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The best business books to read or listen to in 2020 and why

Everyone is busy and probably doesn’t read as many books as they would like, me being one of those people. The one thing that revolutionised my learning was buying a portable speaker and a subscription to Audible.

Rather than having to find time in the day to sit quietly and read, adding audiobooks into a routine without actually changing it has accelerated how many books I consume ten fold.

Rather than regurgitate a review of a book you could find anywhere online and list as many as I can, I will give a short key takeaway and how the author’s thoughts impacted my thinking about my business and why you should apply the same thinking.

Here are the best business books for 2020.

1. Make your business more productive

The first book is The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss. The reason for choosing this book as the first on my list is the profound effect it had on how I viewed productivity and the start of making significant personal and professional changes. Reading this on a 6 week break in Asia, it was a chance to reset and think about the future direction of ikon.

Key takeaway - Don’t try and do everything. Employ people to do tasks that take you away from high level activity regardless of how trivial.

2. Avoid distractions at all costs

A huge part of productivity is minimising distractions and why Deep Work by Cal Newport is influential. The book can be hard going but the overall message of blocking out portions of time to really focus on deep work is key.

It’s all about creating value over shallow work like sending email, using social media or meetings for meetings sake. In relation to ikon, creating articles as part of a content marketing plan to inspire and educate will be far more valuable in the long term.

Key takeaway - Spend more time in environments to encourage more focused work without any distractions and get more done.

3. Marketing your business is about positioning in the mind

A book recommendation from Julian Hearn, the founder of Huel. Within four years of launch the company is valued at £220m and The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries, Jack Trout was influential. In branding and marketing, positioning your business correctly in the market is vital to success.

The book discusses how you need to be first in the mind for your particular offering as once someone has associated a company or brand as the best, it’s almost impossible to convince them otherwise.

Key takeaway - Be first in the mind of a customer. If you can’t be first, be second and if you can’t do that, find another niche.

4. The book for having a lean business mentality

The book Company of One by Paul Jarvis is next and similar to the model we have at ikon. We have seen many businesses look to expand quickly and are burdened with overheads creating an uphill battle to stay afloat.

Paul recommends only employing more people until absolutely essential and utilise freelancers up until this point when you have proven there is a continual need for an extra employee. Only expand after the sales come in and definitely not the reverse.

Key takeaway - Keep a simple and lean approach if you want an enjoyable lifestyle outside of your business.

5. How to create a business centred around a key person of influence

I have read a few books written by Daniel Priestley and the one that resonated the most was Key Person of Influence. So much so I attended one of his strategy sessions that leads to working with his company to help entrepreneurs implement a plan to be seen as someone of influence in their industry.

Even though this is a pitch to lead his course, it’s key to understand how to position yourself through pitching, publishing and developing your product ecosystem. The final element is how to maintain strategic partnerships to benefit everyone involved. People buy from people and this is putting the key person at the very centre.

Key takeaway - Leverage yourself as a personal brand and build a team around you to become influential in your industry.

6. The book to grow your business through quality content

There is always the argument which is more important, branding or marketing. One book that demonstrates how powerful publishing is in marketing to your audience is Epic Content Marketing by Joe Pulizzi.

There are plenty of examples of businesses that have mastered content and you really can’t argue with the return on investment but it’s not for the faint-hearted. It can take years to see real results but the thought an article can produce thousands of views to your site month after month for multiple years is very appealing. Just don’t underestimate the importance of good design, high quality content and an understanding of SEO.

Key takeaway - Executing a successful content marketing plan can see a significant return for your business. Build on your website not on platforms you don’t own.

7. Your business is not as amazing as you think it is

Most entrepreneurs think their business is the best thing since sliced bread but we must always remember Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t which is the next book by Steven Pressfield. It’s a harsh reality that is meant to help you develop empathy so you educate or inspire a reader for giving up their time.

I will relate this back to branding which is what we do and brand strategist Marty Neumeier: ‘Brand is not what you say it is. It’s what they say it is.’ What you write and how you present your business is important but what’s important is what you can do for your audience.

Key takeaway - Remember why are you writing. Focus on what’s in it for the audience and reduce the message to the clearest, simplest form.

8. Without sales you have no business

Everyone dislikes a pushy salesman and it’s probably one of the reasons people hate sales, they don’t want to be that person. In his book Fanatical Prospecting, Jeb Blount advocates how effective sales and prospecting are especially when done correctly. I am not a salesman in the typical sense but with sales and marketing, every entrepreneur needs to understand every time you pitch or meet someone you are selling yourself to people.

It’s the same in most things in life, not everyone is going to want what you are selling so it’s obvious you will be met with a certain amount of rejection but it’s how you muster the energy to go above and beyond and just make one more call, or reach out to one more person that can be a deciding factor to your success.

Key takeaway - Nobody likes rejection but to grow your business, sales are vital so brush off the fear of rejection and accept it’s all part of the process.

This article is written by Alex Colley, Creative Director of ikon | We are a boutique branding & creative agency – but not in the traditional sense. We hand-pick a team from our experienced creatives to suit each project, delivering a personal and bespoke service. Alex is always the lead contact every step of the way and our clients include the likes of Cartier, Westfield, Porsche, & F1.

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