25 Tips for Entrepreneurs, Startups & Business Owners from the Entrepreneur’s Bookshelf

You’ve heard you are what you eat, well we believe that you are what you read. We receive hundreds of books to read to help out entrepreneurs and business owners but more than just offering a chance to hear about a book we believe we want you to walk away with some wisdom just like we did from reading these books.

Teach a CEO presents lessons from the Entrepreneur’s Bookshelf on how you can improve and grow your business venture. We have taken some nuggets from our library and provide them for entrepreneurs and business owners and to help your ventures.

Business Tips from The Bookshelf

  • The secret to the monks' success is not that they have managed to establish the mythical “healthy balance” between their personal and professional lives. The secret is that their personal, organization, and business lives are all subsets of their one, high, overarching mission–becoming the best human beings they can possibly be. (Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks)51IxsP8ZXUL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_
  • One simple technique for embracing the suck of any painful situation is to change your state by immediately focusing on something else that is positive…and then smiling or even laughing. (The Way of the Seal)
  • Society teaches us that if we want to get anywhere in life, we have to work on improving in the areas where we are weak. High achievers from all areas show us that is the exact opposite is true. They focus only on the half-full part of their circle of power, namely, their unique talents and strengths. They strategically complement themselves with the right kind of people to make up for their weaknesses in the empty half of the circle, the ones who are best at what they lack most. (Nothing is Impossible)
  • Startups fail for a variety of reasons, because they are launching high-impact business opportunities with high levels of technical, market, resource, and organization uncertainty. (Pivot)
  • Be persistent. Chances are you won't have a chance to pitch your idea right off the bat. Most buyers and licensees are very busy people, and they're guarded by gatekeeper dragons whose job may be to turn you away. Just be super-polite and friendly and get to know their name, too. This is where persistence comes in: You'll be making a lot of follow-up calls. (Idea to Invention)51P4ok9IS4L._SX258_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_
  • Selecting the right recover manager is critical. Avoid choosing someone currently involved with the project, as people involved in the project are too close to see the issues and may be perceived as biased by the stakeholders. At a minimum, the person doing the audit should be someone outside the extended project and unassociated with the project. An objective view is critical to a proper audience and reducing any preconceptions of a solution. The idea candidate is a seasoned, objective project manager who is external to the supplier and customer, has recovery experience, and a strong technical background. (Rescue the Problem Project)
  • The only guarantee with forecasting is that your forecast is wrong. You hear that a lot in the world of forecasting. But that doesn't mean you don't try. When it comes to planning your business, you often need some projection.  (Data Smart)
  • …female entrepreneurs have begun to replace Wall Street as a job creation engine for recent college grads. Lost of sharp kids are struggling to find work in the recession. Traditional suitors like consulting firms and banks aren't courting–and, as mentioned, college students who've seen their parents suffer in the financial crisis now disdain the establishment. (Stiletto Network)
  • 41sjI1ujtZL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_Well-stated goals are precise, positive, and written down. They are also measurable and have an associated, and appropriate time-frame: Too short and either they aren't meaty enough goals, or you're setting yourself up for failure; too long and your goals fall of the radar for lack of urgency. Your goals must be achievable in that you have the potential to accomplish them with the skills and resources available to you. (The Way of the Seal)
  • One common misconception among would-be entrepreneurs is thinking that a technology in and of itself is an opportunity. This often occurs with a startup that is focused on commercializing a university's technology. However, a technology is not a solution that customers will buy. It may serve as the basis for a solution, but it is rarely if ever a solution in and of itself. (Pivot)
  • If something intrigues you or calls you to take action, do it! Stop worrying about failing. So what if you fail? At leas you won't go to your grave wondering what would have happened if you had tried. (Idea to Invention)
  • 51iKWrJ9B1L._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_True commitment, the type your teammates can rely on as if their lives depended on it, requires you to burn your boat upon the shore of action. You must then press forward because you have removed the way out, igniting the fire of challenge. (The Way of the Seal)
  • Every individual, department, or company eventually encloses itself in a glass box: a box of assumptions about what is possible…. Find an individual or department eager for change and focus on them until their glass box has been broken. Everyone else will then follow. ((Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks)
  • You will benefit greatly by making a friend of chaos and mastering it, even though it can be uncomfortable at first. Remember, the key to breaking through to extraordinary results is to replace an old habit with a new one–make a habit of changing things up constantly and you will override any discomfort you've experienced in the face of chaos or rapid change. This will result in a heightened awareness of new patters and a strengthened ability to avoid blind spots and break old routines, which will liberate your mind from the restraints of the convention and allow a strong does of creativity to flow in.  (The Way of the Seal)
  • In order to make our dreams come true, we need staying power. We need to learn how to pace ourselves. We need to take pleasure in the process rather than focusing solely on outcomes. And we need to practice radical self-belief so that when the going gets tough, we hang tough. (Idea to Invention)
  • 510xWXFIEdL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_By founding or joining start-ups, women see an opportunity to be judged on the merit of their ideas rather than their gender. ‘The tech industry as a whole has been one of the most long-standing meritocracies. The start-up is the door to the palace. It's been the path for innovators to fast-track themselves to success' says Amanda Reed, the venture capitalist… (Stiletto Network)
  • It's good to have high standards, but not when they're so high that you are actually limiting your ability to get things done. If you are suffering from perfectionism, try to adopt the attitude that life is a rehearsal–all the time. (Nothing is Impossible)
  • Thinking offense, all of the time, aligns your mind and spirit in a forward-momentum, active effort that will allow you to tackle anything with unwavering confidence in your ability to win. While your competition put their energy into protecting themselves or hedging their bets against potential downturns, you'll focus your intensity and dive forward, scanning for change and adjusting rapidly as you learn for uncommonly effective execution. (The Way of the Seal)
  • 512SBHU7cZL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_A brainstorming session is the best method to accrue risk elements. Assemble the key team members and ask them to enumerate the risks and assumptions. Accept all the items without question. Make sure they have complete descriptions and everyone understands them. Define the linkage between any risks. Outline mitigation plans for each risk (Rescue the Problem Project)
  • To deal with any problem or circumstance in your life and create a new reality, you have to shift your focus away from whatever it is that you want to change, from the undesired to what it is that you want to create. (Nothing is Impossible)
  • 51xlfYrLoNL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_Trust in business is everything, and to establish trust, we must have the courage to offer it first, which means exposing our vulnerability. (Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks)
  • Have courage, give courage. Stiletto Networks push members to pursue their passions and take risks. Members should help each woman script difficult conversations (e.g., about promotion or compensation), and shouldn't be afraid to disagree. (Stiletto Network)StandingBook(250Thumb)
  • Your goals should be things like using data to facilitate better targeting, forecasting, pricing, decision-making, reporting, compliance, and so on. In other words, work with the rest of you organization to do better business, not to do data science for its own sake. (Data Science)
  • As much as we offer a proven approach for uncertainty reduction and tools to help enable your learning, it all comes down to you those around you. In our training sessions, we discuss the balance between people and process (Pivot)
  • To move away from biased experiments, one needs to engage in action-oriented experimentation. (Pivot)

