The 3 Best Ideas from Great Business Books

the book you dont read

3 years ago I started doing a monthly Business Book Review – a fairly simple idea where I take a business book that I think my clients should read and I summarize it for them (about 7 pages or so) and present it as a discussion with slides over breakfast.  The response has been great – we get 30+ business owners and professionals who love to learn new ideas in the room and end up with a lot of great discussions and ideas in a short period of time.

It’s a great way to network and meet people and a good way to get exposed to important business concepts and ideas from some of the best authors out there.

What Have I Learned…?

The other day I had someone ask me about the book reviews – they noted that I’d been doing this for quite a while, covered a lot of great books and the question was: “Out of all of those great books, what are the top 3 takeaways that you’ve learned doing this?”

It’s a great question (and one that I hadn’t specifically thought about…although I have been noticing a lot of common themes).

Here’s the list of the books that I’ve done so far:


I’ve tried to include a variety of topics but in general all of them should be of interest to business professionals and entrepreneurs. I also went with topics and authors that I enjoy – I discovered it can be really hard to summarize and present on a book that you’re not excited about.  And finally – I’ve stayed away from classics like The E-Myth by Michael Gerber, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, Good to Great by Jim Collins – all great books but I’m assuming most people have already spent time with them.

By the way, if you click on the image of the book list above, you’ll get taken to a pdf  document that you can download, with links to the books on Amazon.


Anyway, back to what I’ve learned – obviously there are dozens if not hundreds of great ideas and takeaways in these books and some will be more impactful than others depending on your situation. As an example, if you’re a business owner that struggles with getting a feel for your financials, then there are some life changing ideas in Profit First and Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits.  If you’re interested in developing a better culture, then The Best Place to Work, Life is Good, Tribal Leadership and Ownership Thinking will all inspire you and give you some great actionable ideas.

So I decided to look at the question from a broader perspective. What are the key themes that keep showing up across these books (and others) that directly relate to business success?

I’m sure there are more than 3 – but here are the 3 that I came up with…I’d love to hear your additions or corrections as well:

1. Focus – if you really want to make progress, on anything, then it’s imperative that you narrow your focus and primarily work on the MOST important things…and let other stuff go. It seems like common sense, but most business owners struggle with this at multiple times. Figure out what makes the biggest difference or impact and focus most of your efforts there.

“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” – Stephen Covey

2. Simplicity – when it comes to business growth, communication, marketing, etc. your best opportunities are going to be simple. A tag line or story that sums up what you’re all about has to be concise, simple and to the point or no one will listen to it.  Your business plan or strategy needs to be a page or two (at the most) or it won’t get worked consistently.  Contrary to popular belief, being effectively simple is very hard to pull off.
“I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have time.” – Attribted to Blaise Pascal, Mark Twain and others
3. People – when it comes to business success or business growth, at some point you have to have the right people on the bus with you.  The right people are those who share  your key values, your culture, who believe what you believe – they’re engaged and they want to win. If you have a team like that, you’re likely to win, regardless of whatever it is that you’re doing.
“With the right people, anything is possible.” – Richard Branson
That’s my list – what do you think?  What big ideas would you add?  We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below…and if you’re ever interested in checking out a book review sometime, we’d love to see you there.