5 Business Books You Should Have Read Last Year

Date: February 19, 2014

Big data, female execs, customer loyalty and other topics business writers were talking about in 2013

Need a few tips to boost your business this year? Peruse these books, each of which appeared on 2013 “best” lists in publications like The New York Times, Entrepreneur, Forbes and Inc.

Big Data by Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Kenneth Cukier
The crunching of vast amounts of data to better understand customers is something only major corporations like Amazon and Google can afford, right? Not so fast, say authors Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, a professor of Internet governance and regulation at the Oxford Internet Institute at Oxford University, and Kenneth Cukier, the data editor for The Economist. They make the case that even small companies can afford—and benefit from—increasingly important analytics and analysis tools.

RELATED: Your Small Business Still Isn’t Data Mining?

The Effortless Experience by Matthew Dixon, Rick DeLisi and Nick Toman
Think you have to dazzle customers to earn their loyalty? The research that drives The Effortless Experience suggests the so-called “dazzle factor” doesn’t, in fact, predict repeat sales, share of wallet or positive word-of-mouth. Instead, this book’s authors say “loyalty is driven by how well a company delivers on its basic promises and solves day-to-day problems, not on how spectacular its service experience might be.”

RELATED: Want More Loyal Customers? Show Them Some Love

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
Calling on personal anecdotes culled from Sandberg’s rich experience as a leader—she served as chief of staff for the United States Secretary of the Treasury and as a vice president at Google before becoming Facebook’s chief operating officer in 2008—as well as plenty of hard data and research, Lean In examines “why women’s progress in achieving leadership roles has stalled, explains the root causes and offers solutions that can empower women to achieve their full potential.”

RELATED: Recession-Proof? How Women Made It Work (Infographic)

The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
It’s easy enough to see why this inspirational tome topped a number of best-seller lists in 2013. After all, its authors—one of whom, Gary Keller, is chairman of the board and co-founder of Keller Williams Realty Inc.—promise that the method they describe within can help people achieve better results (in less time), build momentum toward goals, cut through clutter and dial down stress in both their personal and work lives so they can focus on the things that matter most.

RELATED: How to Identify Your Most Critical Business Decision

Thinking in New Boxes by Luc de Brabandere and Alan Iny
In truth, this book would deserve a nod here even if its only claim to fame was that it effectively takes an axe to the tired cliché “think outside the box.” But there’s far more to Thinking in New Boxes than that. Case in point: Its authors assert that to make sense of the world, we all rely on assumptions and models—what de Brabandere and Iny call “boxes.” Being unaware of our boxes can blind us to risks and opportunities, they assert, while doing the opposite can help us harness creativity.

READ NEXT: Best Small Business Books of 2012

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