3 Ways Business Books Changed My Working Style for The Better

09/08/2021 Off By Nellie Dingus

Whether it’s 2021 or 1951, the cheapest and most effective way of exposing yourself to new ideas in business is by picking up a great business or economics book.

The age of the internet, and all the information formations that have appeared alongside such as tweets, blog posts and long-form articles, hasn’t changed this fact.

How is this the case? Well, tweets are too short and simple to make a lasting impact. Twitter effectively devolves the role of ‘curator’ to the masses; hoping that great ideas will be shared far and wide, while dull or useless content will not find a widespread audience. I will leave you to decide how well that idea has turned out. However, I would suggest that refreshing the homepage of Twitter is not exactly a five-star educational experience.

Blog posts and long-form content are closer to books; however, they don’t capture the attention of the reader in the same way. Blog posts are also rarely ‘put down and picked back up’. Once a viewer leaves a webpage, they will rarely return.

Compare that to a book that allows you to put it down when convenient and will allow you to pick up exactly where you left off and continue the learning journey just as the author intended when you can spare more time. This equates a book to a learning experience that allows you to participate only when you can give it your full attention. It’s no wonder that books are still punching above their weight in 2021.

1.Single-mindedness gets results – Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance

Elon Musk is a business book biography written by Ashlee Vance. Originally a semi-authorised title although Elon later withdrew his endorsement of the title.

Ashlee’s account of Elon Musk’s personality has taught me that tempered pursuit of business objectives will not create the type of business which will beat the competition. In the modern business environment, competition has never been stronger.

2.Businesses who aren’t fighting to stay ahead will be left behind

The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen taught me about the competitive forces driving the economy.

Due to ease of access to tech and capital, it has never been easier to start a business and enter a market. For businesses operating in a market, this is a severe threat that hangs over how those businesses operate. No longer can a good idea keep a business ticking over for several decades. Now, businesses need to continue to innovate every year to maintain their advantage and returns to shareholders.

This can be seen from the way that several high-profile restaurant groups in the UK entered administration despite trading reasonably well. The cause was that so many well-funded restaurants had entered the market that they had bid up the price of leases and saturated the market. So, while people were eating out more than ever, apparently successful businesses were beginning to show signs of financial stress and collapse into bankruptcy.

3.Expect the unexpected

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb is one of those business books which was widely discussed in media and academic circles after its publication.

After the world witnessed an extremely severe financial meltdown in the form of the 2008-09 financial crisis, people were looking for answers. Why were ‘once in a lifetime event apparently happening every decade? This felt counterintuitive.

The Black Swan communicated the idea that while these events were indeed incredibly aware, as a society we were permanently underestimating the frequency with which once in a lifetime event will occur. Given that there are almost infinite crises and disasters that could occur at any moment, there is an abundance of misfortune.

The business lesson here is the need for caution. Plans should always account for unknown unknowns; events that might happen and which we have not conceived. Of course, you cannot plan specifically for an outcome that you cannot visualise, but you can add some caution to budgets, forward-looking estimates to factor in the fact that over long-time horizons and large samples – something will definitely go wrong.

This is just a sample of the lessons I have learned from the best business books available online and in stores over the last few years. What have you learned from reading business books?