These Five Books Will Inspire You To Achieve Great Things

Social entrepreneurs recommend the books which have inspired, motivated and reassured them in their quest to social entrepreneurship.


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There is a lot to be learnt from those who have been there and done it when it comes to creating a successful business. With this in mind, we asked last year's The Venture Alumni to list the books they live by and that provided the inspiration for them to go on and achieve great things. We have whittled the list down to the five most important titles that helped them on the road to success.

1. The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries

Based on the "lean startup' method developed by Eric Ries in 2008, the book champions experimentation and swift iterations in order to reduce the risk of failure for startups. Ries' lean startup philosophy looks to eliminate wasteful practices during product development so that startups have a better chance of success without the need of excessive funding. By releasing a product early, even if it's not perfect, they can rely on customer feedback to refine it. This adapt-as-you-go model prevents startups from pouring all their funds into the launch of an initial product or service that has nowhere to go if it fails.

Why you should read this: Whatever type of startup you are this is essential reading if you want to reach your goals quickly, and if you just want to work smarter, this book changes the game by positively challenging you to be more productive.

What The Venture alumni say? SocialGiver's co-founder, Aliza Napartivaumnuay: "This is all about the science of starting up a business. If we had read this book before launching, we might have got to where we are now at half the time and at half the cost."

2. What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20: A Crash Course on Making Your Place in the World by Tina Seelig

The transition from the sheltered environment of education into the real world of work can sometimes be a little daunting. Tina Seelig, an entrepreneur, neuroscientist, and teacher shows you how to reach your potential. The book is chock-a-block with enlightening examples, from the classroom to the boardroom, of individuals defying expectations, challenging assumptions, and achieving amazing success. Seelig throws out the old rules and provides a new model for reaching our highest potential.

Why you should read this: To empower you to see the opportunity in everything and to help you turn any bumps in the road into positives.

What The Venture alumni say? Sensprout's founder, Yoshihiro Kawahara: "You will discover how to have a healthy disregard for the impossible, how to recover from failure, and how most problems are remarkable opportunities in disguise."

3. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Certainly not to be confused with Toby Young's How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, Carnegie wrote this influential book 80 years ago, making it one of the first self-help bestsellers. Carnegie offers practical advice and techniques for how to get out of a mental rut and make life more rewarding. The author came to be known as 'the arch-priest of the art of making friends', and pioneered the development of personal business skills, self-confidence and motivational techniques.

Why you should read this: For plenty of practical advice on how to persuade people to follow your way of thinking. There is also some great insights on how to become a better public speaker.

What The Venture alumni say: Coolpeds' Tony Chan: "It teaches you how to communicate effectively with people and respect them."

4. Grow: How Ideals Power Growth And Profit At the World's 50 Greatest Companies by Jim Stengel

Stengel spent nearly ten years gathering empirical data from 50,000 companies to discover how the world's 50 best businesses from Apple to Red Bull have done so well. Through this research he discovered a cause and effect relationship between financial performance and the brand's ability to connect with fundamental human emotions, hopes, values and greater purposes.

Why you should read this: To discover the X factor in your business.

What The Venture alumni say? Diamond Cab's Doris Leung: "It provides inspiration from the business world to how social enterprise can scale up just like the greatest companies. Shared Value wins!"

5. The Virgin Way by Richard Branson

With almost half a century of business under his belt, the Virgin Group founder is better equipped than most to articulate the everyday challenges one faces when trying to build a successful business. From leadership to the importance of listening, Branson charts his meteoric rise to the top whilst providing crucial snippets of advice throughout.

Why you should read this: Although he is largely associated with successful business ventures, Branson's book is packed full of advice one could easily apply to daily life. He writes, "If your instinct is positive, then go with it. Just be sure that you don't make the same mistakes over and over."

What The Venture alumni say? Échale a Tu Casa founder, Francesco Piazzesi: "It shows how to make business not just a good idea but also a vehicle for developing humanity."

First published by Chivas The Venture on

The Venture is a global social enterprise initiative searching for extraordinary startups and new ideas that use business to create positive change. If you have a GCC-based social enterprise or an idea for a social enterprise, enter The Venture #WinTheRightWay to potentially win your share of US$1 million. Entries close on 30th November.

Related: Profit Or Purpose: Finding The Balance for Your Startup

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