Stop reading now!

Business books are a waste of shelf space unless you act on what you read

Every publication offering advice on how to run your business is a con, a rip-off. Reading them is the root of all evil. These books should carry a government health warning: “Following the advice of this best-selling author is tantamount to signing a death warrant for your company.”

So, why am I, a published author, ranting about the uselessness of business books – is this really a suicide note? No. I am desperate that you don’t waste your money on business books (mine included) unless you are prepared to really use the book to make a significant difference to your business. 

Let me expand on why books, even good ones, can do you so much harm. Usually you simply can’t do all the things suggested; you can’t see the relevance of what you have read for your business; the author never quite tells you what you need to do; or maybe the book is basically a load of rubbish.

Failure is key

So what really is my beef?

  •  Ironically, all self-help industries (business books included) depend on failure – look at the success of the various diet clubs. If they were any good, people would attend and never need to return… but they do.
  •  There is an inverse correlation between your business success and the number of business books you own. 
  •  Few people who have actually ‘been there and done it’ write brilliant business books.
  •  Most publications are written to satisfy the ego of the author.
  •  At best, most business books tell you stuff you knew already.

There are, of course, numerous exceptions to these rules. The problem at the heart of my argument is simple: people buy and read the books, but they don’t implement anything – so why waste your time reading them if you’re not going to bother to do anything about it?

Taking action

So what is to be done? I beg and implore you never to buy another business book without first committing to make your reading time well spent.

And what should you do? By now, if you had acted on suggestions, inspiration or things to avoid at all costs you should know what you need to know (because you’ve read all about it). So now it’s time to make things happen. It is as simple as that.

The rules of running a business are reasonably straightforward – you just need to apply them with enthusiasm and determination. So here are your six rules:

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1. Sell a product that people want to buy, and sell it for more than it costs you.

2. Focus on your customers’ needs, wants and hurts, and present your product in such a way that it seduces them to buy from you.

3. Deliver remarkable service, and create ‘raving fans’ and ambassadors.

4. Charge decent prices so you can invest in the business, and do not compete on price.

5. Take action, as these things don’t just happen on their own.

6. And, finally, make sure you  focus on your endgame.

PS: Fahrenheit 451 is the burning temperature of paper.

About the author

Robert Craven is an entrepreneur, businessman and author who has run Mastermind Groups and action-centred learning with Warwick Business School, Business Growth Programme and London’s Accelerated Growth Programme among others. His latest book is Grow Your Service Firm . He is managing director of The Directors’ Centre.


(will not be published)