Successful business owners never stop learning and always stay open to innovation. There’s an easy way to tap into the ideas you need to grow your business and overcome your thorniest challenges: Read.
If you are like most ISVs, however, you don’t have time to read 20 books hoping one is a winner, so here are recommendations for books that will be more than worth your time, providing you with the valuable information — and inspiration — you need.
The Automatic Customer by John Warrillow
This book is filled with specific details about subscription model best practices and provides resources specifically for ISVs that can help you generate more recurring revenue. One of my favorite passages from the book is “Whether you like it or not, you are now competing in the new subscription economy, and it’s up to you to decide if you’re playing defense or offense.”
Built To Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies by Jim Collins and Jerry Porris
In Built to Last, the legendary Jim Collins and Jerry Porris provide you with guidance on how to build your business and innovate so you can adapt for the future. The authors advise you to concentrate on shoring up your organization, rather than hitting the market at the right time with a visionary product and riding the growth curve. Collins and Porris point out, “All products, services, and great ideas, no matter how visionary, eventually become obsolete. But a visionary company does not necessarily become obsolete, not if it has the organizational ability to continually change and evolve beyond existing product lifecycles.”
Dual Transformation by Scott Anthony, Clark Gilbert, and Mark Johnson
Dual Transformation is one of the most powerful business strategy books I’ve read. It talks about harnessing disruption to reposition your business for the future. The authors point out, “Creating a new business from scratch is hard, but executives of incumbents have the dual challenge of creating new businesses while simultaneously staving off never-ending attacks on existing operations.” Dual Transformation offers guidance for the journey to transform your business into one that can survive disruptive changes.
Speaking of disruptive changes, Disrupt You! provides a different perspective on that topic: You can think of it as an opportunity to reshape your business to maintain relevancy and maybe even get an edge on your competition. Samit writes, “To stay relevant, you must keep your career in permanent beta. That means committing to a lifetime of learning and professional growth, a lifetime of strategic adaptation.”
The Great Game of Business by Jack Stack
Advice in this book can lead to sustainable growth, increased productivity, and lower employee turnover for ISVs. It helps you find ways to develop “clear, effective, and open communication” throughout your company and to encourage employees to take ownership of their projects. Stack writes, “Owners, real owners, don’t have to be told what to do – they can figure it out for themselves. Ownership is not a set of legal rights. It’s a state of mind.” The principles outlined in The Great Game of Business are foundational for companies that strive for long-term growth.
The List Goes On
If you’re looking for a book on a different topic, I’m happy to make additional recommendations. For more than a decade, I have dedicated time each week to leadership-based reading, and I’ve kept a list of the books I’ve found most valuable in categories such as customer service, business strategy, hiring, leadership, and management.
Is one of your favorites missing from my list? Let me know. I’m always looking for a good read.