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When You Write Your Letter to Santa…

As business owners and entrepreneurs, one of the best things we can do is invest in ourselves. What do I mean?

As a business owner, arguably the most important asset in your business is YOU! It is therefore crucial that you invest both time and money developing yourself both as an individual and also as a business owner.

That means keeping informed and up to date, learning new skills, developing existing ones, honing leadership skills, learning strategies.

So how to invest in yourself and develop your skills as a business owner?

There are of course many ways. A whole range of conferences, training courses, business exhibitions and shows, podcasts and business magazines exist to help you learn new skills around leadership, marketing, sales, strategic thinking, personal development and so on.

And reading great business books is another excellent way to invest in yourself. These days that can of course be done electronically, but I have to say, I still love the feel and smell of a good old-fashioned book!

So, this Christmas why not invest in developing your business skills and add a book or two to your Christmas list.

Who knows what Santa might leave under the Christmas Tree!!

Of the books I’ve read this past year, here’s three I highly recommend.

  1. The Grid by Matt Watkinson


Watkinson’s premise is that for success, every business must pursue three goals: desirability (for your product or service), profitability and longevity. He also states that these goals are affected by three forces: the customer, the market and the organisation itself.

These goals and forces reveal a grid of nine factors that together determine the success of every business. The result is, using the grid, you are able to quickly carry out a ‘health check’ of your business:

  • What are the current strengths and weaknesses of the business?
  • Which areas of the business should I be prioritising?
  • Are there any blind spots I’m missing?
  • What constraints are limiting growth?

These are just some of the questions you can ask and then run through the grid to start getting some answers.

Because it’s a decision-making tool for your business, it could hardly be called a relaxing ‘10 minutes before bedtime’ read, but rather requires concentration and work. But in my view it is well worth the effort for the impact it will have on your business.

2. Built to Last by Jim Collins & Jerry Porras

The book is very much research based over a number of years, and essentially ‘Built to Last’ examines the success habits of great companies.

Amongst other things, it looks at culture, strategy, vision and something Collins and Porras call a ‘BHAG’ – a big hairy audacious goal!

In looking at great companies, Collins and Porras examine why they succeed and what they do that makes them different from their competitors.

Within the book, at the end of each chapter, there is a section aimed specifically at CEO’s, managers and entrepreneurs. Within these sections, there are numerous practical takeaways that you can use within your own business.

I certainly found the section on vision and values really helpful as I think about what I want Funding Track to look like as we go into the 2020’s.

I strongly recommend anything by Jim Collins. His books are always research based and Built to Last is no different. Definitely worth a read!

3. The Race of My Life by Hermann Maier

Hermann Maier is an Austrian skier who at his peak was virtually unrivalled, winning Olympic Gold as well as numerous World Cup downhill races.

Then in the summer of 2001, he was involved in a near-fatal motorcycle accident. His right leg was completely shattered, and doctors told him he was unlikely to ski again. But firstly learning to walk, then to run, then to ski, he not only skied again for his country but in 2004 won another World Cup title.

This is not a business book, but, if as a business owner you want a truly inspiring story of tenacity, overcoming the odds, never giving up and ultimately being victorious, I would highly recommend Maier’s autobiography.

Taking the time to read great business books is an excellent way of investing in both yourself and your business. And any of these three books will provide ideas, strategies and inspiration as you prepare your business for 2020.

So, here’s what to do. Create the list of books you want for Christmas. Write a letter and then post it to Santa!!

And if all else fails, there’s always Amazon!

And on that note, we at Funding Track would like to wish you a very happy and peaceful Christmas and a prosperous New Year.