Often, businesses ignore strategy until an issue arises — such as a loss in product sales or new competition in the marketplace. As a result, they create a mediocre plan and constantly ask themselves what’s next.
A good strategy involves planning for various circumstances. That is what you need to maintain a competitive edge and survive. If you want to learn what good and bad strategy is, get great insights with this list of best business strategy books.
The Best Business Strategy Books
1. Your Next Five Moves: Master the Art of Business Strategy
Your Next Five Moves is one of the best business strategy books, helping you learn how to think ahead. Like a chess grandmaster, you have to anticipate a series of what will take place. Then, you plan your next moves in a sequential order rather than making individual decisions.
In addition to planning, you get great advice on team-building, effective decision-making processes, selling, negotiating, etc. You might enjoy this book because it covers mindset and other topics, including:
- Hiring and firing.
- Raising capital.
- How to manage a company.
2. Good Strategy Bad Strategy
You’ll enjoy Good Strategy Bad Strategy as this book clears the muddled thinking that underlies too many strategies. Rumelt often discredits strategies that executives and consultants pitch and shows you why they’re bad.
Then, he provides a clear-cut way to create an effective, actionable plan you can implement in the real world. Essentially, he debunks the poor strategy elements and helps you understand what a good strategy should possess.
3. Your Strategy Needs a Strategy
The top three Boston Consulting Group executives offer you a proven methodology to determine your business’s best strategic approach. This book also provides a comprehensive overview of overall strategies implemented by modern companies.
In addition, it helps you assess your business’s environment — its unpredictability, adopting the power to change it and how critical it is to get the right strategy. The book includes five strategy archetypes for different business environments and explains their strategic approaches.
Overall, this book will help match your strategic approach to the right environment, how to execute it and how to avoid a mismatch.
4. Good to Great
Another popular business strategy book, Good to Great, examines the differences between mediocre companies and industry champions. Collins gives you a lesson on how to thrive in the business world. He also teaches different concepts like leadership, discipline and technology, showing how each can help your business excel.
The findings of this book might also surprise you as it covers all the areas of management strategies and best practices.
5. Crossing the Chasm
Crossing the Chasm explains how innovative businesses fail to attract a broader, mainstream audience.
At first, they can build that initial momentum with early adopters passionate about their products. Yet as their business grows, they cannot win over a lucrative mainstream market. Therefore, they limit their future for business growth and fail to reach the full profit potential of a longstanding business.
In addition, Crossing the Chasm shows you how to market disruptive products to mainstream audiences. It gives you insights into products that break industry norms and how it requires customers to change their behaviors to use them.
If you find your business is challenging the status quo, this book is a must-read.
6. Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works
The author, A.G. Lafley, describes how he made drastic improvements to Procter & Gamble’s sales and profitability in Playing to Win. In the book, he uses an operational strategy based on five key questions:
- What is our winning aspiration?
- Where will we play?
- How will we win?
- What capabilities should we have to win?
- What management systems do we require to support our choices?
Playing to Win shows you that strategy shouldn’t be mysterious. While it requires creativity, critical thinking and personal leadership, the concept of it is straightforward.
With Playing to Win, you’ll learn to use simple, repeatable methods that can benefit your business. Essentially, you gain a practical formula to strengthen your organization through a series of choices you can make.
7. The Art of Strategy: A Game Theorist’s Guide to Success in Business and Life
The Art of Strategy is a great business strategy book for beginners. The book draws on game theory principles, explaining how to guess your competitors’ next moves and prepare for them. This book is complete with critical strategic thinking, teaching you how to outsmart the competition through scientific and mathematical logic.
The authors will show you how to find patterns in random occurrences and provide several case studies for you to examine. With plenty of concrete examples, this book makes game theory simple and applicable in life and your career.
8. Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant
Many business strategy books will tell you how to dominate a crowded market. However, Blue Ocean Strategy explains taking the opposite approach. It supports strategies for finding and seizing new opportunities.
In other words, you can find a better way to remove competition by pursuing a road less traveled. In this book, the authors describe how you can identify neglected needs of consumers and generate new demand.
Blue Ocean Strategy gets you to think about how you can become a big fish in a small pond.
9. Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors
Competitive Strategy’s initial publication was decades ago, but it is still relevant today. Michael E. Porter explains to readers how to summarize and surpass competitors by performing in-depth competitive analysis. Then, it shows you how to take appropriate actions.
