Archive for April, 2010

10 Must Read Books for Young Entrepreneurs

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Came across this post on Under 30 CEO the other day and had to share it in full.  You can find the original post here.

Crush it – Gary Vaynerchuk


Do you have a hobby you wish you could indulge in all day? An obsession that keeps you up at night? Now is the perfect time to take that passion and make a living doing what you love. In Crush It! Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion, Gary Vaynerchuk shows you how to use the power of the Internet to turn your real interests into real businesses.

Gary spent years building his family business from a local wine shop into a national industry leader. Then one day he turned on a video camera, and by using the secrets revealed here, transformed his entire life and earning potential by building his personal brand. By the end of this book, readers will have learned how to harness the power of the Internet to make their entrepreneurial dreams come true.

Step by step, Crush It! is the ultimate driver’s manual for modern business.

The New Community Rules – Tamar Weinberg


Blogs, networking sites, and other examples of the social web provide businesses with a largely untapped marketing channel for products and services. But how do you take advantage of them? With The New Community Rules, you’ll understand how social web technologies work, and learn the most practical and effective ways to reach people who frequent these sites.Written by an expert in social media and viral marketing, this book cuts through the hype and jargon to give you intelligent advice and strategies for positioning your business on the social web, with case studies that show how other companies have used this approach.

Many consumers today use the Web as a voice. The New Community Rules demonstrates how you can join the conversation, contribute to the community, and bring people to your product or service.

Trust Agents – Chris Brogan and Julien Smith


This book is your guide to a new form of power broker–web natives who trade in trust, reputation, and relationships using tools you may never even have heard of. You will learn what you need to look for in such an agent for your business or how to become one yourself. Trust Agents is your guide to the deep end of meaningful relationships on the web.

The book explores how business people can use the Web’s new social software tools to build awareness, influence, reputation, and eventually authority. It focuses on methods of building trust and wielding influence, and how these efforts impact business processes and goals. In three parts, the book defines the landscape of this generation’s web, explains who trust agents are, and analyzes the mechanics of trust in today’s economy where reputation is key. Part career advice, part communications management, and part technology know-how, Trust Agents aims to deliver high level theory, actionable next steps, and stories and case studies to bolster the opinions and experiences of the authors.

Anatomy of Buzz Revisited – Emanuel Rosen


A new edition of the definitive handbook on word-of-mouth marketing, completely revised and updated for today’s online world. With two-thirds new material and scores of current examples from today’s most successful companies, The Anatomy of Buzz Revisited takes readers inside the world of word-of-mouth marketing and explains how and why it works. Based on over one hundred new interviews with thought leaders, marketing executives, researchers, and consumers, The Anatomy of Buzz Revisited shows how to:

* Generate genuine buzz both online and off.
* Encourage people to talk about your products and services—and help spread the word among their friends, colleagues, and communities.
* Adapt traditional word-of-mouth strategies in today’s era of Facebook, YouTube, and consumer-generated media.

Smart, surprising, and filled with cutting-edge strategies and insights, The Anatomy of Buzz Revisited is essential for anyone who wants to get attention for a product, message, or idea in today’s message-cluttered world.

Upstarts!: How GenY Entrepreneurs are Rocking the World of Business and 8 Ways You Can Profit from Their Success – Donna Fenn


Generation Y is creating startups at an unprecedented rate, and their approach to business is unlike anything you’ve seen. The generation described by the media as spoiled, entitled, even narcissistic, is proving these notions false every day. Inspired by the rock-star entrepreneurs of previous generations and driven by a burning desire to control their own destinies, GenY is rewriting the entrepreneurial playbook one cool startup at a time.

Inc. magazine writer Donna Fenn interviewed more than 150 young CEOs to learn what makes them tick. While upstarts are motivated by similar aspirations of past generations, their way of doing business is radically different—and it’s changing the way everyone must do business now.