The Summary of the Books on the Entrepreneur’s Bookshelf

Excerpts from

  • The Way of the Seal: Think Like an Elite Warrior to Lead and Succeed by Mark Divine–From attacking insurgents in Iraq to hunting down Osama bin Laden to rescuing pirate hostages, the U.S. Navy SEALs are known across the world for getting the mission accomplished. Everyone is familiar with the demanding nature of SEAL physical training and few can hope to reach those standards. But it is not just strength and agility that marks a Navy SEAL. Leadership, decisiveness, creative thinking, discipline, adaptability and perseverance are all part of what makes a SEAL a SEAL. They have a completely different worldview, a unique way of approaching every challenge and opportunity that enables them to do what others can’t, or simply won’t. Now for the first time, ex-SEAL Mark Divine reveals the training secrets behind how to think like a U.S. Navy SEAL. The Way of the SEAL is the path to success in every endeavor. It goes inside the mind of a Navy SEAL and shows you how to attain the mental toughness, agility, flexibility, and determination that will enable you to accomplish truly impossible feats. A practical guide for business people (or indeed anyone) who need to know the secrets to success.
  • Nothing is Impossible: 7 Steps to Realize Your True Power and Maximize Your Results by Tom Oliver– Tom Oliver has shared his extraordinary secrets with Bono, Richard Branson, the Dalai Lama, and Deepak Chopra. Now he shares them with you. Are you ready to lose your self-doubt and use the tools you already have to turn your wildest dreams into tangible reality? This book is about to put them all at your fingertips. In this extraordinary new road map for success, Tom Oliver–a motivational self-made entrepreneur and coach to many of the world’s most notable CEOs, philanthropists, and entertainers–shows you how to dramatically alter your life path. Nothing Is Impossible is a proven seven-step whole-brain plan anyone can use to improve his or her business, life, and career from the man Deepak Chopra calls “an extraordinary leader.”
  • Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks: One CEO's Quest for Meaning and Authenticity by August Turak–August Turak is a successful entrepreneur, corporate executive, and award-winning author who attributes much of his success to living and working alongside the Trappist monks of Mepkin Abbey for seventeen years. As a frequent monastic guest, he learned firsthand from the monks as they grew an incredibly successful portfolio of businesses. Service and selflessness are at the heart of the 1,500-year-old monastic tradition's remarkable business success.
  • Stiletto Network: Inside the Women's Power Circles that are Changing the Face of Business by Pamela Ryckman–More women are running major companies than ever before. While still far too few in number, these female heads of industry are the forerunners of a radical shift in power now underway. During the past few years, women's groups have been coalescing in every major American city. Formidable ladies across professions are convening at unprecedented rates, forming salons, dinner groups, and networking circles, and collaborating to achieve clout and success. A new girls' network is alive and set to hyperdrive. “Stiletto Network” is about those groups: the “Power Bitches,” “Brazen Hussies” and “S.L.U.T.S.: Successful Ladies Under Tremendous Stress.” It's about what happens when bright, extraordinary women, from captains of industry to aspiring entrepreneurs, come together to celebrate and unwind, debate and compare notes. But it's also about what happens when they leave the table, when the talking stops and the action starts. It's about how they mine their collective intelligence to realize their dreams or champion a cause, how they lift up their friends and push them forward, how they join forces to ensure each woman gets what she needs, be it information, an introduction, a partnership, or a landmark deal. This is the first book to shed light on this groundbreaking movement. Sharing story after story of women banding together to help other women, “Stiletto Network” is both a call to action and an inside look at a better way of doing business.
  • Data Smart: Using Data Science to Transform Information into Insight by John W. Foreman–Data Science gets thrown around in the press like it's magic. Major retailers are predicting everything from when their customers are pregnant to when they want a new pair of Chuck Taylors. It's a brave new world where seemingly meaningless data can be transformed into valuable insight to drive smart business decisions. But how does one exactly do data science? Do you have to hire one of these priests of the dark arts, the “data scientist,” to extract this gold from your data? Nope. Data science is little more than using straight-forward steps to process raw data into actionable insight. And in Data Smart, author and data scientist John Foreman will show you how that's done within the familiar environment of a spreadsheet.
