While it may be true that the best way to learn to be an entrepreneur is on the job, however, the importance of a great book cannot be underestimated, especially in providing much needed guidance and advice.
Some of South Africa’s most influential entrepreneurs including Murray Legg, Allon Raiz, Jason Goldberg, technologist Simon Dingle and Velly Bosega share the books they’ve learned from, and what they believe every entrepreneur and prospective entrepreneur should be reading. Some of which they shared at this year’s Leaderex’s entrepreneurship master classes.
Name of Book: The Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls that can Sink a Start-up
Author: Noam Wasserman
About the book: Harvard Business School professor Noam Wasserman, developed and teaches an MBA elective called “The Founder’s Dilemma”. In this book he discusses the problems and challenges of starting a business and how founders can avoid them.
According to the author: “This book scrutinises those all-important “people problems” that bedevil all founders – even solo founders – and their startups. These problems often follow predictably from common dilemmas faced by any startup as it grows and evolves – what I call “founding dilemmas”.
“Why do so many people go into business only to fail? What lessons aren’t they learning? Why is it that with all the information available today on how to be successful, so few people really are?”
2. SIMON DINGLE hosts a weekly tech-focused show on 5 FM. He also hosts two podcasts: Binary and Take Back the Day. Dingle is also an entrepreneur and is the founder of Phantom Design.
Name of book: The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers
Author: Ben Horowitz
About the book: The author is the co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz, a private American venture capital firm. He is also one of Silicone Valley’s most respected entrepreneurs. In his book he offers practical advice for handling challenging problems while on the job.
According to the author: “The problem with these books [management and self-help books] is that they attempt to provide a recipe for challenges that have no recipes. There’s no recipe for really complicated, dynamic situations. There’s not recipes for building a high-tech company; there’s not recipe for leading a group of people out of trouble; there’s no recipe for making a series of hit songs; there’s no recipe for NFL quarterback; there’s no recipe for running for president; and there’s no recipe for motivating teams when your business has turned to crap. That’s the hard thing about hard things – there is no formula for dealing with them”.
3. ALLON RAIZ, founder and CEO of Raizcorp, a for-profit business incubator.
Name of Book: The E – Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Business Don’t Work and What To Do About It
Author: Michael E. Gerber
About the book: Michael E. Gerber is the founder of Michael E. Gerber Companies and has been described as the world’s number one small business guru. In this book he answers follow-up questions to the first edition of the book – “The E – Myth” which focuses on the myths that surround entrepreneurship.
According to the author: “Why do so many people go into business only to fail? What lessons aren’t they learning? Why is it that with all the information available today on how to be successful, so few people really are? This book answers those questions. It’s about four profound ideas, which, if you understand and take them to heart, will give you the power to create an extraordinary exciting, and personally rewarding, small business”.
“This book is twenty years of figuring junk out, compressed into a hundred and eighty pages of actionable business strategies”
4. JASON GOLDBERG is the founding director of Edge Growth, an enterprise and supplier development specialist firm and, head of Vumela Fund and the IP Development Education.
Name of Book: Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable
Author: Seth Godin
About the book: Entrepreneur and marketer, Seth Godin in the book argues that creative advertising is not as effective as it used to be, and calls for entrepreneurs be innovative by creating remarkable products.
According to the author: “Cows, after you’ve seen them for a while, are boring. They may be perfect cows, attractive cows, cows with great personalities, cows lit by beautiful light but they’re still boring. A Purple Cow though. Now that would be interesting (for a while). The essence of the Purple Cow is that it must be remarkable. In fact, if “remarkable” started with a P, I could probably dispense with the cow subterfuge, but what can you do. This book is about the why, the what and the how of remarkable”.
5. VELLY BOSEGA, founder and CEO of AdClick Africa Media Group, a digital media company.
Name of Book: I’m a Freaking Genius: Why is this Business So Hard?
Author: Mike Campion
About the book: Entrepreneur Mike Campion shares his twenty years worth of experience. He shares the business strategies that have worked for him and other businesspeople.
According to the author: “My name is Mike Campion and I am just a run of the mill business owner who has spent the last two decades working his tail off passionately buying, selling, and studying the art of business. I have built, bought, and sold multiple businesses and went through a lot of brain damage in the process. I eat, drink, sleep, and sadly shower with thoughts of how to make better businesses and happier business owners dancing in my head. This book is twenty years of figuring junk out, compressed into a hundred and eighty pages of actionable business strategies that have worked in my life and the lives of those I have worked with and studied”.