Upstarts examines and analyzes this entrepreneurial revolution to reveal eight critical lessons every entrepreneur and marketer must learn. Fenn describes a generation of entrepreneurs that is highly collaborative and team-oriented. It’s quick and alert when it comes to new technologies. It’s hell-bent on changing the world. And it’s totally impatient with outmoded business models.

Viral Loop – Adam Penenberg


Many of the most successful Web 2.0 companies, including MySpace, YouTube, eBay, and rising stars like Twitter and Flickr, are prime examples of what journalist Adam L. Penenberg calls a “viral loop”–to use it, you have to spread it. After all, what’s the sense of being on Facebook if none of your friends are? The result: Never before has there been the potential to create wealth this fast, on this scale, and starting with so little.

In this game-changing must-read, Penenberg tells the fascinating story of the entrepreneurs who first harnessed the unprecedented potential of viral loops to create the successful online businesses–some worth billions of dollars–that we have all grown to rely on. The trick is that they created something people really want, so much so that their customers happily spread the word about their product for them.

All kinds of businesses–from the smallest start-ups to nonprofit organizations to the biggest multinational corporations–can use the paradigm-busting power of viral loops to enable their business through technology. Viral Loop is a must-read for any entrepreneur or business interested in uncorking viral loops to benefit their bottom line.

Career Renegade – Johnathan Fields

jonathan_fieldsRenegade in the title is appropriate, especially if readers are searching for a traditional career guide, which this is not. Instead, former high-powered New York City lawyer turned serial entrepreneur Fields leans heavily on the 75 percent of employees who are dissatisfied with their jobs. The first part involves discovering one’s secret passion, via a few exercises. What makes the journey with this author worthwhile are his sections on determining the exact work path (yes, via research on the Internet) and on developing a business. The references and ideas will inspire; he also interviews quite a few renewed careerists, whether it’s the tale of the young mother who started the Young Rembrandts franchise or an artist who found her passion in creating edible art through her family-owned Rivera Bakehouse. Part 3 zeroes in on honing online knowledge and creating an authority figure, via such social networks as MySpace or through blogging and word of mouth. –Barbara Jacobs

B-A-M!: Delivering Customer Service in a Self-Service World – Barry Moltz


BAM! Is a no nonsense book that teaches companies why they want to deliver effective customer service in this self-service world and how to do it The book debunks the 20 common myths of customer service-from “The customer is always right” to “Customer service means the same thing to everyone,” to “Companies achieve customer service by under-promising and over-delivering”-myths that too many companies use automatically to run their customer service practices and policies without ever questioning them. BAM! replaces myths with a tactical approach that shows companies how to make more money through attitudes and actions that will help their customers feel satisfied in good times or bad.Creating satisfied customers is the only enduring competitive advantage left in a world market where virtually everything is a commodity. Forget the customer service platitudes. The only reason a company should offer excellent customer service is because it will make money for the business.

Free: The Future of a Radical Price – Chris Anderson

free-chris-anderson1The New York Times bestselling author heralds the new future of business in Free. In his revolutionary bestseller, The Long Tail, Chris Anderson demonstrated how the online marketplace creates thriving niche markets, allowing products and eager consumers to connect in a way that has never been possible before. Now, in Free, he makes the compelling case that in many instances businesses can profit more from giving things away than they can by charging for them. In order to succeed in the twenty-first century economy, Free is more than a promotional gimmick: It’s a business strategy that is essential to a company’s successful future.

In Free,Chris Anderson explores this radical idea for the new economy, and demonstrates how this revolutionary price can be harnessed for the benefit of both consumers and business alike.