  • Rescue the Problem Project: A Complete Guide to Identifying, Preventing, and Recovering from Project Failure by Todd C. Williams–Back from the brink—the first fail-safe recovery plan for turning around troubled projects. When budgets are dwindling, deadlines passing, and tempers flaring, the usual response is to browbeat the project team and point fingers of blame. Not helpful. For these situations, what is needed is an objective process for accurately assessing what is wrong and a clear plan of action for fixing the problem. Rescue the Problem Project provides project managers, executives, and customers with the answers they require. Turnaround specialist Todd Williams has worked with dozens of companies in multiple industries resuscitating failing projects. In this new book, he reveals an in-depth, start-to-finish process that includes: Techniques for identifying the root causes of the trouble. Steps for putting projects back on track—audit the project, analyze the data, negotiate the solution, and execute the new plan. Nearly 70 real-world examples of what works, what doesn’t, and why. Guidelines for avoiding problems in subsequent projects Many books explain how to run a project, but only this one shows how to bring it back from the brink of disaster. And with 65% of projects failing to meet goals and 25% cancelled outright, that’s essential information!
  • Pivot: How Top Entrepreneurs Adapt and Change Course to Find Ultimate Success by Remy Arteaga–A proven approach to achieving entrepreneurial success in new corporate ventures and startups. Every day, business and corporate startups take action based on assumptions. Yet these assumptions are based largely on guesswork that leads to everything from costly mistakes to the failure of ventures. Fortunately, there are ways to overcome these issues and excel in your business endeavors—and this book will show you how.
  • Idea to Invention: What You Need to Know to Cash in on Your Inspiration by Patricia Nolan-Brown–You don't have to be a mechanical genius to be an inventor. Anyone can invent – a parent wrestling with a baby sling …a coach frustrated with slick-soled running shoes …an office worker determined to keep the computer cords untangled. Inventing is simply finding clever solutions to everyday challenges. Author and inventor Patricia Nolan-Brown has turned common annoyances into ingenious and money-making products. She shares the tricks of her trade in Idea to Invention, a practical guide that helps ordinary people look at their world with the eyes of an inventor. Readers will learn six simple steps to invention – and discover: how they rate on six crucial personality traits; creativity habits that spark invention; the power of tape-and-paper prototypes to refine their vision; how to navigate the ins and outs of licensing and patenting their product; the pros and cons of finding a licensed manufacturer vs. running a home-based assembly line; how to promote their invention-from perfecting the pitch and finding store buyers to trade-show shortcuts and strategies for creating buzz online; and product enhancements that add years to shelf life. From initial concept to thriving business, this handy guide simplifies the invention process and gives creative thinkers the competitive edge they need to achieve success.


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  1. Thank you for creating this extensive list! I have been searching lately for alternative approaches to growing and running my small business and came across a book by entrepreneur and author Laura Humphreys called “Liber8 Your Business” ( I was immediately intrigued by the idea of the “backwards first” business approach outlined in the book. It encourages readers to break out of the micro way of looking at business strategy and instead visualize the end, first. What that basically means is that instead of focusing on the daily routine of business, we should instead make a plan for the “end game” of our business and work backwards, outlining steps from the end to where we are now. The strategies and steps outlined in the book were a real eye opener for a small business opener and immediately motivated me. Laura Humphreys, the author, has won multiple business awards, as well as grown and sold multiple small businesses so I trust that the content comes from a place of knowledge and skill. A must read for anyone looking to get more out of their business or the hopeful entrepreneurs.

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