We are inundated on a regular basis with a plethora of business books that claim to be the answer to all of our entrepreneurial prayers. How do you work out which books you should read with so many to choose from?
Our continuing series, “3 Business Books that Changed My Life”, aims to provide you with some guidance. We have asked some of Australia’s top business bloggers and business owners to nominate the books that have made an impact in their life.
He is a pioneer in online retail in Australia, and has built Kogan into a $200 million a year company. He is innovative, forward-thinking, and dares to challenge the established business order at every turn.
Here are the three business books that changed his life:
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand and Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Throughout my life I have always accepted reality and never conformed to the norm or public opinion. As a result of this, I spent half my high school days being kicked out of class. After high school, I was introduced to Ayn Rand and her philosophy of Objectivism. I quickly learned that there was a whole community of people that share similar values to me. Objectivism is all about accepting reality and facts, no matter how much you might not like them. This is very helpful in business, because it means you are always acting on real information, and making the best possible decision at all times. You don’t let emotions or falsehoods influence your decisions. You also learn to assess people based on merit, rather than all the irrelevant characteristics that many people based their decisions on.
These two great books also teach you about individualism and how human beings are capable of achieving amazing things. They teach you how there is no such thing as collective thought, and how it was great individuals throughout the history of the world that have managed to further the human race by thinking like no-one else before them had thought. These books teach you that while your opinions may not be popular with everyone, you must persevere and follow not what others think, but what you know in order to achieve happiness. These books serve both as a guide to rational thinking, as well as a great motivational tool by demonstrating what a human being is capable of achieving. For instance, when I started suggesting to business leaders that I was about to start selling big screen TVs online, they thought I was crazy and said things like, “As if anyone will buy a TV online.” While on the surface these are fictional novels, the lessons they teach you for life and business are amongst the most valuable I’ve experienced.
Freakanomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
Freakonomics is a great book by economists Levitt and Dubner who show us the importance of statistics and how readily available they are all around us. For a business, facts and statistics are very important. They can help you understand your business and put the right measures in place for growth. The Kogan business is driven by facts and numbers. We’re always searching for more efficient ways to deliver the latest technology to our customers.
Facts and stats drive every area of the business. One example is in our marketing and product development, where we constantly analyse what products people are looking for and how they find them. Another is website development, where we look at how people get there, what pages they land at, how long they view each page for, how long they stay on the site, what pages make people stay and leave, how many clicks it takes someone to make a purchase. We’re analysing these statistics on a daily basis based on millions of visitors and page views. We then interpret the statistics and use the data to drive decisions across all areas of our business.
We don’t make changes to our business because we think it will work or give us a warm fuzzy feeling, but because we know, from hard evidence, that it will benefit our customers and our business. Freakanomics shows how important the hard data is to properly understand your business and the world.
What business books have inspired you?
Learn how to write your own business book with our seminar, How to Write a Business Book.