68 Actionable Ideas from 6 of The Most Influential Business Books

These are actionable ideas from six of the most popular and influential business books today. If you intend to start your own business or simply want to be better at your job, one of these books can be a great source of inspiration.

1. Start With Why (by Simon Sinek)

1. Think inside out (starting with why), not outside in (starting with what). Communicate the why as it fosters a sense of belonging.

2. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.

3. People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. What you do simply proves what you believe.

4. Excited employees and customers who believe in your cause are the most powerful resources an organization can have.

5. Financial incentives or punishments do not motivate people on a deep and emotional level.

6. Customer manipulation may work in the short term, but it doesn’t foster trust and is ultimately counterproductive.

7. The Golden Circle consists of three concentric circles. The what is the outer layer, the how is middle layer, and the why is the core.

8. Making profit is a result of the what and the how, not the why.

9. The Law of Diffusion on innovation breaks down to 2.5% innovators, 13.5% early adapters, 34% early majority, 34% late majority and 16% laggards. If you want mass-market success, you have to achieve a 15–18% tipping point.

10. The early majority won’t accept something until early adapters have tried it and accepted it, and you won’t get early adapters until they believe in what you have.

2. Zero to One (by Peter Thiel)

11. Think about the future as a definitive vision. This is a vision you want to focus on and attain.

12. When thinking about the future, think about the progress which stands between now and the future.

13. Finding ideas most people don’t know about, or agree with, is key to being successful.

14. First aim to be a profitable monopoly at a specific and narrowly defined target market, then expand to other markets.

15. The initial team members are critical. You must find the right mix of skills, vision, and personal connections with each other. This makes it easier to foster a strong company culture.

16. Have balanced owner interests to avoid future misalignments that may cause the company to suffer.

17. Two types of progress bridge the now and the future: horizontal progress (one to n) and vertical progress (zero to one).

18. Vertical progress is hard because it does not exist yet. It requires you to see the present differently. It also requires you to find a truth most people don’t see or agree with.

19. A startup has only one specific future vision leading to success. One must parse decisions relevant to specific conditions.

20. Perfect competition is good for consumers, but it does not drive progress.

21. Real progress, the zero to one type of vertical progress, usually results in monopolies. That means you’re producing something much better than everyone else is.

22. Sales and distribution is vital because your products will never sell themselves. Optimize your sales effort per distribution point to include various sales strategies.

23. Founders tend to be strange people. However, the vision they have is indispensable because the decisions are made to realize that original vision.

3. Purple Cow (by Seth Godin)

24. Take risks at being remarkable, and don’t worry about criticism.

25. Target the people who are both willing to try new things and very vocal at spreading the word to others.

26. Invent the product with marketing.

27. Target and measure your marketing effectively.

28. Don’t emulate the leader, because you’ll never learn the process of turning risks into success.

29. The traditional form of advertising is no longer effective because in today’s overwhelmingly advertised world capturing the consumer’s attention is almost impossible.

30. In today’s crowded marketplace, there is no room for “ordinary.”

31. Being ridiculed can be a good thing, as it spreads word about you and your product.

4. Tipping Point (by Malcolm Gladwell)

32. To spread an idea, you must make sure it sticks first. It has to be something special, catchy, unique, and remarkable to cut through the market noise.

33. Keep the group smaller than 150 if the goal is to effectively spread a message.

34. The spread of ideas is similar in behavior to the spread of epidemics.

35. The tipping point is when ideas spread from an initial niche user base into the mass majority.

36. A select few types of people are generally responsible for ideas to spread: connectors, salesmen, and mavens.

37. External elements influence our behavior. Such influence is generally greater than what we perceive it to be.

38. Small changes in context caused by external elements can have a big ripple effect.

5. The Innovator’s Dilemma (by Clayton Christensen)

39. Have two innovation incubation models for an established firm.

40. Observe how customers are actually using the product.

41. Have discovery-driven planning that is adaptable to various factors of change.

42. Be creative at finding the right customers who can directly benefit from your innovation, rather than a large, less targeted market.

43. Expect trial and error so that a new organization can fail early and without great expense.

44. Don’t develop products and services based on what customers say they would like.

45. Don’t innovate in a singular quality such as performance oversupply. What does innovation look like in functionality, reliability, convenience, and price?

46. Established and entrant firms bring different types of innovations to market.

47. Established firms bring sustaining innovations to maintain market positions and profit margins. However, they still lose market dominance because of their focus on sustaining profits while ignoring new markets brought by disruptive technologies.

48. Knowing what customers want through surveys, focus groups, and interviews is good at incremental improvement, but not effective at creating the next thing.

49. A tunnel-vision chasing of profit margin should be moderated with long term expectations.

50. The difficulty of predicting emerging markets means an established company can’t justify the investment. Consequently, they usually miss out on disruptive technologies and the emerging market that comes with it.

51. Sometimes firms are too inflexible with its Resources/Processes/Values (RPV) framework to adapt to changing conditions.

52. Theoretical models for innovation rarely work in the real world.

53. Disruptive innovations are usually variations on existing technologies that open up a new customer base.

54. The best way for an established company to take advantage of a disruptive technology is to create or acquire an organization that is small but utilizes flexible processes.

6. The Lean Startup (by Eric Ries)

55. Focus the whole team on finding a sustainable business model. The faster the model is found, the likelier the start-up is to succeed.

56. Learn through a scientific approach, constantly validating your findings.

57. Validate your hypotheses by speaking with real customers.

58. Move from believing to knowing by testing the value and growth hypotheses of your product.

59. Test the demand of your product by building a minimal viable product.

60. Establishing the build-measure-learn cycle as fast as possible will get you to your sustainable business model quickly.

61. Split-test all your features to distinguish what would be valuable to your customers and what would be a waste of time.

62. Pick an engine of growth (sticky, viral, or paid) and focus.

63. You must examine the right metric, not superficial metrics that don’t help you towards your goal.

64. Traditional strategies cannot manage start-ups because start-ups lack a history.

65. Don’t be afraid of pivoting your fundamental core assumptions.

66. The main goal for a start-up is to find and build a sustainable business model.

67. Value hypothesis assumes early adopters will accept a product.

68. Growth hypothesis assumes a product will appeal to a larger group of people later.

By Thomas Oppong

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