Recommended Business Books

Many of our entrepreneurs and guest speakers have cited business books as a source of their inspiration during our events. Some have even authored books of their own. Given the influence they've had on their success, we've taken the time to curate a list of those that have been recommended the most:


Small Giants, by Bo Burlingham
Recommended by Simon Hartley: "There are some truly world-class businesses that are not corporations, not listed in the FTSE 250 or global multi-nationals. This book inspires small businesses to be true greats."


Legacy, by Jim Kerr
In early 2010, James Kerr had the privilege and unique opportunity of going deep inside the New Zealand rugby All Blacks camp for five weeks to study the way the best in the world stay on top of their game. His subsequent book, Legacy: What the All Blacks can teach us about the Business of Life, detailed the pillars of the squad’s sporting culture of success.


The Speed of Trust, by Stephen M.R. Covey
Recommended by Ian Kinnery, Team Massive Results: "Definitely a life-changing book for me personally. The subtitle 'The One Thing That Changes Everything' tells you all you need to know."


Elite! by Floyd Woodrow
Recommended by Simon Hartley: "In Elite! Floyd gets right to the heart of leadership and identifies the little things that make a huge difference. He tells a story of two SAS units, operating behind enemy lines in Iraq. Both have very similar missions, with similar resources available. One succeeds, despite encountering some extreme and unexpected challenges. The other fails. What was the one defining difference? Leadership!"


How To Develop Character, by Simon Hartley
The greatest sports teams often recruit people first and players second. They also develop character in people before skills in players. The world's best organisations go beyond teaching skills and knowledge. They know that the challenges of today require personal characteristics such as resilience, tenacity and composure, honesty integrity and courage. In short, they know the importance of having people with the right character. So, how can we go beyond skills, knowledge and even personality? How can we develop character?


The One Minute Manager, by Ken Blanchard
Recommended by Ian Kinnery, Team Massive Results: "Great for people who don't like reading. It will take 90 minutes cover to cover, but it is a lifetime thick in wisdom. Every manager should read this."


Selling For Dummies, by Ben Kench
Ben spoke to members of the Entrepreneurs' Forum and gave plenty of tips, which are reflected in his book, about how to generate more leads, win more sales and build your business."


The Inside Advantage: The Strategy that Unlocks the Hidden Growth in Your Business, by Robert Bloom
Robert Bloom has discovered that every enterprise has at least one strategic asset, one existing strength that can form the foundation for future growth. He calls this an Inside Advantage. This strength usually lies unrecognized in an activity the business is currently performing or in a concept or an idea that the business already owns. Finding this hidden potential and becoming well known for it will grow the business."



Keys to Success, by Sir John Timpson
Sir John Timpson returned to speak to Entrepreneurs' Forum members at the Together We Can Take on the World conference in May 2018.

Sir John was born in 1943 and educated at Oundle and Nottingham University. He become the Director responsible for buying of the family footwear business William Timpson Ltd in 1970.

Following the acquisition of the company by the UDS Group in 1973, he became Managing Director of retailer Swears & Wells and in 1975 was appointed Managing Director of William Timpson, his original family business. His previous books include Ask John (Icon, 2014) and High Street Heroes (Icon, 2015).

Keys to Success is his most recently published book.

The 3x5 Coach, by Dave Baney
Recommended by Ian Kinnery, Team Massive Results

Whether you’re an executive officer, a department manager, or a shift supervisor, you have a clear understanding of your team members’ top accountabilities.

Without clear communication, your team may not share that understanding. They may have entirely different views on their job responsibilities and even why they’re getting paid. This disconnect between managerial and staff opinions can devastate productivity, performance, and team morale.

In The 3 x 5 Coach, market strategist and leadership expert Dave Baney offers a simple, direct solution to this problem. Baney’s effective methodology helps supervisors and employees quickly agree on key job accountabilities while establishing objective systems for evaluating employee performance and growth.


The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the many are smarter than the few, by James Surowiecki.
James Surowiecki's book is about the aggregation of information in groups, resulting in decisions that, he argues, are often better than could have been made by any single member of the group. The book presents numerous case studies and anecdotes to illustrate its argument, and touches on several fields, primarily economics and psychology. Recommended by Simon Hartley, Be World Class."


Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose, by Tony Hsieh, CEO of online shoe and clothing company Zappos
Recommended by Ian Kinnery, Team Massive Results
·Pay brand-new employees $2,000 to quit
·Make customer service the responsibility of the entire company-not just a department
·Focus on company culture as the no.1 priority
·Apply research from the science of happiness to running a business
·Help employees grow-both personally and professionally
·Seek to change the world
·Oh, and make money too . . . Sound crazy? It's all standard operating procedure at Zappos, the online retailer that's doing over $1 billion in gross merchandise sales annually. After debuting as the highest-ranking newcomer in Fortune magazine's annual "Best Companies to Work For" list in 2009, Zappos was acquired by Amazon in a deal valued at over $1.2 billion on the day of closing.