The Facebook Era: Tapping Online Social Networks to Build Better Products, Reach New Audiences, and Sell More Stuff – Clara Shih

facebookeracover-335x500The ‘90s were about the World Wide Web of information and the power of linking web pages. Today it’s about the World Wide Web of people and the power of the social graph. Online social networks are fundamentally changing the way we live, work, and interact. They offer businesses immense opportunities to transform customer relationships for profit: opportunities that touch virtually every business function, from sales and marketing to recruiting, collaboration to executive decision-making, product development to innovation. In The Facebook Era, Clara Shih systematically outlines the business promise of social networking and shows how to transform that promise into reality

Right this minute, more than 1.5 million people are on Facebook. They’re interacting with friends–and talking about your brands. They’re learning about your business–and providing valuable information you can use to market and sell. In the Facebook Era, you’re closer to your customers than ever before. Read this book, and then go get them!

Run Your Business Like A Drug Dealer

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“A.S.A.P. is poison. Underdo the competition. Meetings are toxic. Fire the workaholics. Emulate drug dealers. Pick a fight. Planning is guessing. Inspiration is perishable.”

And that’s just the back cover of Rework, the new book by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. The two founders of Chicago software firm 37Signals turn Management 101 on its head, where it gets a well-deserved headache. Their book is a manifesto for the new way work is getting done by small businesses, combined with a manual on how to do it.

And it’s really a relief. When I was in corporate America back in the day, we spent most of our time working brutal hours so we could be seen working brutal hours; obsessing about our competitors (I never really cared what they were doing but everyone else did, so I feigned equal paranoia just to get along); piling meetings on top of useless meetings, bemused that the CEO who called the meeting was always seriously late. That was the Eighties and Nineties. If you’re starting a business in 2010, consider yourself fortunate because you have much better models to emulate.

Rework is great on so many levels, from the economy of the writing to the great illustrations by Mike Rohde, which make the lessons it teaches resonate in a part of your brain the words don’t necessarily touch. There are scores of takeaways you can use right now. Just a couple of examples:

  • Resumes are pretty meaningless when it comes to hiring people. Customized cover letters that are crafted just for your company and perfectly executed are the things to look for. Then have a candidate work for you for a day or two and see how she behaves. That’s a much better indicator of future results than all the references and resume highlights in the world.
  • Hire people only when you are feeling the pain of the work. Remember the Internet era heyday when companies hired just so they could have really smart people? Fried and Hansson caution that bringing on people when there isn’t extremely important work for them to do right away is a disaster waiting to happen.
  • I love this one: when you write a project or business plan, the authors suggest using a fat Sharpie on a big sheet of paper or whiteboard, rather than using a pen or a word processor. Get the big picture right before starting on the fine points.
  • It’s a blessing that no one knows about your little company right now. Embrace obscurity rather than lament it, because your mistakes will only be known to a few. Later on, in the glare of the floodlights, you can’t hide.
  • Corporate heroics are just plain stupid. We’ve all seen the unnecessary all-nighters and the people who pull them just so others will notice their work ethic. If they’d done real work during the day, they could have clocked out at 5.  Less foosball, more work.
  • About emulating drug dealers: you have to give them this — they know how to market a specific product, create demand through sampling, and assure repeat customers who they then supply with excellent customer service. An odd profession to model but an interesting point.
  • People who just delegate and manage are pretty much washed out of the work force. Everyone has to do the work.
  • Don’t miss the opportunity to sell your business’s by-products. (Did you know Henry Ford took the wood chip waste from making Model T’s and processed it into charcoal, resulting in the Kingsford Charcoal brand? (Am I the only one who didn’t know this?) Rework is a by-product of 37Signal’s experience creating and selling software. It’ll be a bestseller, and will fuel even more sales of their software. Pretty clever.

If you like Rework, also read Seth Godin’s book, Linchpin. (Godin is quoted on the cover of Rework: “Ignore this book at your own peril.”) Godin focuses on the new definition of work and the power of individuals and companies to make themselves indispensable. And if you want to do a deep dive on the relationship aspect of customer retention, add this one to your list: Who’s Got Your Back by Keith Ferrazzi. Between these three books, you’ll have a very forward-thinking template for success in entrepreneurship and small business management.

Written By Mitchell York, Guide to Entrepreneurs