Ever consider going back to school for your MBA and then life takes over and you realize it’s not a feasible option? Or maybe you determined, wisely, that the $100,000 to $200,000 for a two-year program isn’t really worth it. Regardless of why, some folks apparently feel a little down about it – and they shouldn’t.
Smart entrepreneurs are educating themselves and using that money to start their own businesses or invest it in stocks instead. How? Well, here are fifteen books that will leave you wondering why you ever considered an MBA to begin with! Even better? They’re perfect to add to an online library for your team to access through a collaborative work management platform and educate themselves as well! Win, win all around!
1. Rework by Jason Fried and David Hansson
Written by the guys behind 37signal.com, Rework isn’t your standard business book. It provides real-world applications and advice to anyone thinking about launching their own business. After reading Rework, you’ll most likely rethink how you approach customers and create a business strategy. Or, as Mark Cuban said it, “If given a choice between investing in someone who has read REWORK or has an MBA, I’m investing in REWORK every time. This is a must read for every entrepreneur.”
Awesome quote: “If you’re opening a hot dog stand, you could worry about the condiments, the cart, the name, the decoration. But the first thing you should worry about is the hot dog. The hot dogs are the epicenter. Everything else is secondary.”
2. The One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson
The techniques and advice shared in this bestselling book from 1981 have been used by countless managers. It clearly and simply defines what a great manager should do and how to become one with methods backed by behavioral science.
Awesome quote: “Take a minute: look at your goals, look at your performance, see if your behavior matches your goals.”
3. My Years With General Motors by Alfred Sloan
Written by the former CEO of General Motors and published in 1963, this book has been called the best business book written by the likes of Bill Gates. In it, Sloan details how he turned General Motors into an industry giant, while also providing actionable insights on management, marketing, accounting, and organization.
Awesome quote: “We have elected, as a large corporation, to build quality products sold at fair prices and while there are other in the industry who do not quite follow this policy, I am sure that we are in pretty general agreement that this is the correct policy. At the same time, however, we must admit that such a policy throws the added responsibility upon our sales departments to get the cost of quality plus a profit on quality.”
4. The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham
Originally published in 1949, The Intelligent Investor is an essential book for investors. In it, Graham discusses value investing, which is a concept he began teaching at Columbia Business School in 1928. Since its release it been revised several times and has been heralded by the successful investors like Warren Buffet.
Awesome quote: “The intelligent investor is a realist who sells to optimists and buys from pessimists.”
5. The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business by Josh Kaufman
Josh Kaufman founded PersonalMBA.com to provide an alternative to expensive and outdated MBA programs. In the best-selling book version, Kaufman outlines four concepts: The Iron Law of the Market, The 12 Forms of Value, The Pricing Uncertainty Principle, and Methods to Increase Revenue to assist anyone interested in business.
Awesome quote: “Every successful business (1) creates or provides something of value that (2) other people want or need (3) at a price they’re willing to pay, in a way that (4) satisfies the purchaser’s needs and expectations and (5) provides the business sufficient revenue to make it worthwhile for the owners to continue operation.”
6. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t by Jim Collins
How are certain companies able to endure while others shut their doors forever? That’s why Jim Collins wanted to know, and ultimately discovered in this book. Collins and his research team analyzed the history of 28 different companies and discovered the characteristics and strategies that make them great.
Awesome quote: “Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. We don’t have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don’t have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life.”
7. Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors by Michael E. Porter
This is an absolute must for any financial professional because it explains the five forces of competition: power of buyers, power of suppliers, rivalry, threat of new entrants, and threat of substitutions. With this knowledge, readers can effectively create a business strategy to help them stand out from the pack.
Awesome quote: “Many companies do not collect information about competitors in a systematic fashion, but act on the basis of informal impressions, conjectures, and intuition gained through the tidbits of information about competitors every manager continually receives. Yet the lack of good information makes it very hard to do sophisticated competitor analysis.”
8. How to Lie With Statistics by Darren Huff
This brief book full of illustrations is a great introduction, and refresher, into the errors that come with interrupting statistics and tips on how to see through the smoke and mirrors. As The Atlantic states, “A pleasantly subversive little book, guaranteed to undermine your faith in the almighty statistic.”
