Good books for business owners

Books and resources that were pivotal to my business education.   Besides being good books, they reflect our values and approach to business.

Getting Things Done, by David Allen

This should be basic training when you start learning.

Your mind immediately starts working when you have an idea to accomplish or act on it, and doesn’t stop until it’s done.  Time doesn’t really exist for this part of your brain. By deciding on a next action for each goal, and putting it in writing (in a “trusted system” ) so you know you will be reminded at the appropriate time, you can clear your mind to focus on the present task.  The slight effort involved in identifying the next action keeps your mind from presenting the goal in an endless loop.

There is much more, and if you are interested I suggest starting with the podcasts on their site –

The E-Myth, by Michael Gerber

This book has what every small business person should have known before they started their business.  Every tech or workman who starts a business wears 3 hats: technician, administrator, and visionary.  How do you balance and fulfill all these roles well?  There is a whole consulting industry around this book.

 Honest Business (out of print?)  by Rasberry and Phillips

Small business owners that succeed have “tradeskill”, a combination of skills and habits that include the following: persistence, ability to face facts, minimizing risk, and hands-on learning.   You don’t learn this in school, or from a book. You learn it by being around people who have it, watching and absorbing how they run a business.

These people were part of the Briarpatch network, a group of small business people who wanted to make the world better through business. Many of my business values were influenced by this approach – Open books, Starting small,  building community as the core of marketing, social responsibility, business as a way to serve.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Covey

This is another classic book that should be part of everyone’s basic education.  These are the basic principles of personal success, about as clear as it gets.

Here’s a quick summary, hopefully enough to get you interested:

Our character is a composite of our habits. Changing habits is hard, but can be done by tremendous commitment.

A (good) habit can be defined as the intersection of knowledge, skill and desire. Change is a cycle of being and seeing (visualization).

Our objective is to move progressively on a maturity continuum from dependence to independence to interdependence. Although independence is the current paradigm of our society, we can accomplish much more by cooperation and specialization. However, we must achieve independence before we can choose interdependence.

Habits 1, 2 and 3 (Be Proactive, Begin With The End In Mind, Put First Things First) deal with self mastery. They are the “private victories” required for character growth. Private victories precede public victories.

Habits 4, 5 and 6 are the more personality-oriented “public victories” of Teamwork, Cooperation and Communication.

Habit 7 is the habit of Renewal, creating an upward spiral of growth.

Effectiveness lies in balancing our Production (P) with building Production Capacity (PC).

Organizationally, the PC principle is to always treat your employees as you want them to treat your best customers. We must understand that the best contributions of our employees – their hearts and minds – are as volunteers, because they want to.

This process of growth will be evolutionary, but the net effect will be revolutionary.

The Trusted Advisor by Maister, Green & Galford

My favorite part of this book is the “trust equation”:
Trustworthiness = (Credibility + Reliability + Intimacy ) / Self-orientation
Being a good consultant means being trustworthy to your clients.  This book talks about earning the trust of your clients, and the implications for running a business.

I encourage everyone we hire to master these concepts, in addition to their technical skill set.


About Tim Torian, Torian Group, Inc.

Tim Torian is the owner and president of Torian Group Inc. He was recognized as Entrepreneur of the year for 2008 by the Tulare County EDC. He is a Cisco CCNA and CCAI, and a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer. He has a BS Degree in Computer Science, and has been working with computers since 1973 (over 35 years). He is a consultant on technology for the Central California Small Business Development Center. He is has taught at College of Sequoias and Cal Poly Extension, and is President of the local Network Admistrators User's group. Tim provides network and design services to clients, and manages the company.
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