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World Book Day: the best business books for inspiration

Once upon a time there was a World Book Day. And that day is today! Of course it’s fantastic that there’s a worldwide celebration of literature but why should small businesses care?

Well, that’s an easy one. Almost any business owner will tell you that at least some part of their success has been inspired by reading a great book, business or otherwise. We asked four business owners at different stages of their career to share the books that inspired them.

Don’t waste your time on bull shit business plans.

Ignore advice. Burn market research.

Put everything on the line for what you believe in.

That’s the mantra you’ll find in BrewDog founder James Watt’s book Business For Punks. Whether that resonates with you or not, the inspiration you’re searching for is out there. Meet the business owners and the books that inspired them.

Free Agent Nation

Emma Jones, is an author and founder of Enterprise Nation. Now spearheading the UK’s top business support network, it seems she has always shared good advice:

“The book that inspired me to start Enterprise Nation is called Free Agent Nation (see the influence in the name!) Written by US author, Dan Pink, this is the book I read, immediately bought 10 copies, and sent to others who I thought needed to know about the self-employment boom that was about to hit the UK. Pink was a pioneer in spotting the trend, writing the book, and foreseeing much of the infrastructure that underpins the entrepreneurial economy today.”

Atlas Shrugged

Robert Garner is the founder of Media Square, an established small business that has been operating successfully for four years. Rob recommends a classic:

“Ayn Rand was one the 20th Century’s most highly regarded and controversial economists and philosophers. Atlas Shrugged, one of her most famous works, is a truly inspiring novel. At one point it was the second best selling book next to the Bible. It’s such an inspiring piece for any new business owner or entrepreneur, glorifying hard work and holding steadfast to your ideals. It’s a very long read but well worth it!”

The Lean Startup

Ben Mason is the founder of Masons Beans, a young small business that produces fresh, tasty baked beans. It’s an exciting time for Ben and his beans as he recently won investment from Nick Jenkins on Dragon’s Den. He wants you to learn from his mistake:

“I avoided reading The Lean Startup by Eric Ries because I heard it mentioned so frequently that it felt like a cliché. I was so wrong – it’s a bona fide instruction book for how best to innovate, whether in a startup or a big company. It’s absolutely crucial. If I’d read it two years ago, I’d have saved myself two years and a lot of cash.”

Made To Stick

Helen Cole is the co-founder of Faraway, an app that’s launching in March. She and co-founder Alex Robshaw hope the app will provide a way for like-minded travellers to share their experiences and ‘hidden gems’ with one another. She says her reading habits are changing as she gets closer to launch

“We both love a business book. Whilst we’re busy launching, the focus has shifted away from autobiographies onto those that give us takeaways we can put into practice straight away. One of our favourites is Made To Stick by Chip and Dan Heath, which is about making your messages engaging, impactful and impossible to forget. Who doesn’t need that superpower?”


Hopefully you now have a few more books to add to your reading list. To explore the best phones and tablets for reading, visit the O2 Business Shop.

For free, impartial business tech help and advice, why not book a session with an O2 Guru? They’re available online, in store and over the phone.

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