Business Books for the New Year

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books-new-year.jpgThe new year is a great time to take in new ideas for growing your business. Here's several intriguing books that recently hit my shelf--in some cases, my virtual shelf.

Here's an upcoming book, due out next month, that sounds really useful for today's economy: Flip the Funnel: How to Use Existing Customers to Gain New Ones by Joseph Jaffe. Retaining customers is the new customer acquisition, Jaffe says. The marketer and author of the Jaffe Juice blog offers his tips for how to keep existing customers and grow your relationships with them.

Is your business going south? Author Gary Brose, also known as The Small Business Sherpa, believes you can turn things around with the right employee bonus program. He describes his system in Bonus Your Way to Profits! His bio says he is the president of four corporations, so here's hoping he's got some time-management tips for us as well.

If you want to learn more about how to ride social media to business success, you can read how 15 of today's social-media stars leveraged their blogs to build consulting businesses, land book deals and more in the lengthy e-bookBeyond Blogging by Nathan Hangen and Mike Cliffe Jones. Among the profile subjects are Mashable's Peter Cashmore;uber-blogger Chris Brogan, the co-author of Trust Agents;and wine-Web-video sensation Gary Vaynerchuk, whose blog led to publication of his business book Crush It! (Full disclosure: I was sent a complimentary download of this book.)

I got to talk with Nathan this week, and have to say I find his own story inspiring. If you're making excuses about why you can't ramp up your business, know that he started his marketing-consulting business while deployed with the Army in Afghanistan. Despite the success of his Twitter Rockstarmarketing course and related consulting work, he's still in the military, though back here in the States now. He works for the U.S. during the day, on his business until late at night, and in his free time he trains for triathlons. Kind of makes you feel like a slacker, huh?

I'm not entirely sure if this last book is written as straightforward advice or as a satire of business books, but if your business is lagging the rules in Profits Aren't Everything, They're the Only Thing by self-described "ultimate contrarian" and columnist George Cloutier may be eye-opening. The founder of American Management Services calls "hugs-and-puppies" advice like striving for work-life balance sickening.

Among his rules: Weekends are for working, be a control freak, and "stop playing golf and get back to work." It's harsh advice, but if you're in trouble, this may be the bitter pill you need to swallow right now.

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