Business Books

I realise there’s a ton of websites out there recommending business books but I want a designers point of view.

Does anyone know any good books for a designer interested in entrepreneurship and business?

Start Here:

The E-myth Revisited
http://www.amazon.com/E-Myth-Revisited-Small-Businesses-About/dp/0887307280

Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Cradle to Cradle, and The World is Flat are all great. Each one of them changed the way I see business and entrepreneurship.

Coupla suggestions. Read Seth Godin, Guy Kawasaki, and John Maeda on their blogs.

Bookwise, read everything by Godin. Seriously. His specialty is marketing but he speaks with a voice that is very easy to comprehend and pertinent for designers. His books are also mercifully short and sweet. Try:
Tribes
The Dip
Unleashing the Idea Virus
Permission Marketing
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_gw?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=seth+godin&x=0&y=0
Guy Kawasaki
Art of the Start
Selling The Dream
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_gw?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Guy+Kawasaki&x=0&y=0
John Maeda
The Laws of Simplicity
Clayton Christensen
The Innovator’s Dilemma
Other Good Ones
W. Chan Kim-Blue Ocean Strategy
Malcolm Gladwell - anything
Tom Friedman - anything
Dan Pink - Whole New Mind, Free Agent Nation
Clay Shirky - Here Comes Everybody

This will get you started. I have been working on a “Personal MBA” now for years following trends and reading material like this. Sources like these can buttress your arguments with business types, while avoiding pissing contests about unit pricing or marketing strategies.

Cheers.

+1

Bookwise, read everything by Godin. Seriously. His specialty is marketing but he speaks with a voice that is very easy to comprehend and pertinent for designers. His books are also mercifully short and sweet.

I read Godin’s blog, it’s good, he writes the perfect amount for a blog post. I just finished Tribes, its flow really got to me though since it was just a bunch of blog posts, but presented like a book. For a quick read though, not too bad.

I’m really looking for books that are going to teach me about revenue models, net profit, turnover, the ins and outs of business, without being a text book. There seems to be a lot of business/marketing books out there talking about things designers already know.

Though I’d add my next two reads
Life Inc - Douglas Rushkoff
Free - Chris Anderson

Liking the look of the E-Myth Revisited… Thanks for all the suggestions, keep 'em coming.

…don’t even get me started on Seth Godin and his ilk (Gladwell et al included)… sure, some nice “wow” factor, but isn’t most of it either common knowledge, intuition, or just slapping some label on something and forthright prophecy?.. i mean come on… “tribes”… “outliers”… ??? surely we as designers and those privileged enough to hear this BS come straight from the marketing dept. VP’s mouth first-hand ought to know better to believe it lock stock and barrel…

These books and those of it’s kind don’t teach anything aside from buzzwords… anyone can parse a “movement” into a soundbite… that’s all these people are doing… I only can hope that at least the educated designers out there don’t fall for what is in effect nothing more than the combo of a marketer’s BS combined with a slick politicians’ skill at pushing button and a preacher’s adeptness at telling a story and giving people what they want to hear…

sorry to be so harsh, but I’ve had numerous client and colleagues subscribe to this sort of BS and it get you nowhere but FAIL in a hurry…, IMHO.



R

R. - While I partly agree with you, I don’t think it’s a case of ‘falling’ for whatever they’re trying to sell you. A lot of these books out there are talking about things that people already know, they’re just reilliterating the point, clarifying and creating a story, take the Tipping Point for example. Tribes ends with an inspirational message to go out there and get something done, it’s all quite innocent, I don’t see any harm in it.

As much as the use of buzz words annoys me, so does the term ‘buzzword’. I just find its use highly negative, like the hipsters of business, jump off a trend as soon as it hits the masses and all of a sudden a ‘buzzword’ shouldn’t be taught and never spoke of again.

Any marketing book by author Philip Kotler. It’s not about blue sky thinking and strategies, etc, but its about principles and how to sell yourself, and also how the economy works.

