I always wanted to start my own business. It is a really easy thing to want. It’s much harder to make it a reality. The single greatest challenge is getting yourself mentally prepared to make the leap from a comfortable salaried job to an only-eat-if-you-find-a-customer reality. It’s a bit like getting yourself ready to jump out of a perfectly good airplane. It takes mental preparation. It requires you to amass enough confidence in your plan that you believe you can fling yourself out of the plane, and not splatter on the deck below.
How I did it.
To get myself mentally prepared to open my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, I put myself through a self-devised entrepreneurial boot camp. A critical part of my preparation was reading. This reading was really more like serious studying. The books I read provided the inspiration, tools and examples I needed to believe I could generate enough interest in my business to keep me and my family of five fed, clothed and sheltered long enough to fend off family services until my youngest child turned eighteen (and he was only five at the time).
It seems to be working. I’m well into the second year of my entrepreneurial adventure and we continue to pick up momentum. We are all eating. Everyone has clothes. We are paying two mortgages. I’m having fun. And I couldn’t be happier. I feel like I was well prepared for the challenge.
That’s why I’m sharing the books I read in hopes that they will provide you with the same entrepreneurial foundation, confidence and motivation to make your own leap.
The books I read, in order.
- Rich Dad. Poor Dad. Robert Kiyosaki
I had known about this book for a long time. But I thought it seemed hokey. Like attending a get-rich-quick seminar. But finally I bought a used copy and devoured it. My preconceptions were wrong.
It was amazingly insightful. It helped me recongize the difference between assets and liabilities. It shined a spotlight on the perils of working for someone else. And the advantages of owning your own business. It made me see my skills as an asset that could create a business asset that could translate to significant wealth. It was a great motivating first read. I’m now reading it to my children as a bedtime story. Seriously.
2. Call Me Ted. Ted Turner
I bought this as an audio book for $1. Ted Turner is ballsy, brash and innovative. This book gave me a vision of how someone else had built their personal brand, recognized opportunities, taken progressively larger and larger chances, got creative with financing, changed the world and made a billion dollars along the way. It showed me that action is the simple differentiator between doers and dreamers. He also talks candidly about his shortcomings and failures in a way that make you feel like you don’t have to be perfect to be highly successful. Which is good, because I don’t want to give up my own personal shortcomings I’ve fought so hard to keep.
3. The Alchemist Paulo Coelho
I read an article about Pharrell Williams a couple of years ago in Fast Company where he said this book was like his Bible. I bought it, used. I was really wowed by it. This book helped me think about my personal legend, and made me start paying attention to all the signs the universe was sending me, encouraging me to follow my own path. This was timely because the universe started putting up neon signs all over the place. Like Reno. I am sure there are signs the universe is giving you right now that you don’t recognize. This book will help.
4. Think and Grow Rich. Napoleon Hill
Many of the books I’ve read reference this book and its power. So I picked it up and loved it. At the encouragement of Andrew Carnegie, Hill studies rich people and finds their commonalities. He then serves up his learnings to the reader in an easily digestible way.
This is a great book for the start of your journey. Everyone should read it. It is really about the power of positive thinking. It’s about having a clear vision of your goals. The book encourages you to think about the finishline from the start. I revisit this book often.
5. The Little Red Book of Selling Jeffrey Gitomer
I picked this great little hardcover book up for $1 at a library book sale. It is packed with great little bites of advice, info and techniques on selling. If you want to be an entrepreneur, you have to be able to sell. Having lots of knowledge in sales makes you feel like your parachute is going to open when you jump.
The two key take aways from this book were, 1. People hate to be sold. But they love to buy. 2. Don’t sell to people. Build relationships. These were great insights because they play to my natural tendencies. I prefer to make friends and talk to them about what I am doing. Then, if they come to the conclusion that what I’m doing could be helpful for them we both win.
6. The Little Black Book of Connections Jeffrey Gitomer
I checked this audio book out at the library. It is a great companion piece to the Little Red Book of Selling. It teaches lessons about the importance of your personal network. But the most important new lesson I got out of this book was, ‘It’s not who you know. It’s who knows you.‘ It shares great insights and advice around this particular statement that have helped me gain traction. The book helps you think about growing a network that develops inbound introductions and requests. Being sought after makes the entrepreneurial experience much easier.
7. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Stephen R Covey
I bought this book on Amazon. Full price. Everyone should read this book. It offers great advice on how to become a better, more effective human. I loved the way it highlighted the things that successful people do regularly, and how to continuously improve yourself to become more effective. One of my favorite lessons is about The Win-Win. Highly effective people seek outcomes that benefit everyone. That has become core to my operating style.
8. The Science of Getting Rich. Wallace Wattles
This was a happy little accident. This short, pamphlet-like book came up as a ‘You may also like…’ when I was ordering another book. I am really glad I read it. I had previously read Wattles, The Science of Being Great, and thought it was surprisingly great. TSOGR shared a lot of similar thoughts as Think and Grow Rich, although it was a quicker and easier read. It taught me that earning money is a really important desire that turns the wheels of the economy.
9. The E-Myth Michael Gerber
This book helped me synthesize all of my thoughts and put them into an actionable plan. The E-myth is the Entrepreneurial Myth. It focuses on why most small businesses fail, and what to do to prevent that. It helps you think about systems and processes and structure and scalability. It encourages you to think about your business like a franchise model that could be repeated, even if you don’t ever plan to franchise. This was great advice for me. It made me feel like my parachute was packed with checks and balances to ensure it will perform correctly when I need it to.
If you want to get yourself in the right mindset to start your own business, buy a business or start a side hustle, read these books yourself. At a minimum you will end up smarter with new ideas. Perhaps you will finally act on that business you’ve been dreaming about, build an empire, make a billion dollars and change the world. If that happens, write your own book. I’d love to read it.
If you have books that helped you get mentally prepared to start your own business please share in the comments section.