A good book can inspire us, change the way we think, and motivate us to work harder. In honor of Growth Strategy Month here at Vennli, we asked our staff to recommend their favorite books about, well, you guessed it: growth strategy.

Add some of these to your reading list to inspire some new thinking about how to grow your business!

Let’s get right down to it…

1. Value Proposition Design: How to Create Products and Services Customers Want by Osterwalder, Pigneur, Bernarda, & Smith

Value Proposition DesignThe core challenge of any business is to create compelling products and services that customers choose to buy. This practical book outlines how to design, test, create, and manage offerings that customers actually want.

I recommend this book for three reasons. First, it espouses the Lean Startup principle that you should talk to customers before you start building. Too often, development starts before getting sufficient customer requirements and validation. Second, it describes a practical approach to conducting these customer conversations. Third, it has a lot of cartoons.” John Henry, Manager of Customer Success

2. The Strategy Mindset by Chuck Bamford
The Strategy MindsetThis is a practical guide to applying battle-tested approaches to corporate strategy. It outlines well-researched but actionable tactics to increase the likelihood of business growth.

While a lot of strategic thinking may be ‘art,’ there is a lot of ‘science’ that can be learned. This book isn’t about concepts, it’s about application in the real world. It’s a ‘no bull’ approach to strategy. And it doesn’t hurt that the author has a Notre Dame connection. Go Irish!” Griffin Eaton, Business Development Manager

3. Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim
Blue Ocean StrategySustainable competitive advantage doesn’t come from battling competitors in “bloody red oceans” but from exploiting previously untapped opportunities for growth, thereby creating “blue oceans.”

Kim and Mauborgne’s work on Blue Ocean introduced an important, counter-intuitive point: by focusing on the right customer values, an organization can reinvent a value proposition and create uniqueness through both differentiation and low cost. Their framework is elegant and accessible.” Joe Urbany, Co-Founder of Vennli

4. The End of Competitive Advantage: How to Keep Your Strategy Moving as Fast as Your Business by Rita Gunther McGrath
The End of Competitive AdvantageThe way we created strategy in the past is no longer delivering the results we need to keep up with the fast-paced changes in our market. Old assumptions about strategy no longer apply. It’s no longer about creating sustainable competitive advantage, it’s about quickly capturing and exploiting growth opportunities and divesting them just as quickly when appropriate. Today’s businesses strive for transient competitive advantage.

This book isn’t about the future – it’s about now. The way most of us learned how to build strategy back in business school isn’t helping us grow our businesses today. The market has changed, customers have changed, and we need to change, too. Business need a deep understanding of their customers so that they can be decisive about where they invest (or divest) their resources.” Sara Richmond, Director of Marketing

5. The Momentum Effect: How to Ignite Exceptional Growth by J.C. Larreche
The Momentum EffectThe secret to sustainable growth is momentum. Growth feeds on itself. The trick is starting with a powerful offering that offers tremendous customer value. This book covers a framework for how to gain momentum and harness its power.

High growth rates depend on your ability to offer innovative value to customers and the marketplace. This book outlines ways to identify new sources of growth by delighting customers. To accomplish this, business leaders need to have a deep understanding of what customers value and how they make decisions.” Joe Urbany, Co-Founder of Vennli

6. Blueprint to a Billion: 7 Essentials to Achieve Exponential Growth by David Thomson
Blueprint to a BillionWhat do high growth companies do differently? This book provides a blueprint to growth based on a quantitative assessment of what 387 elite performers did to achieve their high reaching goals.

Blueprint to a Billion gave me a new perspective on the patterns all successful companies use to grow. I now use his seven essential traits whenever I evaluate a company’s growth potential.” Chris Bethell, General Manager – Healthcare Division

7. How Brands Grow: What Marketer’s Don’t Know by Byron Sharp
How Brands GrowThis book is written for marketing professionals and provides new research that questions basic “truths” about topics such as growth, advertising, customer buying behavior, and pricing. Build your own competitive advantage by changing the way you think about how to grow your brand.

Forget everything you’ve been told about marketing. Question all your assumptions and demand data! A great book for new AND well-established brands.” Sara Richmond, Director of Marketing

8. Grow by Focusing on What Matters by Joel Urbany & James Davis
Grow by Focusing on What MattersOk, we’re a little biased. This book by our co-founder Dr. Joe Urbany is what started it all for Vennli.
It’s all about focusing on the drivers of customer choice. The model maps customer feedback into three circles: the customer’s needs, what your offering provides, and what the competitor offering provides.

Growth strategy emerges from addressing four key strategy directives: 1) build and defend the unique value you create for customers; 2) correct, eliminate, or reveal value that is failing customers or of which they’re not aware; 3) potentially neutralize the unique value created for customers by competitors; 4) explore and exploit new growth opportunities by understanding customers’ unmet needs.

9. Customer Innovation: Customer-Centric Strategy for Enduring Growth by Marion Debruyne
Customer InnovationThis book outlines how create an outside-in approach to growth strategy, starting with a deep understanding of your customers and market. To stay ahead of the curve, businesses must constantly monitor changes in their market and take an honest assessment of their own capabilities compared to competitors.

Customer-centricity isn’t a new concept, but it’s a difficult one to operationalize in a fast-paced business. This book provides a good summary and lots of examples of how market-leading companies are making this happen.” Sara Richmond, Director of Marketing

10. Talking to Humans: Success Starts with Understanding Your Customers by Giff Constable
Talking To HumansEveryone knows you’re supposed to talk to customers during product development, but very few have received effective training on just how to do so. Problem solved. Here’s a useful guide about how to capture qualitative customer feedback to validate (or invalidate) any innovation.

Successful innovation and entrepreneurship depends on being able to have effective conversations with customers. This guide isn’t just for start-ups, but for any business so that they don’t waste time developing an offering that fails to provide unique value for customers.” Joe Urbany, Co-Founder of Vennli