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MadeSimple's favourite books about business
We asked our team to share their favourite books about business . Here you’ll find books to inspire, books to educate and some books to simply enjoy (links with the business world are sometimes tenuous!).
Ben, Customer Service Agent
Ogilvy on Advertising, David Ogilvy
Ogilvy on Advertising is an enduring classic from revered adman, David Ogilvy. First published over 30 years ago, Ogilvy’s musings on the fundamentals of advertising are timeless – even if the same cannot be said for every advert he features in the book. The book focuses primarily on the role of the copywriter, however; the methods and techniques it covers can be applied to almost any advertising discipline.
He covers subjects such as the importance of the headline and researching your product, while also giving focus to what he calls the “cult of creativity”, which drives home the importance of prioritising the effectiveness of an advert above any creative ambitions. Ogilvy on Advertising is a useful read for novices and experienced marketers alike, and it is full to the brim with pearls of wisdom that are still relevant in today’s digital marketing landscape.
Chris, Head of Online Conversion
The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It, Michael E. Gerber
This was one of the first business books I read that made an impression on me. It highlights the importance for business owners to learn new skills and not get bogged down with the product/service they are selling; the need to develop with the business. It demonstrates that the key factor to scaling your business is hiring and delegating.
Colleen, Quality Assurance Manager
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, Jon Ronson
This book really made me think about when, what and why I post online. Since reading it, I have become more aware of the way I may come across over the internet and to consider the context of my words. It is an eye-opener to read how people’s lives have been dramatically changed for the worse as a result of something they have posted or tweeted. A fascinating book, full of lessons for anyone who has an online presence.
Jared, Head of Technical Solutions
The Lean Startup: How Constant Innovation Creates Radically Successful Businesses, Eric Ries
Eric Ries distills his methodology for startup success. The build-measure-learn feedback loop for moving fast and steering in the right direction. Building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to gauge interest before investing effort in all the bells and whistles. Making sure you’re measuring the right things to take action on, and not just vanity metrics. Using “Five Whys” to problem solve and prevent issues from ever reoccurring.
Jenny, Marketing Executive
Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling
In the world of witchcraft and wizardry lies Ollivanders, the dedicated wand shop. I love Garrick Ollivander’s dedication to his customers; he gains an understanding of their wants, needs and abilities, ensuring that the product he sells connects with the buyer. It’s not just important to find a gap in the market but to do it well and be unbeatable. The business has found a niche in the magic market which other businesses have missed and is clearly hard to beat demonstrated by its lifespan (which goes all the way back to 323 BC!).
Laura, Online Conversion Executive
The Happy Manifesto: Make Your Organisation a Great Workplace – Now!, Henry Stewart
The Happy Manifesto is possibly one of the best books you could read as an HR manager or company owner. It’s a short read (less than 200 pages) yet thoroughly enjoyable and crammed full of inspiring ideas as Henry Stewart, CEO of Happy Ltd, details his fresh and innovative approach to management.
Whilst some of the ideas seem a tad on the radical side, the tips and real-life examples are sure to inspire you and get you thinking about your own company. With an impressive list of ‘best workplace’ awards under their belt and proven evidence of the numerous benefits of a great company culture, you’d be mad to miss it!
Mathew, Head of Content
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
Easily dismissed as a simple children’s book (albeit a well loved one), Roald Dahl’s 1964 classic is actually a tale of entrepreneurialism gone awry. The need for health and safety in the office, the importance of an efficient and engaged workforce, how to run social media competitions. It’s all covered in this darker-than-you-remember tale.
Michelle, Head of Marketing
64 Shots: Leadership in a Crazy World, Kevin Roberts
Being a prolific reader – what I LOVE about this book is how it brings together some of the greatest hands-on tips and theory gleaned from my growing library and mashes it together with Kevin’s extensive personal experience. There’s nothing flowery in here – just practical, hands-on ‘can do – do it’ wisdom. 64 shots – 64 stories – 64 gems (and 64 fabulous photos of those who have inspired him).
Sam Walton: Made In America, Sam Walton
This demonstrates how a man with good observational powers and a lot of fanaticism can outdo more established players. Sam Walton did not create many new things, he just implemented them better than everyone else. This book showed me how you will have a hard time if you are simply average. If you want to play the game you need to put in 100% effort or you will probably get nowhere (and even then it’s no guarantee of success).
Richard, Customer Service Agent
Kung Fu High School, Ryan Gatiss
Bring your blades. Back your family. Fight to survive. These are the rules for author Ryan Gattis’ book Kung Fu High School, a coming of age story based around a 15 year old girl named Jen who just happens to live in one of the toughest towns in the U.S.
Her life, which consists of looking after her brother and father, is flipped upside down when Jimmy, her undefeated kung fu champion cousin comes to live with them – just in time for the school martial arts tournament. The only thing is… Jimmy has taken an oath to his dead mother to never fight again. With this revelation, Jen’s daily choices of life or death, falling in love and leading a normal life just stepped up a notch.
The best way to describe Kung Fu High School is if the famed 80s director John Hughes, Quentin Tarantino and Takeshi Kitano got together and shared an LSD-fueled hyper kinetic dream. A take on the youth of today which doesn’t pull its punches when it comes to violence (both physical and emotional) and also shows the consequence of such actions, which is rarely shown or spoken about in other mediums.
So what’s this got to do with business? Everything! Mini-spoiler alert… the school is actually being run as a business by the corrupt mayor for his own purposes. The lesson is; don’t lose sight of your original intentions, in business it’s easy to go off-track.
Tom, Head of Products & Services
Fish!: A remarkable way to boost morale and improve results, Harry Paul
I remember browsing the bookshelves at an airport when this caught my eye; its bright cover and title weren’t like any business book I’d seen before. It was a quick and easy read, but the story of the market and the message about choosing your attitude and having fun at work have stuck with me for almost 15 years.
Zebedee, Customer Service Agent
Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook (Dungeons & Dragons Core Rulebooks)
Adventuring is business, and business is good! Whether you’re a barbarian sword-for-hire or a wandering half-ling bard, the D&D Player’s Handbook is the perfect solution to your fantasy startup. You’ll learn how to charm your clientele, intimidate your competition, and make your products enchanting! So don’t delay; pick up your broadsword and praise Pan today. Whatever your business idea, the D&D Player’s Handbook will make your fantasy a (fantasy) reality!
And on that note, that’s it for our list. We hope you’ve been inspired to pick a few of these up!