It is often useful to borrow someone else’s experience when you’re stuck in a difficult place or are in need of ideas. Southeast Asia is a market so new that entrepreneurs look to the West or China for inspiration. In today’s over-excess of information, ecommerceIQ has spoken with influencers from DHL, Lazada, aCommerce and more to discover which book helped them build successful companies.
They answer some of the most common questions:
How can you build a strong product?
Eric Riles’ The Lean Startup looks at how many of the failures in startups are actually preventable. Riles takes you through a lean approach that many companies are adopting, which is changing the way products are launched. The lean approach encourages entrepreneurs to continuously test their vision, rather than creating elaborate but unrealistic business plans.
Why should you read it? It’s important for founders to understand the know-hows of building a company with few resources, especially if they are in a developing ecosystem like Southeast Asia, where talent is scarce and industry maturity varies.
“Build not only a product that can sell well, but a platform through which to deliver it.”– Eric Riles, The Lean Startup
How to attract and acquire potential customers?
Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares take readers through the nineteen channels they use to build a strong customer base made up of the right kind of people. Acknowledging the ‘one size does not fit all solution’, the writers offer a three step framework for readers to figure out which approach best suits their business.
Why should you read it? New companies have difficulty in finding their target group and once found, how to target them? Traction details customer acquisition channels from SEM to display ads and email marketing to uncover all the different channels that can be used to optimize growth.
“Pursue traction and product development in parallel, and spend equal time on both.” – Gabriel Weinberg & Justin Mares, Traction
How to start thinking big picture?
Granted, most people in the startup industry and beyond have already thumbed through this book by Peter Thiel, but it remains a staple for a reason.
In this book, the founder of PayPal and early investor of Facebook details how we can find singular ways to create new things. Even if you are reading it from across the globe, Thiel’s words still apply.
Why should you read it? Competition is becoming fierce in Southeast Asia, and many of the new, smaller startups will struggle to survive. The book’s first pointer is that a game-changing company means going from zero to one—from nothing to something, instead of going from something to a slightly better something
“Creative monopoly means new products that benefit everybody and sustainable profits for the creator. Competition means no profits for anybody, no meaningful differentiation, and a struggle for survival.”– Peter Thiel, Zero to One
How did the successful ecommerce giants do it?
As one of the first western employees at Alibaba, Porter Erisman became the head of international marketing from 2000-2008. Chronicling eight years of experience in one of the world’s most groundbreaking ecommerce companies, Erisman illustrates how Jack Ma came to create a company that has influenced an entire global business landscape.
Why should you read it? Jack Ma’s presence is already felt in Southeast Asia as Ma’s focus on developing economies have made several waves in the region this year, from the acquisition of Lazada to an investment into Thailand’s True Money. It would be wise to understand his strategy and reason for success.
“Jack Ma combined the best of Chinese culture and Silicon Valley spirit to create a unique company culture.” – Porter Erisman, Alibaba’s World
How to continuously evolve without losing your brand essence?
Brad Stone’s book is the first in-depth chronicle of Jeff Bezos’s everything store empire. With access to Amazon employees and Bezos’s family members, it brings outsiders one step close to understand how Amazon was built, and came to disrupt the way we shop for books and everything in between.
Why should you read it? With Amazon announcing its entry into Singapore and the introduction of its private labels, the published book in 2014 should remain a must read on every budding entrepreneur’s shelf as every company should understand how a brand can constantly evolve yet remain true to its core business.
“It is far better to cannibalize yourself than have someone else do it.” – Jeff Bezos, The Everything Store
How to anticipate failure and adjust before it’s too late
The story of how Sophia Amoruso managed to climb from ‘dumpster living’ to founding one of the fastest growing online retailers in the world is now somewhat of a bittersweet read. Having declared bankruptcy this month, Amoruso will also be stepping down from her role as Nasty Gal CEO.
Cited by critics as ‘Lean In’ for social misfits, it is an honest, relatable and somewhat quirky portrayal on how anyone with drive and grit can become a successful entrepreneur.
Why should you read it? In light of recent news covering Nasty Gal’s bankruptcy, this book serves as a healthy reminder of how quickly startups can fail. Business models need to adapt and companies need to pivot to stay afloat. This is a particularly good reminder for entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia where the landscape can be risky due to a developing market with challenges from internet connectivity and payment methods. It’s good to follow your goals and instinct, but also be realistic.
“Take care of the little things—even the little things that you hate—and treat them as promises to your own future. Soon you’ll see that fortune favors the bold.” – Sophia Amoruso, #GirlBoss