It’s easy for us to get wrapped up in the creative side of our business. After all, it’s the fun part. But sometimes the not-so-fun business side of things can get… well, neglected.
I bet we all could use some extra business knowledge, and it’s easily found in business books. I’ve read quite a few, given my corporate background as a business analyst, so I’ve compiled a well-rounded (and not boring!) grouping that are helpful to you, a creative.
- Rework by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson
This easily-digestible book is a must-read. Jason and DHH write brief, yet wicked-smaht business strategies, complete with rockin’ illustrations. It’s the type of book you go back to again and again.
Some of my favorite takeaways:
- Make something you want to use and that you care about. The “care about” part is natural to us, right? But the next time you’re writing a tutorial or pattern or developing a product, ask yourself if it’s something you would want to use.
- Who cares what they’re doing? Stop worrying about what your competition is doing. It can easily become an obsession. It also makes you reactionary instead of visionary. Someone in the sewing industry who does this well: fabric designer Tula Pink.
- Hooked by Nir Eyal
This book focuses on human behavior and specific ways to make your product habit-forming. Nir’s research led to the Hook Model: trigger, action, reward, investment.
My key takeaways:
- Triggers are an alert that the customer receives, like an email. For example, I just got an email from Pinterest saying they found some boards for me, and one of them was an “Altoids tins” board (I have a similar board for repurposing Altoids tins). I couldn’t help but click through to check out that other person’s board. Several pins and thirty minutes later, I’d say that was a successful trigger.
- Rewards are what customers find enjoyable about your product. They can be surprising and unnecessarily delightful. An example I love is the coloring page companion to the Feathers Quilt pattern by Alison Glass & Nydia Kehnle. It helped me pick out my quilt colors but also made the project “unnecessarily” fun!
- Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur
This is my favorite business book. Ever. The single best part of this book is the Business Model Canvas. It’s a design tool for making a one-page visual business plan. It’s the perfect mix of creativity and structure.
For an in-depth review, read my post: A Review of Business Model Generation.
- The Art of Explanation by Lee LeFever
Lee, the guy behind Common Craft videos, says that explanation is a creative act that turns facts into useful, informative, and memorable ideas. This book covers so many topics, like why explanations fail, storytelling, and even his video script outline. Anyone who teaches or writes patterns or tutorials needs to read this book. An excellent explainer in our industry: Sarai Mitnick of Colette Patterns.
- Everybody Writes by Ann Handley
Ann says that whether you’re writing a blog post, sending an email, or posting to Instagram, you are a writer. She shares tons of uber-helpful tips that will help you feel more confident about writing.
Just a couple takeaways:
- Embrace The Ugly First Draft (TUFD). Word-barf your ideas, then edit later. Just as a beautiful hand-sewn dress starts with a muslin test-run, your final draft writing begins as a TUFD.
- Develop pathological empathy. Writing merely for search engines is a waste. Instead, create useful content that solves customer problems, eases their pain, enriches their lives. Someone who does this supremely well: Jenny Hart of Sublime Stitching.
Also, Ann’s a real cool gal. We became Instagram friends after I tagged her while reading this book. She’s cool like that.
Each of these books was inspiring and helpful for me – I hope you’ll find them the same. Have you read any of them? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Angela Bowman is co-owner of Tech Roller, a software development company in Boise Idaho where she manages business operations. She has a business degree and is the current VP of the Boise Modern Quilt Guild. Angela designs sewing patterns at Angela Bowman Design and writes about sewing and business at her personal blog angelab.me. Follow Angela on Instagram and Pinterest @angelabdesign.
Great list, thanks! A couple of these are new to me and I will definitely check them out.
A great list of books to add to my list. Thanks! There’s so many books out there to choose and these summaries are really useful
So glad to hear it!
Great list. I’m going to check a couple out. As for Ann Handley, she’s my idol where newsletter writers are concerned. She has a fantastic newsletter and speaks about newsletters at industry events and on podcasts. I’m still trying to find my own version of her newsletter. Going to read, “Hooked” now.