This book consists of three sections:
- General Analytical Techniques
- Generic Industry Environments
- Strategic Decisions
You can expect each chapter to examine the various aspects of studying your opponents and challenging them. Competitive Strategy is virtually a market advantage encyclopedia, and the writing and exploration of this topic are dense.
However, it’s a great read for those who want to think ahead and innovatively.
10. Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies
Nothing is more exciting than reading about how other companies have succeeded. You can draw on inspiration with Built to Last by learning the characteristics and behaviors of thriving companies.
This book extensively analyzes factors that helped companies survive tough times and competitive landscapes. Build to Last notes the keys to industry success and longevity.
In addition, it covers topics such as goal-setting, cult-like culture building, change management and frameworks for a long-lasting duration.
11. Seeing Around Corners: How To Spot Inflection Points in Business
Seeing Around Corners focuses on inflection points — or major industry shifts. The author gives you a how-to explanation on predicting these changes and preparing for them.
Changing customer needs and expectations, technological advancements and competitor evolution can disrupt the market. However, innovative companies know what to expect from the challenges that come from these changes and are ready to adapt.
In this book, you can expect easy-to-follow techniques for anticipating and overcoming curveballs. It’s the essential guide to proofing your business for disruption.
12. Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business
Traction by Gino Wickman talks about the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS). It’s a practical approach for business owners because it uses a simple method to help them fix their problems.
The book has many examples and easy-to-use tools that teach you how to regain control of your business and build a strong team. While these tactics may be simple to implement, the easiest methods are sometimes the most powerful.
Wickman teaches you to hone in on your vision and adopt a growth-oriented mindset. It shows you how to collect data on your strategies so you can make better decisions based on business trends.
13. The Innovator’s Dilemma
The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton M. Christensen is a crucial book for businesses to explore. It looks at why big companies that do everything right can still fail.
The book reveals that success can make businesses blind to disruptive technology, as many of them are likely to dismiss them due to their focus on listening to customers. This leaves room for smaller, agile companies to capitalize on these innovations.
As a small-business owner, you’ll learn to leverage your size and agility to disrupt larger competitors. This book contains real-life examples and insights, providing a clear guide to embracing innovative ideas.
14. Zero to One
You’ll find Zero to One by Peter Thiel as a valuable resource as a business owner. It’s one of the best business strategy books that examines the power of innovation and how to build a unique and successful business.
Thiel inspires business owners to think differently — not to improve on what’s already there — but to create something entirely new, going from zero to one. This book is full of helpful information about how to make advanced business movements without overdoing it.
Additionally, it asks tough questions that every business owner should consider, teaching you to be open-minded and flexible. It stresses the importance of daring to do something no one else does. For small businesses, Zero to One can spark new ideas, inspire bold strategies, and pave the way for success.
15. The Lean Startup
Many startups fail within their first few years of existence, with many of these failures being preventable. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries introduces new tactics that help businesses be more flexible and responsive to changes. The book talks about “lean thinking,” which motivates companies to explore creativity and put their ideas to the test before investing more time and money.
It also highlights the idea of learning from failures and making quick improvements before it’s too late. The author provides a scientific approach and practical advice to help small businesses grow and achieve long-term sustainability in a fast-paced world.
16. The Hard Thing About Hard Things
The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz is a fantastic read, as it doesn’t sugarcoat the tough parts of running a business. Instead, it provides honest insights into the challenges that business leaders face.
Horowitz shares his experiences, offering real-world solutions to tough problems like crisis management, hiring and firing. He shares in his book that there are no easy answers, only hard truths.
This book offers valuable lessons incorporated with lyrics from his favorite songs. The book is all about how to be resilient and the tools you need to successfully handle the ups and downs of running a business.
17. Competitive Advantage
Competitive Advantage by Michael E. Porter introduces the concept of “value chain,” helping business owners understand where they can create the most value in their operations. Porter explains how to identify your strengths, use them to set yourself apart from competitors and carve your own space in the market.
If you’ve tried to gain the upper hand but were unsuccessful, this book is full of insights that help you get down to understanding the roots of competition. It also stresses that competition isn’t about being better — it’s about how you can be different from the rest.
With Competitive Advantage, you’ll learn how to create unique value and stand out in a crowded market. It’s a great business guide to building a strategy that can lead your company to success.
Provide Yourself a Roadmap
The best business strategy books you see here guide you through achievable goals that give you sustainable results. Even though constructing a foolproof plan isn’t easy, you have no shortage of expert advice. These books share real-life observations and experiences that will lead you down the most innovative path.
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