As new business owners, people often ask us where we draw our inspiration from. To give you a little background, we come from a family of entrepreneurs and made our own first attempt at creating a start-up company when we were in middle school. Ian and I then went onto college to study business with an emphasis in entrepreneurship. Not only are we inspired by our family and professors that we’ve learned from, but we are also energized by reading books and furthering our knowledge. There are several novels that we have found incredibly motivating and impactful as new business owners.
Here is our list of Top 5 books that we would recommend to aspiring entrepreneurs:
- Zero to One by Peter Theil
- Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss
- High Output Management by Andrew Grove
- The Hard Things About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
- Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell.
Zero to One by Peter Theil
A favorite quote of ours by Peter Theil is:
Brilliant thinking is rare, but courage is in even shorter supply than genius.
The premise of Zero to One is that we need to create new ideas to create a better future. Theil argues that the development of technology is horizontal, making improvements on already existing ideas. Creating something new can move the world forward from Zero to One. For us at Sharp Capital, our mission is to automate the invoicing process in construction finance with our software, inBuild, as you learned while reading our last blog post. Construction has just recently begun moving in a digitalized direction. With inBuild, our artificial intelligence and data capturing technologies will move construction finances in a vertical direction.
Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss
Negotiation serves two distinct, vital life functions—information gathering and behavior influencing—and includes almost any interaction where each party wants something from the other side. Your career, your finances, your reputation, your love life, even the fate of your kids—at some point all these hinge on your ability to negotiate.
The premise of Never Split the Difference is very well summarized in this quote, found on page 17 of Chapter 1. Voss explains that negotiation is present in all aspects of everyday life by sharing personal and professional anecdotes. By uncovering, modifying, or taking advantage of a counterpart’s emotional state, you can move your counterpart in the direction that advances your interests in negotiation.
High Output Management by Andrew Grove
A common rule we should always try to heed is to detect and fix any problem at the lowest-value stage possible
As new business owners, we find that it is critical to detect problems while they are small before they snowball into monumental issues. Being avid listeners and maintaining open communication with our team is crucial to our success. Andrew Grove is the former CEO of Intel. In High Output Management, he shares insight on what he has learned throughout his career. He focuses on how to increase managerial output, managerial productivity, and managing on a larger scale.
The Hard Things About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
The hard thing isn’t setting a big, hairy, audacious goal. The hard thing is laying people off when you miss the big goal. The hard thing isn’t hiring great people. The hard thing is when those “great people” develop a sense of entitlement and start demanding unreasonable things. The hard thing isn’t setting up an organizational chart. The hard thing is getting people to communicate within the organization that you just designed. The hard thing isn’t dreaming big. The hard thing is waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat when the dream turns into a nightmare.
In short, Horowitz argues that there is no correct formula or guidebook for those hard situations. This realistic portrait of the potential hardships of being a business owner, manager, or executive can help prepare you for the struggle that lies ahead and how to handle it when it comes.
Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell
The right way to talk to strangers is with caution and humility
Gladwell argues that we are inherently bad at understanding strangers. Lessons that we have taken away from Talking to Strangers are:
- We are not good at detecting when another person is lying
- Naturally, we are not good at reading others’ thoughts and emotions
- Everyone expresses their thoughts and emotions differently Most of the time we rely on our intuition, that gut feeling, and while sometimes it may be correct, most of the time it is false when it comes to understanding strangers.