Good to Great, by Jim Collins
Another book recommended by many of the guest speakers we've had at the Entrepreneurs' Forum over the years."


Making Character First, by Tom Hill & Walter Jenkins
Recommended by Simon Hartley, Be World Class: "There are very few books that help us understand not only the importance of recruiting and developing character in people, but also the process. In this book, Tom Hill describes how he turned around a failing culture in his own manufacturing business by systematically developing character in his team."


The E-Myth, by Michael Gerber
This book has been recommended by numerous speakers over the years.

Described as "The world's No.1 Small Business Guru", Michael Gerber's companies have helped tens of thousands of small business owner-clients to successfully transform their businesses into world-class operations.

Think in 3D!  The Seven Characteristics of Dramatically and Demonstrably Different Businesses , by Andy Hanselman
Andy is big favourite of the Forum, having spoken at and hosted numerous events for us over the years.

In his book, Andy explores how winning businesses get ahead, and stay ahead of their competitors.  They are 'Dramatically and Demonstrably Different' From their competitors - they do things that their competitors aren't, and even better can't!


The Lean Startup: How Constant Innovation Creates Radically Successful Businesses
Another book recommended by more than one of our guest speakers over the years, The Lean Startup is a new approach to business that's being adopted around the world. It is changing the way companies are built and new products are launched. The Lean Startup is about learning what your customers really want. It's about testing your vision continuously, adapting and adjusting before it's too late. .


Will it Make the Boat Go Faster?: Olympic-winning Strategies for Everyday Success
Ben Hunt-Davis spoke at one of our conferences in 2015 and had the audience gripped with his video and story of Olympic triumph at Sydney 2000. He and Executive Coach Harriet Beveridge have teamed up to show you how to use similar strategies to improve your own life. The pair have been road-testing these methods for 10 years, with clients from all walks of life; managers, leaders, call centre staff, sales reps, athletes and shop assistants; whatever your challenges, whatever your goals, there are ideas that will help everyone.


The Shed Method, by Sara Milne Rowe
However good your strategic thinking or your planning are, success in business is all about being at your best and leading people to achieve amazing things. To do this you need to understand yourself, master your personal energy and enhance your communication skills if you want to be a successful and inspiring leader.

This book is an easy to follow fusion of (some) theory and lots of practical advice on how to be the best version of yourself from an outstanding coach. You’ll want to give copies to all your team and your family once you have read it!

Recommended by Andy Rubin, President of Pentland Brands, who gave an outstanding talk to Forum members in May 2018.



The Manager's Handbook - The 17 Skills Leaders Need to Stand Out, by The Harvard Business Review
This book brings together in one place, decades of the world’s leading business minds on leadership and management in a very practical book that is the reference manual on how to lead and manage. It’s the “toolkit” you’ve been waiting for.

Recommended by Andy Rubin, President of Pentland Brands, who gave an outstanding talk to Forum members in May 2018.

Winning, by Jack Welch
Simply the best “how to” for running complex businesses written by one of the most effective business leaders we have seen.

Recommended by Andy Rubin, President of Pentland Brands, who gave an outstanding talk to Forum members in May 2018.


Conscious Capitalism, by John Mackey & Raj Sisodia
This book combines the thinking of the founder of Whole Foods and a leading business academic. It helps us all think about the trade-offs that occur in business every day by trying to optimise returns to all stakeholders. It helps us understand that a new balanced scorecard should take into account all stakeholders if we are to build a sustainable world for future generations.

Recommended by Andy Rubin, President of Pentland Brands, who gave an outstanding talk to Forum members in May 2018.


Let My People Go Surfing, by Yvon Chouinard
In his long-awaited memoir, Yvon Chouinard-legendary climber, businessman, environmentalist, and founder of Patagonia, Inc.-shares the persistence and courage that have gone into being head of one of the most respected and environmentally responsible companies on earth.


How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie
Recommended by Robert Forrester, CEO of Vertu Motors when he spoke at our conference in November 2016.

Millions of people around the world have improved their lives based on the teachings of Dale Carnegie. In How to Win Friends and Influence People, he offers practical advice and techniques, in his exuberant and conversational style, for how to get out of a mental rut and make life more rewarding.


The Fifth Discipline, by Peter M Senge
Recommended by Ian Kinnery: "Ostensibly about creating a learning organisation, but its wisdom goes much further than that, particularly regarding simple and complex systems."

The author defines five business "disciplines" which help to build "learning organizations". These companies will be the successful one in the coming decade because of their ability to learn, to absorb new ideas, theories and practices at all employee levels and use them to competitive advantage.


The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Steven R. Covey
Recommended by Robert Forrester, CEO of Vertu Motors when he spoke at our conference in 2016.

Stephen Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People took the self-help market by storm in 1990 and has enjoyed phenomenal sales ever since. With over 15 million copies in print, the book has become a classic.

