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3 Must Reads For Starting Your Own Business

When you’re learning how to start your own business, knowing which experts to seek and what advice is worth putting into action can be daunting—so we did a little research to help you get started.

Here are 3 must reads to inspire and inform your journey towards starting your own business.

Starting a Business Means Finding Your Purpose

Motivational speaker and NY Times bestselling author Simon Sinek has spent his entire career sharing his revolutionary philosophy on leadership. In his book Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action, Sinek presents the idea that successful business owners put the WHY (purpose) before the HOW (process) or WHAT (the product).

Sinek believes all great leaders share one unique quality. Their actions embody the purposes and passions that drive them. Herb Kelleher’s deep passion for adventure and bringing people together, for example, became the catalyst for the founding of Southwest Airlines, and Bob Iger, CEO of Disney, built his entire career on a desire to share great stories. Both leaders had purposes or goals that went beyond making money.

As Simon writes, “When a WHY is clear, those who share that belief will be drawn to it…People don’t buy WHAT you do. They buy WHY you do it.”

How can Sinek’s book help you on the path to starting your own business? Sinek’s philosophy can help you define your driving purpose, cause, or belief. Inspiration, after all, can only get the movement started. You need a WHY to drive the action forward.

Starting a Business Means Taking Risks

In his thoughtfully written memoir Shoe Dog, Nike’s creator Phil Knight shares his story of being a first time business owner learning to tackle risk head on. Knight knew starting a business was risky but saw risk-taking as a path to wisdom, not failure.

For instance, in 1962 Knight signed a deal with a Japanese shoe company called Onitsuka and placed an order for five thousand pairs of running shoes. The shoes cost $20,000—a far bigger expense than Knight could afford—so he took a risk, borrowed the money, and went on to make business history.

As Knight explains, “It was worth shooting for. If the company went bust, I’d have no money, and I’d be crushed. But I’d also have some valuable wisdom, which I could apply to the next business. Wisdom seemed an intangible asset, but an asset all the same, one that justified the risk. Starting my own business was the only thing that made life’s other risks – marriage, Vegas, alligator wrestling – seem like sure things.”

In fact, when Knight decided to go into the shoe business, the only thing he knew for sure was that he loved to run, and yet he went on to build one of the most successful businesses in the world.

If you want to learn to take risks, read Knight’s book. Just Do It!

Starting a Business Means Not Giving Up

In his memoir The Hard Things About Hard Things, Ben Horowitz—co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz—draws on his experience founding and managing companies to examine problems without easy solutions—firing loyal friends, filing for bankruptcy, and so on—and how to move forward in business despite the twenty million reasons for giving up.

According to Horowitz, all great entrepreneurs face “the pain”—things like collection calls, panic attacks, and the fear of failure—so Horowitz makes it a point to ask successful CEOs to explain how they endure. The mediocre ones, Horowitz says, cite their strategic brilliance, intuitive business sense, and other self-congratulatory explanations, but the great ones know better. They know it was their willingness to keep moving through mountains of failure, financial losses, and shame. They just didn’t quit.

Filled with Horowitz’s trademark humor, this book can help motivate you to move your own mountains. As Horowitz says, “If you are going to eat shit, don’t nibble.”

Keep your learning curve going at these Northwest pages on the following topics:

  • How to Minimize Risk When Starting a Business: When you start your own business, the risks are endless. Learn how to make smart decisions and reduce the potential for disaster.

  • The LLC Guide: Learn how to start a limited liability company—the most popular type of business structure for new entrepreneurs!



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