Competitive Strategy by Michael Porter

Although ‘Competitive Strategy’ was published back in 1980, this is still the best book for people seeking specific knowledge on how to assess companies or industries, evaluating risk by assessing those factors affecting the business environment and a study of the key factors that influence an investment.  Michael Porter, a Harvard Business School professor, in this book focuses on two elements that he says are the keys to competitive advantage: cost leadership including proprietary technology and economies of scale) and product differentiation factors with the product attribute being the most important of them all.

I would recommend this book to intermediate investors because the areas of trade it focuses on provide the solid foundation for understanding how companies formulate valuable and successful market strategies while others destroy even the little they had when they try a different approach.  The Competitive Strategy is full of real-life examples that the author relates to and because the examples and illustrations are real-life portrayals, it is easy to understand and to apply the lessons learnt.  As mentioned before, the book was written in 1980 hence the reason it is mostly recommended by the pioneers of modern commerce including local and international investors, managers and business coaches and lecturers worldwide.

‘Competitive Strategy’ is the best guide to learn business strategies, concepts, competitive advantage, technology innovation effects on business, the five forces, market differentiation and customer service.  The basic idea the book is based on is that a company or business can only use one of the three generic strategies and may try to compete by spending the least on cost structure (take Wal-Mart, Ryan Air and South West Airlines as examples) while trying to convince average customers that their products and services are different and better in quality.

apple-vs-microsoft-1If you don’t appreciate business ideas and examples from three decades ago, this may not be the best for you.  However, if you have a creative mind that can easily relate situations and can learn from completely unrelated situations to gain a business advantage, you should read this book.  Porter talks of the then successful companies like Apple and their strategies but completely leaves out some companies that had already showed potential then, like Microsoft.  What makes this book such a classic is that you can learn the strategies that companies used back then and compare how they ended up in the early 90s or even today, or how their strategies have changed since then to predict how the future will be like.

The 30 years difference between the time of publication of Competitive Strategy by Michael Porter should not be an issue because the book is still just as beautiful, coherent, relevant and informative to a modern investor as it was 30 years ago.  Porter’s ideas in this book are spectacularly simple, it is not every day that you read a simple book with complex competitive strategy ideas.  I would suggest you read the beautiful preview of the newest edition to know, in detail, just what this book has to offer you.

3 Must-read Entrepreneurship Books

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‘Entrepreneurs are born, not made’, they say. Although, there is a lot of truth to that statement, there is also a lot that you can do to reach your full potential as an entrepreneur and improve your chances of success. In addition to giving you many strategies, tools other practical information, these books will also help you develop the mindset needed to succeed in business.

Just Start: Take Action, Embrace Uncertainty, Create the Future

ByLeonard A. Schlesinger (Author), Charles F. Kiefer (Author), Paul B. Brown (Contributor)

just start bookThe only constant in business today, is change. For starting entrepreneurs this might seem like a daunting environment to launch a venture, yet it has to be embraced. This is the first key lesson of this book. The forecasting tools of yesterday are of no use in the volatile world we live in. So how can how can anyone start a business without the ability to plan and predict? “Just start”, say the authors of this book. This is the second and most important lesson: in an ever-changing business environment, action is more important than planning. Just start combines innovative research and proven practices, into a simple guide to success in business and life.

Heart, Smarts, Guts, and Luck: What it Takes to be an Entrepreneur and Build a Great Business


By Tony Tjan, Dick Harrington and Tsun-yan Hseih

book on entrepreneurshipThis fascinating book is based on interviews with hundreds of entrepreneurs from all over the world, including some of the most accomplished business builders of our time such as Google co-founder Sergey Brin, Virgin’s Richard Branson and Tony Hsieh of Zappos. The authors were able to isolate the 4 common qualities possessed by all of these highly successful individuals: heart, smarts, guts, and luck. Although these four traits are all shared by entrepreneurs in different proportions, it turns out that each of us has a dominant trait that influences our decisions more than the others. This book will help you figure out your entrepreneurial profile – whether you are:

  • heart-dominant, like Starbucks’s Howard Schultz,
  • smarts-dominant, like Warren Buffett,
  • guts-dominant, like Richard Branso,
  • or it is your intuition for luck that guides you, like venture capitalist Tony Hsieh,

understanding which trait dominates your decision-making process will not only help you achieve greater self-awareness, it will vastly improve the quality of your decisions. As a result you will be able to build a better business, faster.

The $100 Startup

By Chris Guillebeau

book on startupsIn this exciting book, entrepreneur Chris Guillebeau does away with the presumption that you need a lot of money to start a business. He shares the inspiring stories of normal people who managed to turn their passions and even hobbies into profitable ventures, all with minimal investment. The $100 Startup contains tons of models, checklists and practical information all drawn from these real-world examples. It all amounts into a useful guide that shows that anyone can become a successful entrepreneur by acting in innovative ways and challenging the status quo.

With that being said, not all business fall into the micro-business category covered in this book. Many businesses do require a considerable investment to start. When venture capital is not an option, starting entrepreneurs may have no choice but to seek financing from the bank. In doing so, they must keep in mind that state of their personal finances will be critical to obtaining a loan. Many are met with disappointment when they arrive at their bank, prepared with a well developed business plan, only to find out that their loan officer won’t even give it a second look. When you apply for with a bank for your first business loan, the only factor taken under consideration is your personal credit history. Therefore, it is essential for any aspiring entrepreneur to get the personal finances in order before seeking financing.

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These books certainly offer a lot of inspiration and excellent tools to aspiring entrepreneurs or anyone already running a small business. It is clear that launching a startup and succeeding requires a lot of hard work and determination. Many common traits mark the successful entrepreneur, however having real passion for what you do has to be the single most important factor.