Four and a Half Business Books

Well – it’s February – and I’ve had this particular post half written since Christmas break – so I guess it’s time to get it off of my desk and onto yours.

Today – I have a short list of business books.  Each of these are a bit different – and none are photo-centric.  Instead of f/stops, shutter speeds, and strobes – these folks are talking social media, biz plans, and efficiency – good stuff for that emerging part-time photography (or other) business sketched on the back of that brewpub napkin.

So, here you go, in no particular order:

Inbound Marketing by Halligan and Shah

im How do you measure the value of a business book?  I think it’s often pretty difficult – unless by the end of the book you have a grocery list of action items – as was my experience by the time I finished.

Have I finished the list yet?  No.  But I’ve crossed a few items off.

This is a book that will beg you to take action.   And then it’s simply your choice – do you or don’t you.

Inbound Marketing is about getting eyeballs on your pages.  And if you follow these tactics – you will more than likely improve the visibility of your brand – but it’s going to take some effort.

If you’re a photographer – and you’re serious about this gig – you’ll likely build an online presence – a brand.  This book could really help you with that strategy.

Dharmesh Shah also founded Hubspot – an online resource to help brands / businesses with their inbound marketing.

Bottom line: I’ve been recommending this book to everyone I know who’s trying to build a brand.

Free by Chris Anderson

freeThis is another book that really strikes at the core of your social media strategy – and it addresses free content and services.  As photographers – we either just give away our images (and sometimes our rights to an image) – or we hold on to our work too tight (e.g. really small images with watermarks).

Anderson has written a book that helps contain and define “free” in the world of bits (and sometimes in the world of atoms).  I’m persuaded he’s talking about developing a “free” strategy – and less a “free-for-all”.  In other words – how can “free” build your brand and how can it improve the bottom line.

Regardless if you agree or disagree with a free strategy – I think Anderson has helped define one of the more difficult marketing elements in the broadband era.

Awesomely Simple by John Spence

as To be honest – I didn’t think much of the title – but I liked the book.

This book isn’t focused on the theoretical concepts of business – instead it’s about helping you turn the elements of good business into practice.  Those simple elements include Vivid Vision, Best People, Robust Communications, Sense of Urgency, Disciplined Execution, and Extreme Customer Focus.

This book may be less micro-business focused – but I still think there’s a lot of great info here for businesses of all sizes – in a very concise text.

The best parts of this book are at the end of each chapter.  Spence has summarized the key points, included an “effectiveness audit” (how well are you currently doing in a particular area), and he also offers thoughts on turning the ideas into action.

You can also find Spence’s blog here.

Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk

ci And this is another book I was a bit hesitant to read because of the title – but Henry gave it a strong recommendation – so I picked it up.

Vaynerchuk – is the one behind Wine Library TV.  As I hadn’t watched it before – I popped on over there to check out an episode – and it was pretty good.  It’s essentially wine reviews for the “rest of us” (and though I enjoy wine – I’m very much in the “rest of us” category).  And if you get a chance – check out his wine + breakfast cereal pairings.

As for his book – it’s a 143 page kick-in-the-seat to help you go out and monetize your passion.

Vaynerchuk begins talking a bit about his early entrepreneur years – and moves to his experience of working in his dad’s liquor store – and then he transitions to his current ventures.  He’s passionate – but tempered.  He points to the years of hard work likely needed for success.  Not months.  Not weeks.  No overnight Youtube sensations.  Instead Vaynerchuk talks about slowly building a brand – your personal brand – for your business – with elbow grease.  But as he points out – if you’re passionate about your venture – you’d likely do all of the work for free anyway.

There’s a good dose of social media / biz strategies here.  But if I could sum up Vaynerchuk’s message in one word – it would be “authentic”.  In other words – you’re the best at being you – and your authenticity anchors your story.

Bottom line: I’m hesitant to loan out my copy – as I haven’t had a chance to follow up on all of the dog-eared pages.  This is a fairly quick, easy read that gave me tactical action items.

ggsc And the half?  Well – it’s actually a supplement to Good to Great.  And to be honest – I haven’t read the original Good to Great book – but I really liked this accompaniment: Good to Great and the Social Sectors by Jim Collins. It’s about 35 pages long – but concisely frames up the contrasts between the social sector and business within the good-to-great structure.  And if you haven’t read Good to Great – Collins has included a brief summary of those concepts within the text.

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