Recommended Books for Small and Medium Business Owners

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Founders at Work

Jessica Livingston

Jessica Livingston is the co-founder of Y Combinator, a start-up incubator. Livingston interviews founders of big-name companies such as PayPal, Flickr, TripAdvisor, and Craigslist. The common theme I noticed among the stories is uncertainty. It's OK to feel uncertain and not know what your final product will look like. What matters is how you define what 'done' looks like for your business.

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IBM Redux: Lou Gerstner and the Business Turnaround of the Decade

Doug Garr

This book goes in-depth on how IBM was losing billions of dollars in the early 1990’s, accumulating with an $8 billion loss in 1992. Fast forward six years from that point, their stock price was then at an all time high. What happened and how did they turn the company around? A great read on deploying short-term strategies to turn a company around.

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Steve Jobs

Walter Isaacson

Apple has been put on the pedestal as one of the most successful and innovative companies in the modern era. Yet, just like any company, they have gone through countless trials and tribulations. They had issues with cash flow, expenses, staffing, management, the list goes on. After every high, there's a low. After every low, there's a high. Despite all this, they kept going.

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Losing My Virginity

Richard Branson

A story of a self-made businessman. Branson didn't finish high school, had dyslexia, had no money, and didn't come from a wealthy family. In his early 20's, he founded Virgin Records, where he signed the Rolling Stones. The Virgin Group has expanded to telecommunications, airlines, and space travel. Branson's life is a tale of how where you start is not where you end up.

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Shoe Dog

Phil Knight

Nike went through crushing setbacks and ruthless competition. But, they kept going. This is a motivational story of how a company embodied resiliency and success.

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Iacocca: An Autobiography

Lee Iacocca and William Novak

Iacocca was best known for developing the Mustang at Ford. In 1978, he was fired by Henry Ford and was strongly courted to join Chrysler. Chrysler was going through a financial crisis and was close to declaring bankruptcy. Bankruptcy would've been the easy way out. However declaring bankruptcy meant there would have been negative consequences for the economy, government, employees, dealers, etc. Iacocca helped Chrysler steer clear of bankruptcy and get back on their feet again. This story is a great example of why declaring bankruptcy isn't always the answer to a financial crisis.

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Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All

Tom Kelley & David Kelley

I read the preface and was hooked from an empathetic perspective. Inspired, I dove into the book and I was intrigued by the obvious - the-in-your-face headlines like ‘stop planning and start acting’, and ‘from duty to passion’. It’s part motivational (more than part) and part structure.

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The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google

Scott Galloway

A two-sided coin look at the four companies that have integrated themselves, invited or not, into our lives. How they moved from startup to the biggest market caps and bring along with them both value in our everyday lives and controversies. Great read on how they have reshaped the competitive landscape, the economic landscape and the authors view of the good, the bad and the ugly that comes with it.