Awesome quote: “The secret language of statistics, so appealing in a fact-minded culture, is employed to sensationalize, inflate, confuse, and oversimplify.”
9. The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael Gerber
Inc. Magazine proclaimed Michael Gerber as “The World’s #1 Small Business Guru”. So, his experience and advice in The E-Myth should definitely not be taken lightly as he takes you through the steps of starting, and eventually successfully running, a business.
Awesome quote: “Contrary to popular belief, my experience has shown me that the people who are exceptionally good in business aren’t so because of what they know but because of their insatiable need to know more.”
10. The Art of the Sale: Learning from the Masters About the Business of Life by Philip Delves Broughton
Bestselling author Philip Delves Broughton traveled the world to discover the secrets and methods from the most-successful sales gurus. What Delves Broughton discovers through his journeys is that it takes tenacity to be successful in business – no matter how great a product or service is.
Awesome quote: “Selling is hard to teach because it is about what exists in your head and what goes on in your whole life. The objective in sales becomes the same as that in the rest of your life, to respect others and do best for them. Then you don’t have to be a salesperson about what you do. Selling becomes an activity consistent with who you are. (From Mrs. Shibata, the top salesperson in Japan)”
Written by the Chief Global Economist at The Economic Outlook Group, this book has already become a classic best-seller – despite only being around for a decade. It will help you better understand economic data and examine global economic indicators. According to Hugh Johnson, Chairman and Chief Investment Officer at Hugh Johnson Advisors, “Every businessperson or investor should keep a copy of Baumohl’s book close at hand. It is great, at long last, to have someone who has eliminated what may have been so perplexing to so many and to have done so with such remarkable clarity.”
Awesome quote: “No single indicator can provide a complete picture of what the economy is up to. Nor is there a simple combination of measures that provides a connect-the-dots path to the future. At best, each indicator can give you a snapshot of what conditions are like within a specific sector of the economy at a particular point in time. Ideally, when you piece together all these snapshots, they should provide a clearer picture of how the economy is faring and offer clues on where it is heading.”
12. The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield
Described as cross between Sun-Tzu’s The Art of War and Julie Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, novelist Steven Pressfield details the resistance that artists, athletes, entrepreneurs, and business owners face and how to overcome those barriers.
Awesome quote: “The professional has learned that success, like happiness, comes as a by-product of work. The professional concentrates on the work and allows rewards to come or not come, whatever they like.”
13. The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino
First published in 1968, Og Mandino’s classic sales book is a guide to the philosophy of salesmanship and success. It helps readers understand that you will never be successful in business if you are not able to sell your ideas, products, or services.
Awesome quote: “Obstacles are necessary for success because in selling, as in all careers of importance, victory comes only after many struggles and countless defeats. Yet each struggle, each defeat, sharpens your skills and strengths, your courage and your endurance, your ability and your confidence and thus each obstacle is a comrade-in-arms forcing you to become better… or quit. Each rebuff is an opportunity to move forward; turn away from them, avoid them, and you throw away your future.”
14. Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
Written by businessman and investor Robert Kiyosaki, Rich Dad Poor Dad has become the #1 Personal Finance book of all-time that has sold over 26 million copies. By looking back at Kiyosaki’s childhood, the book teaches readers the basics of personal finance and why you should start you own business.
Awesome quote: “I am concerned that too many people are focused too much on money and not on their greatest wealth, which is their education. If people are prepared to be flexible, keep an open mind and learn, they will grow richer and richer through the changes. If they think money will solve the problems, I am afraid those people will have a rough ride. Intelligence solves problems and produces money. Money without financial intelligence is money soon gone.”
15. The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick) by Seth Godin
For most of our professional careers, we’ve been told that if you work hard and are persistent – along with a little luck – you’ll find success. In Seth Godin’s tenth book, however, he explains why this is the wrong approach in an honest, motivational, and easy-to-digest approach.
Awesome quote: “Most of the time, we deal with the obstacles by persevering. Sometimes we get discouraged and turn to inspirational writing, like stuff from Vince Lombardi: ‘Quitters never win and winners never quit.’ Bad advice. Winners quit all the time. They just quit the right stuff at the right time.”
Are there other books you think should have made the list? Shout them out!