Now a touchstone for millions of individuals, as well as for families and businesses, the integrated, principle-centered 7 Habits philosophy has helped readers find solutions to their personal and professional problems, and achieve a life characterized by fairness, integrity, honesty, and dignity. Covey's tried and true step-by-step approach can now be even more thoroughly explored in this new workbook.


The Future Reinvented: Reimagining Life, Society, and Business, by Steve Wells
Steve Wells is guest speaker at our event "Leadership for a Reinvented Future". The second book in the Fast Future series, The Future Reinvented, explores how our notions of the future are themselves being reinvented. The authors challenge us to reimagine how life, society, key industries, and the conduct of business could be transformed by a combination of radical technological, scientific, social, and economic developments shaping the decade ahead. The Future Reinvented offers unique snapshots of different aspects of a future in which the very tenets of reality are undergoing deep and vital transformations. The book is organized into three sections covering transformations in life and society, industries, and business, and presents holistic future scenarios that encourage strategic thinking about what lies beyond the hype..


Scaling Up, by Verne Harnish
"Goals without routines are wishes; routines without goals are aimless. The most successful business leaders have a clear vision and the disciplines (routines) to make it a reality." - Verne Harnish


Crucial Conversations: Tools For Talking When Stakes Are High, by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan & Switzler
Recommended by Ian Kinnery, Team Massive Results:

The first edition of Crucial Conversations exploded onto the scene and revolutionised the way millions of people communicate when stakes are high. This new edition gives you the tools to: - Prepare for high-stakes situations - Transform anger and hurt feelings into powerful dialogue - Make it safe to talk about almost anything - Be persuasive, not abrasive


Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, by Jim Collins
Recommended by Robert Forrester, CEO of Vertu Motors, when he spoke at our conference in 2016.

Drawing upon a six-year research project at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, Collins and Porras took eighteen truly exceptional and long-lasting companies and studied each company in direct comparison to one of its top competitors. They examined the companies from their very beginnings to the present day - as start-ups, as midsize companies and as large corporations. Throughout, the authors asked: 'What makes the truly exceptional companies different from other companies?'

Filled with hundreds of specific examples and organized into a coherent framework of practical concepts that can be applied by managers and entrepreneurs at all levels, Built to Last provides a master blueprint for building organizations that will prosper long into the twenty-first century and beyond.


Who Says Elephants Can't Dance? How I Turned Around IBM, by Louis V Gerstner
CEO Louis V. Gerstner Jr.’s memoir about the extraordinary turnaround of IBM and his transformation of the company into the industry leader of the computer age – the great American business story of our time.

When Louis V. Gerstner became CEO of IBM in 1993, shares had slumped and the company was on the verge of collapse. Hired for his successful management of RJR Nabisco and American Express, Gerstner had no background in technology, but during his seven-year chairmanship, he transformed the company into the leading force of the computer age.

In his frank, direct voice, Gerstner recalls the obstacles he faced: the plans to fragment the company, the inconsistent global policies, the stodgy white-shirt hierarchy and inter-departmental competitiveness and the rapidly declining sales. Within months of joining IBM, Gerstner presented his bold and controversial business strategy. Punitive towards office politics, he revolutionised the company from within, altering an entire corporate culture, divesting billions of dollars in unneeded assets and transforming IBM from a fractured, process-driven business into a nimble, customer-driven enterprise able to respond quickly to the volatile technology market.



Work Rules: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead
Recommended by Robert Forrester, CEO of Vertu Motors

A compelling manifesto with the potential to change how we work and live, Work Rules! offers both a philosophy of the new world of work and a blueprint for attracting the most spectacular talent and ensuring the brightest and best prosper. The way we work is changing - are you?


Team Spirit, by Brendan Hall
Recommended by Simon Hartley: "At first glance, you may not see how a book with an ocean racing yacht on the cover might help business people. Yes, it is a story of how team spirit won the Clipper Round the World race. However, it is fundamentally about teamwork and leadership. I particularly love the way that Brendan Hall shares his internal wrestles and personal challenges as a leader; his worries, doubts, failures and sleepless nights."


The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness, by Stephen R. Covey
Recommended by Ian Kinnery from Team Massive Results

That the world has changed and is continuing to change at a rapid pace is not news. People are much more aware of everything around them. The consumer revolution has accelerated dramatically. But something vital is missing in all of this change. Leadership has not kept up with the changes going on in the world. From boardrooms to classrooms, leadership is being challenged on a daily basis yet now a new leadership model has been given.

FDr Covey introduces the four roles of the new leader - modelling, pathfinding, aligning and empowering - and how those qualities can change you and your organisation. He discusses how trust can be lost throughout organisations and how it is imperative that any organisation bring trust back to the company if it is to survive. Covey also shows how to go from what he calls a 'want to' person to a 'can do' person and how doing so can completely transform people and organisations.


*Please note: in the interests of transparency, these recommended reads have been linked to the Amazon Associates referral programme and any purchases made from these links will create a small donation back to the Entrepreneurs' Forum, which we will reinvest in helping to make the North East of England a more entrepreneurial place.