14 Books all Business Leaders Need on their Bookshelf in 2023

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Books are a great way for aspiring, early-stage, and established founders to learn from other business owners and specialists within industry 

Whether you want to get ahead of trending tactics in your industry, become a better leader, or simply want some fresh reading material as we move into the year - seeking and enjoying new material and valuable insight will help you grow.

We spoke to some of our Tech Nation specialists - as well as our wider community to find out which books every founder, entrepreneur and scaleup community member needs on their bookshelf in 2023.

Difficult Conversations by Bruce Patton, Douglas Stone, and Sheila Heen

Tech Nation’s Specialist Team Operations Coach Andrew Ormerod says Difficult Conversations should be on everyone’s reading list.

He says: “The bigger the team, the more you will have to do to teach people how to resolve conflict and face up to awkward truths.

“This book is full of relatable examples and helpful schemas for life’s most important conversations.”

Beyond Command and Control by John Seddon

Andrew Ormerod also thinks Beyond Command and Control is also a good read for leaders.

He says: “Almost everything you know about management is wrong. By seeking to reduce per-transaction cost, total cost goes up.

“This book explains why. It also points towards ways of achieving a business that can do more with less. If you don’t have time for the whole book, the introductory resources on the website are great.”

The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

Tech Nation’s Specialist Team Growth Coach Sophie Hossack says The Hard Thing About Hard Things is one of the books that can start your year on a good note.

“Ben Horowitz shares the practical lessons and advice he’s experienced as an entrepreneur, CEO and venture capitalist.

“The Appendix provides a series of detailed interview questions for hiring a Head of Sales, which are incredibly helpful if you’re considering hiring for this role or if you’re currently fulfilling this role yourself e.g. ‘Did she run the [sales] process in her last company or did she write the process?’. (Horowitz’s considered use of pronouns also set a new standard for inclusive writing in business books!)”

Legacy by James Kerr

Sophie Hossack also thinks Legacy by James Kerr is a worthwhile book for anyone interested in learning more about growth. 

“The 15 lessons in leadership shared by James Kerr encourages you to think carefully about your individual contribution, the approach you take in developing your team and the long term success of your business.

“The relatable examples are interspersed with beautiful Mauri phrases, providing clear, actionable and motivating next steps to take.”

Assemblage: The Art and Science of Brand Transformation by Emmanuel Probst

Brands can no longer force-feed products to viewers. To ensure they succeed, they need to transform consumers and the world.

In Assemblage, Emmanuel Probst shows how brands can positively impact people, society, and the economy.

Learn how to leverage data and insights to deliver a personalised, human-centric consumer experience and launch an authentic brand.

How Big Things Get Done: The Surprising Factors That Determine the Fate of Every Project by Bent Flyvbjerg and Dan Gardner

How Big Things Get Done reveals tactics to complete any ambitious project on time and within budget.

By reading this book you will learn how to plan slowly, act fast, be part of a team, master the unknown, and more. Examine errors in judgement and decision-making that lead to big and small projects failing.

Happier Hour: How to Beat Distraction, Expand Your Time, and Focus on What Matters Most by Cassie Holmes

Happier Hour explains how to improve your life by changing how you perceive and invest your time.

Get empirically-based insights and easy-to-implement tools to design your schedule, sidestep distractions, and spend your hours with confidence in your choices - all while creating moments of joy.

The Startup Owner's Manual: The Step-By-Step Guide for Building a Great Company by Steve Blank and Bob Dorf

A step-by-step guide to everything entrepreneurs need to know about launching, managing, and growing a startup — according to authors Steve Blank and Bob Dorf. From identifying your target market (and how to reach them) to creating a scalable startup model that is poised for rapid growth.

The Startup Owner’s Manual provides insight into each step of startup ownership and is used by entrepreneurs and universities across the country, solidifying its spot as one of the best startup books to add to your shelf.

The Mystery of You by Emilio Diez Barroso

Written by the entrepreneur and investor Emilio Diez Barroso, the owner of the private-equity firm Nala Investments., The Mystery of You is about finding inner peace while being successful.

10x is Easier than 2x: How World-Class Entrepreneurs Achieve More by Doing Less by Dan Sullivan and Dr. Benjamin Hardy

In 10x Is Easier Than 2x, Dan Sullivan and Dr. Benjamin Hardy explains why achieving 10-times growth is more manageable than 2-times.

Consider that 10-times is not an outcome but a quality-over-quantity process for creating exponential growth in your life and business, expanding your freedoms of time, money, relationships, and purpose.

How to Grow your Small Business: A 6-Step Plan to Help your Business Take Off by Donald Miller

In How to Grow Your Small Business, Donald Miller presents a six-step plan to produce dependable, predictable results, so founders can stop drowning in the details and spend more time doing what they love.

The author of “Building a StoryBrand” and host of the “Business Made Simple” podcast, Donald Miller gives a proven framework for optimising your business’s leadership, marketing, sales, products, overhead and operations, and cash flow.

Rich Dad's Cashflow Quadrant by Robert T. Kiyosaki

Written by Robert T. Kiyosaki, the founder of Rich Global LLC and the Rich Dad Co., a financial-education company, Rich Dad's Cashflow Quadrant teaches readers methods for gaining wealth.

In the book, Kiyosaki describes the four types of working people: Solopreneurs, employees, business owners and investors, and then explains the differences between these people and how some can work less but earn more.

Jump teaches you how to overcome the fear of the unknown to manifest success.

Entrepreneur Kim Perrell shares her story of hitting rock bottom and how she summoned the courage to leap into the unknown. 

This book teaches readers how to get out of their comfort zone, overcome self-doubt, and take proactive steps to change your life.

Get the knowledge, tools, and mindset necessary to move beyond fear, rejection, and failure to reach unmatched levels of success.

If you believe that operating a successful startup starts with building strong personal and professional habits, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People may be the perfect book to support your entrepreneurial journey.

Offering a holistic approach to developing strong personal and professional skills, this book outlines the ways anyone can become more effective at instigating change through fairness, humanity, and integrity.

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