It’s never been easier to successfully create, market, and sell a profitable product or service:
- Interested in writing a novel? You can create an entire eBook from the comfort of your living room, upload it to Amazon, and then start selling it to your readers in a matter of minutes.
- Looking to teach a course? Websites like Skillshare and Udemy provide all the tools you need to design and create entire online courses.
- How about offering one-on-one consulting services? Tools like Google Hangouts and Skype allow for real-time audio and video chat, effortless sharing of documents, and so on.
Plus, the widespread availability of other affordable and effective business tools makes the entire process of launching a business today far easier than in the past.
Despite these facts, many people continue to suffer from the inability and/or unwillingness to go beyond mere ideas by actually executing a business plan or strategy.
As entrepreneur and investor Chris Sacca once famously said: “Ideas are cheap, execution is everything”.
In other words, it’s only once you begin taking concrete action to bring an idea to life that its true value can actually emerge.
Do you have a fantastic idea for a business that you’ve been struggling to execute?
If so then listen up because today’s post is for you!
Whether it’s fear or self-doubt, feelings of intimidation or a lack of knowledge, an inability to prioritize or a sense of dwindling inspiration that’s holding you back from actually starting your business, I’ve got you covered!
Let me introduce you to 6 brilliant books (and each of their exceptionally creative authors) that are guaranteed to help you “take the plunge” and finally execute on your dream idea by bringing your business into reality.
- Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s Work—Steven Pressfield
Turning Pro is Steven Pressfield’s follow-up to his best-selling text The War of Art.
(Pressfield is also the author of the popular fictions books Gates of Fire and The Legend of Bagger Vance).
In Turning Pro, Pressfield puts forth the fundamental idea that becoming what you truly want to be is ultimately all a matter of changing your mindset.
The book is a close study of Pressfield’s own experiences and struggles trying to make it as a successful, well-known writer.
Whilst Turning Pro is primarily intended for readers who are themselves writers, Pressfield’s powerful lessons can be applied to countless other creative pursuits.
The key message of the book is simple yet potent:
To make things happen—to become an author, a podcaster, a journalist, a programmer, etc.—you merely have to start taking action by being the very thing that you want to become, i.e., by actually doing the very things that that person does!
The power of this seemingly simple message comes through Pressfield’s words brilliantly, leaving the reader feeling highly motivated and inspired to finally work toward becoming what he/she truly wants to be.
Standout quote from the book: “What happens when we turn pro is, we finally listen to that still, small voice inside our heads. At last, we find the courage to identify the secret dream or love or bliss that we have known all along was our passion, our calling, our destiny”.
- The $100 Startup—Chris Guillebeau
Written by Chris Guillebeau—an author, blogger, and professional speaker who has used “travel hacking” to visit every country in the world—The $100 Startup features stories from people all over the world who have built successful empires with initial funds of $100 or less.
Consisting of 50 case studies of individuals who were each able to turn a few dollars, an idea for a business, and a whole lot of determination into a successful enterprise, this book offers real-life, actionable insights from everyday people who know what it’s like to build something from the ground up.
This book will be perfect for you if you’re the type to draw inspiration and insight from the tales of the “average Joe” rather than being forced to rely on the expert insights of multimillionaires to whom you simply can’t relate.
Standout quote from the book: “If you make your business about helping others, you’ll always have plenty of work”.
- Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World—Michael Hyatt
In the words of its author, Michael Hyatt, the former Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, Platform “provides step-by-step guidance on how to gain visibility online for your product, service, or cause”.
This book is all about how to build an effective platform on which to share your important message with the world.
Your platform—whether it’s a podcast, a weekly newsletter, a blog, a YouTube channel, or some other medium—is that which allows you to reach others with your expertise.
If you’re looking to make a living by sharing your content online, then your goal must be to figure how to help others (by giving them useful information and support) so that you can help yourself (by earning a living).
Platform is the go-to resource for anybody hoping to build a presence online and thereby generate an income stream that can be sustained for life.
Appropriate for bloggers and non-bloggers alike, this book will be highly valuable to you if you’re looking to build a following online, grow your audience and influence, sell a product or service, or simply share a message that affects others’ lives.
Hyatt’s text also serves as an important reminder of the need to clearly grasp and deliberately apply the purpose of creating your platform.
Are you looking to get rich or to help others by doing what you love to do…or both?
Hyatt makes it clear that, in fact, these two end goals should always go hand-in-hand.
The trick, as he explains, is learning how to genuinely care for your audience so that it then trusts you enough to make a purchase.
Standout quote from the book: “You will never see the full path. The important thing is to do the next right thing. What can you do today to move you toward your dream?”
The fundamental question residing at the heart of Seth Godin’s Purple Cow is: when it comes to your business, is it just like all the others or is it unforgettable?
