Let’s face it. We’ve all been there. Somewhere in the back of our heads is a little thought whenever we walk into a bookstore – Do these self-help books actually make you better?

With a never-ending selection to choose from — autobiographies, self-help books, professional business management. How do you even decide which book is really useful to your business? Within each genre, how different are they actually? 40 tips to achieving success, how to manage your business better, unleash the true potential in your business etc. How do you choose? Are these buzzwords to lure you into picking it up?

Don’t worry, I face the dilemma too. Sometimes, I too, wonder if these business books can in fact add value to my organisation.

It is true that all great leaders have a story to tell. And the stories of successful business magnates like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates alike, tells a story of how knowledge and information was pivotal in their ascent up the ladder of success. In this article, we explore the many ways self-help books can value add to your business and your personal development.


Self-help books are your personal mentors

Ideas Productivity Business Innovation

Reading a book is the fastest way to absorb new information and develop new ideas. When starting out on your own, business self-help books provide a peek into the world of business and sets you on the right footing.

Imagine accumulating the wealth of knowledge and experience of an author who had navigated the current business predicament that you are facing; from just reading a book. It is akin to buying lottery already knowing the winning numbers .

Books written by business veterans and successful entrepreneurs may reveal important details of critical processes and teach you how you should run your business and help you create your own success story.

These people share more about their experience on how they overcame obstacles and dealt with tough situations. Through these experiences, we can develop ideas on how to tackle future problems that come our way.

Additionally, these books simply work best because they are the echoes of people who were once in your shoes. Through their journey to success, we can take a few learning points to apply into our business. After all, a smart man learn from his own mistakes, but a wise man learn from other’s mistakes.

Context Matters

Some business management books are often generic in nature and we have to recognise that there are some limitations to what these help books can do for us.

For example, some management books give tips that help you apply to all sorts of situations. To us, it is difficult to streamline to the key winning formula catered specifically to the context of your business.

What we mean is that a company selling lipsticks vs a company selling lightbulbs will face completely different challenges and environments. With different customer segments and needs in the industry, it might be difficult to gauge what to apply into your business.

Hence, keep in mind your business dynamics while reading to evaluate if the book is useful and applicable to your needs. Some ideas may work for one industry but may fail in the other. You need to judge which takeaway is most appropriate for your company.

Less is More

Man Jumping over obstacles

I believe you actually do not require that many books to become successful. Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to imply that reading more books is bad. However, you don’t need to read all the help books out there in the world to find the best way to success.

Rather, what i am trying to say here is you have to be a doer and not a reader to be successful. You could only rely on a few business help books and what matters is what you do after reading.

You will need to figure out what direction to take and apply it to your business to gain the maximum utility as you begin your journey into the business world.

A self-help book will only get you so far. From there, it depends on how hard you are willing to fight for what you believe in.

You have now finished your book and are ready to make a difference.

What do you do first?

Keep your foot on the ground

A good self-help book should be able to ground you with the foundation if you are a first-timer. While there is certainly some truth in every book, what is more important is to maintain realistic expectations when reading them. We may unintentionally utilise the halo effect, especially if it features a successful person as a role model.

What is the halo effect?

The halo effect is a cognitive bias to believe what you interpret and perceive based on your good feelings for the subject. Therefore, we tend to be a little more receptive to retaining the information if we feel a sense of empowerment and motivation after we finish the book.

Self-help books can help you to push your boundaries with renewed motivation. With a positive attitude, you would be more willing to try and to venture out of your comfort zone.

That is the key to bringing out change in your business.

Ironically, trying to incorporate all ideas you learn immediately to your business is risky because your business may not be ready to adapt straight away. Thus, you need to manage your perception on what you can/cannot do. Spreading yourself over too wide a scope from an overly positive outlook can waste unnecessary resources, especially if your business cannot cope.

Make it happen in your business

The purpose of these self-help books is teach you and encourage you to start onto the path to success. Usually, you would see books like how to start your own business, being a successful entrepreneur and the list goes on and on.

It is easy to read about big ideas and change. Yet, most people struggle to break down into smaller and achievable action steps.

In the end, they just either give up and fall back to same routine or do nothing at all. That would kind of defeat the purpose of the self-help book.

Small Steps to Success

Most of the time, these self-help books contain very abstract situations and advice for the average Joe to apply into his business.

Sadly, there is no hard and fast rule on how to gain success in your business. It is all a series of trial and errors. What these books can do is to mentally prepare you for what is out there.

Implementing new ideas can only work through a series of tests and checks to see what works best for you.

Hence, there is nothing like going out there and doing it yourself in order to fully understand what these books are getting to.

By creating small actionable steps to your business, you are able to see how your business adapts to these changes. And you are only going to get better from here. Experience is your best teacher and every failure is a lesson. So we can only take each step as it comes and learn along the way.

Success isn’t an end point

Success Life businessThe constant act of doing the same thing everyday makes you great. But most people tend to forget that achieving success doesn’t mean a happily ever after where you can finally relax and enjoy the fruits of your labour.

It is a continuous process of working for what you believe in. Cliche as it sounds, do what you love and you never have to work for a single day in your life.

I do believe that statement holds a certain power because we all want to work for a purpose.

It could be financial gains, status, passion, whichever works. If we could just make work a little bit more meaningful then that too is a form of success.

Maybe to some extent, reaching the end of the book also implies that success is an end result. Most successful business veterans will always say they are still looking for success everyday despite their long track record.

Hence, you have to be ready to put in the effort and commitment to make your dream come alive. When you have established yourself, you are going to have to continuously maintain that.

Finally, as we come to the end of the rather lengthy article, i hope i have brought a more balanced perspective on how to help your business. Maybe these books will be a big form of inspiration in your life. Ultimately, to take your business to the next step depends on you.

To see what else we have about life and business, check out What I learnt about Business after Working 6 Months with a Hawker!