Read All About It!

Recently Amazon announced they are opening a real bookshop, with plans to open more. It was a bit of a surprise to many, but I’m sure they have their reasons. It did though get me thinking about my recent reading habits which have a business focus.

If you are starting a business, running a business, or want to develop your business career, you can improve your performance and increase your chances of future success by learning from the experiences of others. I can’t think of a better way to do this than read a book. It’s portable, always there, you can dip in and out, and with e-readers can be read anywhere, at any time, on multiple platforms.

For me, it’s not about the textbook stuff, or those succinct checklists, but a book that tells a story, based on real life. I want to know about the mistakes made as well as the successes. Is starting a business successfully or turning one around, based on sound business strategies, innovation, gut feeling, risk taking, luck, who you employ etc, and how does it all fit in with the ups and downs of life in general.

There are literally tens of thousands of books listed in the “business” category at Amazon. Whilst I love nothing better than browsing through a bookshop on the high street, with platforms like Amazon, there is the distinct advantage that you can read reviews from those that have bought them, can view lists of books with similar content, and with e-books start reading immediately. There is though nothing to stop you, having chosen your read, to placing an order for a physical book from your local bookshop.

Hidden within the business books section are some real gems, books that do tell a real-life business story, provide a different perspective of well-known entrepreneurs and businesses in the news. Some are better than the usual thrillers and horror stories, with some you just couldn’t make it up! Above all you will learn from the business experience of others.

For new readers of business books, a good place to start would be with the celebrity entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson, Alan Sugar, and the ex-dragons. Building a restaurant business is pretty tough too, so there are also good books by celebrity chefs. You will be spoilt for choice as many have written follow-ups or multiple books on similar topics.

Outside of these my own favourites are:

– Best Served Cold: The Rise, fall, and Rise again of Malcolm Walker (Iceland)
– easyLand: how EasyJet conquered Europe
– Barbarians at the Gate
– Enron – the Rise and Fall
– American Icon
– Hubris: How HBOS wrecked the best bank in Britain

The last four are stories about large corporations – but the issues raised in these can still provide an insight into the world of small business – there are just more people involved and a few extra 0’s on the figures.

Finally if you are of a certain age with fond memories of the British products and brands we used to know so well there is: Surrender – How British industry gave up the ghost.

Once you have satisfied your appetite with business books, the next area you could turn to is the politics section, particularly books about those in power and how government works. Most of these do fall into the “you couldn’t make it up” category!

Happy reading!

E1st_H_insight60-7178

John Mitchell – Chief Executive

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