Seth Godin is something of a marketing god, having been inducted into the Direct Marketing Hall of Fame in 2013.
(As an aside, if you haven’t yet signed up for his email newsletter then you’re defining miss out on some amazing and concise daily content!)
Godin argues that because traditional advertising no longer works, today’s businesses must create “purple cows” by finding their core markets, creating remarkable products, and making their goods easy to buy and share with others.
The marketing of Purple Cow‘s first copies was actually a reflection of some of the very marketing principles he discusses in the book:
- First, he offered a free copy of the book to Fast Company subscribers (charging only $5 for shipping);
- Then, he made limited copies available for sale on his website. At that time, the book wasn’t available anywhere else (including on major sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble). Interestingly, Godin required buyers to purchase a set of 12 books at a time: one copy would go to the buyer and the other 11 could then be given to the buyer’s friends. To make the product and its sale truly unforgettable, the books were all shipped in milk cartons.
Purple Cow‘s key mantra is simple: sell a remarkable product to a small group of specific people, market creatively, and watch your all-star product eventually go mainstream.
Standout quote from the book: “In a crowded marketplace, fitting in is failing. In a busy marketplace, not standing out is the same as being invisible”.
- Steal Like An Artist—Austin Kleon
This catchy and controversial title, which encapsulates the essential message of Kleon’s book, is intended to help you rethink the ways you come up with your ideas.
Many people often shy away from executing their ideas because they mistakenly believe that the only way to be an authentic and/or successful creator is to be completely original and to refuse to “borrow” from others.
In an effort to combat this error-laden thinking, long-time artist Austin Kleon lists ten facts about being a creative that many people simply don’t know.
One of those facts, the most important for this book, is that there’s nothing inherently wrong with borrowing ideas from others because, in actuality, all “mixing” is merely “remixing”.
Kleon insists that, at the end of the day, nothing is original: “Every new idea is just a remix of one or more previous ideas”.
His message is not meant to function as a license to engage in outright plagiarism but rather to recognize that it’s perfectly healthy and acceptable to draw inspiration from others.
In a visually entertaining format, Kleon’s book helps the reader develop an understanding of when it’s worth “stealing” another person’s idea and when it’s not.
In the end, the crucial point is that writers, publishers, and entrepreneurs of many other sorts can learn from successful people in their respective fields and then use that gained knowledge to cultivate their own success.
- The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business—Josh Kaufman
For those of you have been struggling to turn your business idea into an actual product or service because you feel that you don’t know enough about the ins/outs of business then this final book is especially for you.
Josh Kaufman, author of The Personal MBA, does a great job outlining the essence of his book on his own website—here’s what he says:
“If you want to master the art of business, you don’t need to go to business school. You do [however] need to learn the fundamentals of modern business practice:
- How to make good business decisions.
- How to maximize your personal productivity.
- How to manage uncertainty and ambiguity.
- How to conduct intelligent experiments to improve your results”.
The Personal MBA is a fantastic book that should be read by business newbies and established professionals alike.
Kaufman makes crucial business principles—value creation, marketing, sales, ROI, business psychology, networking, systems, etc.—easy to understand, digest, and apply to your own creative pursuits.
The book discusses the basics of providing value for your customers, pricing your work, and scaling your company by increasing revenue.
There’s also a chapter dedicated to explaining many aspects of how our minds work and how our biases can affect our business decisions.
Overall, the book is an excellent resource for anybody looking to learn, or sharpen his/her understanding of, fundamental principles and practices of successful businesses.
Putting It All Together
Each of the 6 books listed in this article focuses on one or more of the core aspects of creating meaningful art, building successful businesses, and becoming the person you truly wish to be.
Whether you’re brand new to the world of business and looking for as much quality information as possible or a seasoned entrepreneur searching for one or two new insights or techniques with which to maximize your creative/corporate endeavours, the 6 books discussed above are sure to help you achieve your objectives.
As Steven Pressfield reminds us, you become who you want to be by doing the very things that such a person actually does—so set aside some time to read these 6 texts closely and, with this newfound knowledge, start executing on your idea immediately!
One final word of advice: don’t feel as if you must create and spread massive change in a day, week, month, or even a year.
Starting, even if it means starting something small and modest, is infinitely more valuable and productive than devising elaborate, “earth-shattering” plans that never actually turn into anything concrete.
As Seth Godin recommends, focus on building up a small following and then offer your audience something remarkable from which it will benefit.
Only once you have done this and secured a bit of traction should you then start pursuing loftier business goals.
Have you read any of the books addressed in this article? Care to share a review of one or more of the texts? Would you like to suggest other books that you find particularly motivating? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!
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Here are a few more helpful books on creativity and business that are also worth checking out: