six Disciplines of Excellence: Building Small Businesses that Learn, Lead and Last. Gary Harpst is the author. He, too, offers the tools for small business to articulate their shared purpose and the means to reach that shared purpose together. Gary has laid out a plan of strategic execution with six disciplines where businesses create a culture of learners and leaders. This is employee engagement taken to a higher level. This culture of learning and leading sustains their ability to find new solutions as their growth brings greater challenges.
I read this book 3-4 years ago when I was CEO of a small company. I have kept it close at hand since then.
He was a guest recently on my radio show. You can listen here.
The Smart Interviewer: Tools and Techniques for Hiring the Best. Brad Smart is the author. This book presents the CIDS interview for hiring new employees. CIDS stands for Chronological In-Depth Survey.
I used CIDS 4 times. 3 times I found a great, A-Player, person who was welcomed with open arms and made tremendous contributions. The other time I was able to avoid making a disastrous hiring decision.
That kind of success is rare with any resource. But from a $13.00 book....? Figure the ROI on that! Just the savings from avoiding that one hiring mistake brings an astronomical ROI percentage.
Brad was a guest on my radio show. You can listen here.
MARKETING & SALES
Creating Customer Evangelists: How Loyal Customers Become a Volunteer Sales Force, by Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba. This is the end-goal isn’t it? Create customer evangelists who volunteer to generate referrals, sell your products and put their reputation at risk in the process.
The conversion rates are higher as are cross-sells, repeat purchases, upsells and customer loyalty.
Lower metrics are seen as result in marketing and advertising expenses, customer churn, employee churn.
All this translates to...higher profits, higher cash-flows.
This book and its authors continue to play a huge role in bringing companies back in touch with us, their customers. Maybe, that’s why their website is Church of the Customer. Maybe, that’s why they have 100,000 people who subscribe to their blog?
I could and have in the past testify for them. When all marketing tools and resources generated zero results as industry in which my company then raced to commodity-hell...Ben and Jackie appeared with some timely support. And truth. Again and again.
I read their book back in....2003. It’s stayed close by since. Now, I’m their customer evangelist and not as often as I should.
Jackie was a guest on the show last summer. You can listen here.