The books that can change a business life

THOMAS Jefferson once said: “books constitute capital,” and considering all entrepreneurs are after that, we thought we’d ask five successful business owners what books spurred them on in the early days. Here are their answers.

TAREK NSEIR, TH_NK

THE DESIGNFUL COMPANY: HOW TO BUILD A CULTURE OF NONSTOP INNOVATION BY MARTY NEUMEIER
Nseir says that this management book-cum-manifesto got him thinking about how to create a business of non-stop innovation. “It made me realise that you have to plan for success to be really different and innovative. It also taught me lots about management theory, including things like the six thinking hats technique and parallel thinking.”

PATRICK REEVE, ALBION VENTURES

WILLIAM PITT THE YOUNGER: A BIOGRAPHY BY WILLIAM HAGUE
Reeve says William Hague’s biography of William Pitt the Younger provided him with surprise inspiration. “It started me thinking about long-term strategy in a difficult climate. Not just the near-term noise that can distract. Issues that could face the business over the next decade.”

SEAN BOWEN, PUSH TECHNOLOGY

CROSSING THE CHASM: MARKETING AND SELLING TECHNOLOGY PRODUCTS TO MAINSTREAM CUSTOMERS BY GEOFFREY A. MOORE
Bowen owes some of his sales and business success to the thinking in Geoffrey A. Moore’s Crossing the Chasm. “It was a great book for helping me think about how to grow your business. The premise is that businesses need to ‘cross the chasm’ – make that jump – from first customers to mass market. There are lots of useful warnings in there like not becoming too specialised.”

JIM SHAIKH, YOOMI

THE NEW BUSINESS ROAD TEST: WHAT ENTREPRENEURS AND EXECUTIVES SHOULD DO BEFORE WRITING A BUSINESS PLAN BY JOHN MULLINS
Shaikh has modelled three businesses on the frameworks supplied by this workbook. “I know it’s not particularly inspirational, but the advice it gives is invaluable. It’s a step-by-step guide to thinking through a business before you write a business plan. It forces you to qualify your idea. A fantastic exercise because business ideas are ten-a-penny, but good opportunities are pretty rare.”

EMMA WARD-HUNT, FOUNDATION PR

LOSING MY VIRGINITY: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY BY SIR RICHARD BRANSON
Ward-Hunt loved reading Richard Branson’s autobiography. “I had already decided to start my business when I read it, so it didn’t make me start the business, but it did really encourage me.” She explains: “It makes you think: if Branson came from such humble beginnings and has created so much that is so familiar to so many people, what can I do with my business? The sky’s the limit.”