The book review in September's issue caused me to reflect on those books that I have read that I feel have provided me with useful information and tools. The world is not hurting for business books. It seems that once a week some self-proclaimed management guru is touting the latest technique to turn old companies around or to make any new enterprise a winner.
I have read my share of them and have found little in the way of useful information for my particular situation. Many of the books are targeted for established companies and have limited use for a struggling bootstrapper. Books geared for the startup seem biased toward high technology, multi-million-dollar venture-capital enterprises or for service-oriented businesses. (How many articles have you read lately about working at home or setting up a home office?) No book can cover every circumstance, but I'd like to read one about how to start a manufacturing company from scratch with little resources.
There are three books on disparate subjects that I feel have provided me with useful, quality information and tools. The first of these is "The Technique of Clear Writing" (no wise cracks please) by Robert Gunning, 2nd Edition, McGraw-Hill. I bought a copy in 1981 and do not know if it is still available. This book is simply the best material I have ever read on writing. The author provides a metric for judging if your writing is unclear. He calls it a "fog index". If you are serious about improving your writing skills buy this book.
The second book is the Dale Carnegie classic on how to stop worrying. If you have taken the Carnegie course, you have a copy. If you don't have a copy, borrow one or, better yet, take the course. An entrepreneur's life is complex and filled with uncertainty. There are any number of things to worry about. But worry is counterproductive and accomplishes nothing. The book helps put things in perspective and provides words to remember when the fretting gets out of hand.
The third book is still on the New York Times non-fiction bestseller list. It is "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People", by Stephen Covey, Simon and Shuster. If a person were to religiously practice the principles espoused in this book, he would certainly become a highly effective person. This is the best self-help book I have read. I am currently reading it again. Like most of us, I expect, I need to remind myself of what's important and what I need to do to become the best I can be.