Business Books to Read Summer 2011

Our Summer idyll will end in just a couple of weeks, but there’s still time to squeeze in some all-important professional development and maybe a meeting with a promising prospect, too.  Freelancers cannot afford to merely work hard when September rolls around.  We must also work smart.  I’m lucky to have discovered a trove of worthwhile business books that will make me smarter and I’m happy to pass along my take on what I’ve read.

The books will teach us effective ways to turn prospects into clients (sell only to VITOs),  how to devise business goals and strategies that will ensure our long-term success (because the red ocean is where you’ll drown)  and that  y=f(x) —and how to apply that formula to make both our own and our clients’ business processes operate more efficiently and profitably (what’s your sigma?).

The Borders book chain is going out of business, so why not make the most of that sad event and scoop up a few titles on the cheap? What’s not left on the shelves at Borders can be checked out of your local library.  Get started now on creating both a strong fourth quarter and laying the groundwork for a financially healthy 2012.

The Secrets of VITO: Think and Sell Like a CEO (2002)  Anthony Parinello
If Freelancers expect to convince decision-makers to award us assignments,  it is imperative that we understand what motivates them to hire us.  This astute and sophisticated book helps Freelancers understand the standard concerns,  priorities and mindset of the typical CEO or organization leader.  Learn how to win trust and convey expertise.  Learn smart ways to approach, persuade,  negotiate with and sell to those who can either veto or green-light our projects.

Blue Ocean Strategy (2005)  W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne

Blue Oceans represent untapped markets and undiscovered customer preferences.  Who knew they craved Sony’s Walkman or Apple’s iPod until the marketing campaign told them so?  Red Oceans represent mature,  shrinking and highly competitive markets.  Remain there and your business will surely operate in the red and perish. This classic guide to innovative strategy development shows Freelancers,  business owners,  corporate execs and nonprofit organization leaders how to pursue fearless, rational and uncomplicated approaches that will redefine and energize strategic direction,  articulation of the value proposition, the business model and marketing.

Six Sigma for Dummies (2005)  Neil DeCarlo, Craig Gygi and Bruce Williams

Six Sigma is a highly sophisticated and exacting data-driven process improvement system that was originally designed for manufacturing companies.  However,  the system can be successfully applied to service delivery as well,  from hospitals and health clinics to restaurants and financial institutions.  Six Sigma will substantively minimize errors and inefficient practices in product manufacturing and service delivery systems.  The material is complex,  but the book is well-written and very clear.  I found that anyone whose work involves operations,  strategy or finance will benefit from exposure to the basics of Six Sigma, whether or not you become formally trained in its tenets.  You’re bound to gain useful insights on how to accurately measure, assess and streamline the delivery of your organization’s products or services.

Thanks for reading,


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