Your imagination can make you think up any concept, and in theory, this concept would work as a business idea. However, you have to put that idea within the constraints of real business environment, complete with regulations, laws and economic factors.

This is the problem I think. For pure entertainment, the books are fine. I’ve read a few of those pseudo-science books and they can be a good read. What I do think is dangerous is that they are often taken as business gospel and the sole factors for consideration. It’s not that perhaps there isn’t a kernel of truth to some of the ideas they put forth, it’s just that the ideas are so distilled and often vague, “inspirational” and naive that they steer otherwise good business discussions into bad territory.

From my perspective at least, that’s the only caution I would give.

R

Richard,

I won’t disagree with your description, just the potential impact the reading can have. If you read Godin’s blog for a year, you cannot tell me you wouldn’t have a better, deeper vocabulary with regards to the leading edge of business today.

That is not to say you would not benefit from an Accounting 101 class or a subscription to Harvard Business Review. I just find that these blogs lead me to have conversations with myself and others by following links and threads I would not otherwise find on my own. If you are looking for textbooks, look at any major MBA program. Or just look at http://personalmba.com/

We don’t all have the luxury of taking classes or pursuing advanced degrees. My premise remains that if you read enough to stay current you can keep pace with many executive level managers. Technical and specific knowledge is why we do go to school, IMHO.

Cheers.

I’m really looking for books that are going to teach me about revenue models, net profit, turnover, the ins and outs of business, without being a text book. There seems to be a lot of business/marketing books out there talking about things designers already know.

I highly recommend any starter book by Michael Porter on strategy and Philip Kotler on Marketing. Yes, its true, these are old school and closer to textbooks, but imho, designers are best served by understanding how their clients or those colleagues from outside of design think and approach business problems, marketing and customers.

How about a basic Economic vocabulary? Start from macro and work your way to micro. Learn what supply and demand really represent. Learn what money really is. Learn what potential consequences exist when your industry/product/market experiences demand-pull or supply-shock or one of the many opposite market forces, for example.

a few examples:
Credit, debt and money are all fungible. In most cases, you can exchange one for the other almost without limit. The “dollar” is a zero interest bearing bond of infinite duration written against the aggregate wealth of the United States. Did you nod in agreement? If not, you may need brush up on basic econ.

Most people in America can’t figure out a simple interest rate calculation, or have no idea how their mortgage/car/credit card interest rate is determined. Amortization, whats is that? These are all part and parcel to the current fiasco we call our economy.

Marketing has its place for business owners, but its way down on my essential business operating knowledge list. If you don’t have a firm grasp of at least, basic econ, you are doing yourself and your business a huge disservice, imo. To me, everything in business stems from economics. Therefore, it is imperative that I’m well versed in all manner of economic understanding and analysis. Just my .005 cents (adjusted for the current deflationary spiral).

All good points. Just think we’re getting away from the original post’s intent. That is entrepreneurship and business. Are we talking working for a Fortune 500 in Design Management or bringing to market my new line of ecofriendly compostible cornstarch-based kitchen widgets?

Two much different conversations. Bill Gates was an entrepreneur. So are the guys from Astro Studios, now. Different scales, different stories, different lines of thinking.

Bottom line for me. More great designers thinking about good business = mo’ bettah.

Cheers.

After a year interning with 4 very different companies I’ve come to the conclusion industrial designer isn’t for me. During client meetings throughout my internships I always felt as though I wanted to be on the other side of the table. I’m a bit lost now as to what direction to go, though I plan to complete my degree and I wouldn’t change a thing. Entrepreneurism is a field that really excites me. The business side is my main weakness and my reason for starting this topic.

As for your question, I’d prefer to steer as far possible from Fortune 500 companies, your 2nd guess is a little closer to the mark.

Just bought these two

Art of the start - Guy Kawaski
The Knack: How Street-smart Entrepreneurs Learn to Handle Whatever Comes Up - Norm Brodsky

Great Start!