Seven Best Business Books Written By Business Owners Themselves
This is an excellent (and well-written!) case study of bringing a popular product to market with infomercial marketing. I liked it so much I read it cover to cover, which is rare for me. Emphasis on marketing, typical business production/legal issues, plus very motivating on persistence while being an entrepreneur. I liked the testing details, copywriting and media buy numbers.. very eye-opening to me, and extremely insightful.
2. Marketing Secrets of a Mail Order Maverick : Stories & Lessons on the Power of Direct Marketing to Start a Successful Business, Create a Brand
This meaty book is packed with stories, lessons, ads, tips and techniques. In it Sugarman reveals the story of how he cleverly wrote a retail ad that sold thousands of computers in one morning, causing a line of people for blocks. (!) And I nearly cried reading about the ad Sugarman ran to raffle off his services as a copywriter to help raise money for the American Cancer Society after his mother's sad death. The bizarre twists and turns as a result of his idea---a train wreck, car wreck and a meeting with an Hawaiian healer---melted my heart while boggling my mind. Clearly, Sugarman has been around the block (often chased) in the world of marketing. He tells stories about his successes, as well as his failures, and they are riveting.
The success story about the software program that could accurately predict the stock market (which made many people wealthy) made me drool to get my hands on it. The failure story about the "Laser Beam Mousetrap" that went for $1,500 reveals how your ego can cripple your success. Then there are Sugarman's thoughts on type fonts, layout, photography, pricing, publicity (it doesn't sell much), humor (avoid it) and much more, that make this book required reading.
3. Losing My Virginity: How I've Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way
I originally bought this book thinking it would be an interesting story of "how to make a billion like Richard Branson did". It didn't turn out that way, because what I found while reading it was that you would need to be another Richard Branson to replicate what he has done. However, I did find it to be a fascinating tale of a man who has succeeded through hard work, creativity, imagination and a true sense of "doing the right thing". He tells his tale with pride, but not arrogance. He also lets his personality shine through in his writing, which is certainly a plus. I would strongly recommend this book to anyone who wants to hear a compelling tale from a unique character.
4. Sam Walton: Made In America
It is hard to write an autobiography without displaying your bias. Sam Walton has done an outstanding job. Made in America is interesting and educational. Walton does an excellent job of peppering Walmart's story with some of his own childhood and background information which make the story more fun to read. No matter what your views on Walmart and its effect on US economy, this is a very important book to read. Furthermore the way he tells his story can appeal to a wide range of audience. One of the best autobiographies I've read!
5. Pour Your Heart into It : How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time
This is a story of how Starbucks changed the world. Howard Schultz, the CEO, tells the history of Starbucks starting with its founding in 1971 up until 1999. Schultz tells how he came on board,later bought the company and its sky-roacketing growth.
6. Time to Make the Donuts: The Founder of Dunkin Donuts Shares an American Journey
Bill Rosenberg's rise to the top is one filled with passion and drive and this aggressiveness is captured in "Time to Make the Donuts". Like many entrepreneurs, Rosenberg wasn't blessed with an bottomless bank account or a wealthy family to back him up. He was born into a lower- middle class family and he worked hard to achieve his dreams.
Rosenberg's business encounters are many and some of them are interesting to read about. In 1962, for example, he received a call from a guy named Jim McLamore, a young entrepreneur in his own right, who was looking for someone to become business partners with him while he tried to grow his hamburger business. He came to Rosenberg because he had heard about Bill's reputation for successful franchising. He asked Rosenberg to invest $150,000, which would make the two men 50/50 owners in the business. Rosenberg went over the business plan with his associates, but they decided to decline the offer because McLamore's business was in Florida, which was far away, and they wanted to concentrate on making donuts. McLamore's new business was called Burger King. Had Rosenberg accepted the offer, his $150,000 investment would have been worth more than $8 million just three years later! Rosenberg's Dunkin Donuts still grew into a highly successful business but it's fascinating when you think about how differently the course of business history would have played out if this and other decisions had gone the other way.
7. Boone Pickens: The Luckiest Guy in the World
This is a great story about how a regular guy from Texas left a large company and the corporate America safety net behind and started his own company, which grew from a few thousand dollars that he started with in 1955 to a billion dollar company decades later. Boone shares the structure of his 1st company which he started with basically no money; for anyone wanting to start there own company this information is priceless. It went like this:
Two partners put up $2,500 and he signed a note for his $2,500. The two partners established a $100,000 line of credit for the new company and Boone would have to have them off the note within 5 years or he would loose control of the company. He was President of the company and ran the day to day operations.
That's it, that simple, years later he's bidding for some of the largest oil companies in the world.
Some great quotes:
"It was up to me to find investors. Asking people for money is the most essential skill for a young dealmaker"
"Undercapitalization affects 90% of the new businesses in America"
"I had to adjust my dreams to fit reality-or could I somehow change reality to match my dreams?"
"Issuing stock for capital is the most fundamental service Wall Street provides. This classic stock market function has given rise to the great Wall Street firms-and for that matter, to America's industrial might. Entrepreneurs need more capital than banks are willing to lend..."
Boone told his attorneys he was going to stop them every time he did not understand something, and his attorney said, "You're paying us by the hour...this could get expensive." Boone replies, "It'll be a lot more expensive if I don't understand it now."
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