The world has shut down, and if you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner, you’re probably struggling. In my world (the world of health and fitness), many businesses are not going to survive. The same is true for anyone large enough to have staff and other bills to pay, but too small to get giant bailouts or lean on private and public funds for survival. The diverse ‘in-betweeners’ that we need more of, especially at a time like this, will suffer most.
If there is one thing you have more time for right now, it’s reading (or some other form of information consumption). Learning x Action is going to be your best shot at pivoting your business and coming out on the other side in one piece, so you’d best get to it. Since the beginning of this lockdown, I’ve read six books on my phone while holding a baby. These also happen to be the only six books I have ever read on an electronic device. When things change, you adapt and make the most of it.
While I would not consider myself an ‘expert’ in entrepreneurship, I am indeed an experienced enthusiast. I have run my own ever-evolving business for 12 years now, I am an avid learner and consumer of information, and I have my M.B.A. specializing in entrepreneurship and management. I can act as a decent filter for information, and that is what I am doing for you right now in this blog post.
Here are a few of my personal rules that you should know about before you read this list
- can’t take advice from people I couldn’t see myself hanging out with for more than five minutes. Regardless of how brilliant a person may be, if s/he rubs me the wrong way, I can’t take his or her advice seriously. I’m not sure if this is wise or idiotic on my part, but I can’t seem to get around it.
- I do not take business advice from academics (who weren’t first business people). Academics who don’t have any real-world business experience are reductionistic nerds without a real concept of what is happening out there. Follow their advice at your own peril.
- I also do not take industry advice from internet gurus who seem to be better at internet marketing of the consulting they sell than they are at actually doing the thing they are telling you to do. If you haven’t accomplished what I am trying to accomplish, there is no way for you to coach me
With that out of the way, if you are struggling, or if you are on your way to struggling, here are some resources that can help you save your business, or at the very least, make you a more resilient person if it all comes crashing down.
Books you should read
There are a few good business books out there for entrepreneurs. There are even more good books that can help you build character, and thus, indirect success in business. There are also a few books that seem as though they were explicitly written for a time like this. Here is my reading list for all three categories.
Regardless of what your future holds, you get to decide how you handle it and what you make it mean. These books will help you write the best ending to your life story.
Inspiring Entrepreneurial Biographies
Some people in this world are straight-up gangsters when it comes to bootstrapping their lives. Here are two of those fantastic stories.
If real business advice is what you need right now, here are a few books I highly recommend.
Specific to Current Chaos
If you feel as though you’ve just been hit by a Mack truck, these books will explain what the hell just happened and give you some perspective on the matter.
Not everyone is a reader. If you fall into this category, you should rethink that trait. In the meantime, here are a few podcasts that can be inspiring and helpful when it comes to business.
My last piece of advice is as follows: do not be an over-consumer and an under-applier of information. And believe me, unless you are in the .001% of intellects in this world, if you’re the first, you’re also the last. I have been down the road of believing reading fifty books is better than reading five, and all that left me with was a scattered mind and shallow learning. Find 1-5 books that speak to you and read them each 5-10 times. It’s a better strategy for growth.
Remember that failure only becomes a reality once you’ve given up. If that sounds silly to you, perhaps this Taoist tale can help
There is a Taoist story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.
“Maybe,” the farmer replied.
The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbours exclaimed.
“Maybe,” replied the old man.
The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbours again came to offer their sympathy for what they called his “misfortune.”
“Maybe,” answered the farmer.
The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbours congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.
“Maybe,” said the farmer.
You story isn’t over until you’re dead and buried. Every scene before the final take is just what makes the ending interesting.