There's an adage that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. This can apply to many online retailers in the sense that it's easy to start a business and make a few bucks, but even easier to fail miserably in the long run. They don't know enough to keep a business going even if they have a marketable idea or product.
Acquiring knowledge and skills for entrepreneurship can be a long, frustrating, and costly process if you do it on the fly. Yes, some of the most successful entrepreneurs did it that way. It's particularly true in e-commerce, because you are breaking new ground, relatively speaking. However, there is no reason why you have to only learn the hard way, as some of the best business minds on the planet have been generous enough to share their experience.
Why? To help would-be entrepreneurs get over the worst of the bumps and grow fortunes of their own! And possibly because writing bestselling self-help books is also a very profitable business venture in and of itself. Regardless of motive, insights provided by the brightest business minds can be an invaluable resource to any up-and-coming e-commerce entrepreneur.
Here are 10 bestselling business books to help any e-commerce venture become wildly successful; some may even be considered the best business books of all time.
The cool dude you wouldn't believe is a billionaire (multiple times over) is also the founder of the world famous Virgin brand, an umbrella name under which falls an investment group, airline, cellphone company, entertainment agency, and even a line of freaking next-generation spaceships. Branson gives business advice that you would be well-advised to check out. He's the epitome of the laid-back genius, but that image conceals a sharp and intuitive mind with the organizational skills to match.
No list of business books would be complete without some input from the brains behind "The Apprentice." Together with entrepreneurial icon Robert Kiyoski, Donald Trump shares stories that detail their adventures as they moved from miserable failures to success stories through hard work, perseverance, and more than a little luck.
E-commerce has gone global, but that doesn't mean you should lose the human touch. Social media and e-commerce guru Gary Vaynerchuk talks about how any company, no matter the size, can benefit from cultivating a personal relationship with its customers. Yes, that's a tall order for larger companies, but it can — and should — be done.
There is perhaps no bigger challenge in e-commerce than to foster trust. Because there is no actual physical contact between the company and its customer base (unlike in traditional brick-and-mortar businesses), the authors suggest a combination of the practical and theoretical to build a company's reputation and influence, as well as ways to garner trust using social media.
This book should be a mainstay in every entrepreneur's library. It's definitely not a new offering, but some principles remain relevant even after 78 years. After all, people are people, right? This classic was published way back in 1936 and has undergone several revisions since then, but the main emphasis has always been the same: how to make friends so that you can spread your influence. More than fifteen million people seem to think the simple strategies here make perfect sense.
Marketing guru Seth Godin firmly believes in the value of being different. That explains why he doesn't do anything so cliché as titling his book by the over-used (and much-abused) piece of wisdom, “think outside the box.” In "Poke the Box," he focuses on making the reader think about their particular box and getting them to analyze exactly what they're doing right or wrong. From there he even helps his readers to develop strategies on how to correct their mistakes, and how to build upon what they've learned from them.
This book is particularly apt for those who are transitioning from a 9-to-5 to starting their own business. It discusses the fears, anxieties and soul-searching with which people who leave the security of the corporate world for the adventure of self-employment must inevitably grapple. Basing the example on her own experiences, the author encourages readers to use her life as a mirror for reflection before they take the plunge, and shows how to do it successfully.
Why do some videos go viral and similar others don't? Why do some ideas catch on and others fail to make it out the door? Malcolm Gladwell explores that magical moment he calls “the tipping point.” That is the moment when a trend, behavior, or idea makes it big. He articulately explains how and why an idea can gain mass appeal.
What better source of wisdom than straight from the horse's mouth? "Founders at Work" is a collection of interviews with the brains behind the most famous and successful digital technology companies in the world, including Apple, PayPal, 37 Signals, and Yahoo. Each founder details how they got to where they are today from when they were first starting out. This is a real eye-opener if you've ever wanted to see how business giants are made.
If you need some advice on how to take an already-successful business to the next level, this is a good book for you to check out. There are creative but practical suggestions on how to promote and market your business that you can implement immediately.
There are loads more of great books out there that could help you in your e-commerce business, but these are the ones that really caught our attention. If there's a book we missed that you know can help any of our other readers because it helped you, then by all means please tell us about it! Leave your favorites in the comments section.
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