If you're busy running your own business — or laying the groundwork to launch a startup — it's impossible to find the time to read the bevy of books published each year on business and leadership. But choosing the right titles is important to gaining those valuable insights that could translate into success. So, in order to help all the literary-minded entrepreneurs out there narrow down their immense reading lists, Business News Daily asked business professionals, entrepreneurs, investors and scholars what their favorite business reads of 2015 (so far) are and why.
Here are some of the responses we received, in alphabetical order.
"Ask" by Ryan Levesque
"This book is simple in that it lays out exactly why consumer research groups don't work, [as well as] the why and how to ask our clients what they want from us. In section two, [Levesque] lays out the process in somewhat technical terms, but he is essentially giving us what is missing in so many books: actionable steps we can take to reproduce his success." — Michele Jennae, owner, Perpetual Career Management.
"Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear" by Elizabeth Gilbert
"[Big Magic] teaches that we've all got creativity inside of us, but you have to work at uncovering it. And once you do – and start expressing it ─ that's when you're going to be the happiest in life. In short, go do the things you enjoy, for no reason other than you enjoy doing them. This book is valuable … because it helps to open your eyes on what really matters in life and how important it is to overcome your fears, as well as [demonstrate] new ways to release your own inner creativity and start getting things done. Plus, [Gilbert is] a funny writer that makes it an easy read." — Travis Bennett, managing director of Studio Digita
"Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World" by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler
"This book depicts how technologies are disrupting today's Fortune 500 companies and empowering upstart entrepreneurs to disrupt every niche space in industries. Currently the top-selling book in Amazon's Crowdfunding category, this book depicts how to think creatively to tap into venture capital communities and crowdfunding campaigns in order to grow capital needed to propel your business venture forward." — Shreyans Parekh, co-founder and VP, Koyal Wholesale
"Content Inc." by Joe Pulizzi
"[Content Inc.] actually charts the course of why content marketing is not new. In doing so, Pulizzi ties in stories about how companies, decades ago, put the production of valuable content above interruptive advertising, and why they are rolling in the success as a result. Customers are better than ever at cutting through the advertising nonsense, and there's no better way to build brand trust and loyalty than through providing content that customers – and potential customers – can use to improve some part of their lives. 'Content Inc.,' for me, paints that picture better than any book before it." — Cameron Conaway, content marketing manager, Flow
"Driving Demand" by Carlos Hidalgo
"'Driving Demand' is a must-read for executives, marketing and sales teams whose companies sell to other businesses. Carlos tackles one of the biggest challenges in today's business environment: building a consistent, scalable demand function. There is a lot of content on the topic, but what makes this book stand out is the constant presentation of real-world examples and the use of cases that allow the reader to understand the concepts. When you are finished with the book you will be ready to launch your demand program right away." — Craig Rosenberg, chief analyst, TOPO
"Oasis: In Search of Extraordinary Business Growth Overseas" by Evaristo Doria, David Bruce and Pedro Carillo
"This book describes, in a precise and direct way, a very interesting environmental-based argument about the drivers and consequences of international business.…" — Professor Rodrigo Bandeira de Mello, associate professor of strategy and coordinator of the International Business Research Forum at Getulio Vargas Foundation
"Speakrets: The 30 Best, Most Effective, Most Overlooked Marketing and Personal Branding Essentials" by Ruth Sherman
"What I like about Speakrets are its bite-size nuggets about all types of communication. The book is divided into three sections: Private Speakrets, Business Speakrets and Public Speakrets. The author is a long-time communications coach, so she writes with a good deal of authority and experience. [The book] ranges from how to listen to what to wear to how to give a good speech to how to handle media interviews and that new skill, on-camera presentation. What I like most about it is that it is infused with the author's warmth and confidence that anyone can improve in any of these areas, if they're willing to put some work in." — Janice Reese, strategic marketing and social engagement, Network PDF Cloud Inc.
"The Content Code" by Mark Schaefer
"'The Content Code' brings actionable advice and techniques to your digital marketing plan. Schaefer’s information is relevant and straight-to-the-point, covering content marketing, digital advertising and social media. For any business owner, executive or marketer, 'The Content Code' is a must read for 2015." — Jordani Sarreal, founder and CEO, Zebra Social
"Triggers" by Marshall Goldsmith
"'Triggers' by Marshall Goldsmith gets my vote. This is a book that is designed to create behaviors that last. [At its] core, the book [suggests] you answer these questions every day and grade yourself 1 – 10, with 10 being the highest. The questions all begin with 'Did I do my best to …' [and include] have clear goals; make progress toward goal achievement; find meaning; be happy; build positive relationships; be fully engaged? I have been answering these questions now every day for several weeks and it is beginning to make a difference." — Thomas F. Scanlon, CPA, CFP(r), Borgida & Company P.C.; Raymond James Financial Services Inc.
"X: The Experience When Business Meets Design" by Brian Solis
"[This is] a valuable book because it repositions the idea of customer service. It's not just something that you should provide or must provide to succeed, but rather something you need to provide with a commitment to improving the customer experience with every interaction. Solis draws on a number of global examples … to illustrate exactly why the customer experience is key to business success, and he offers plenty of practical advice on how processes and systems can be redesigned to place the customer experience at the center of the entire business." — Dylan Kissane, content manager, DOZ