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A good business book is a must-have for any practice

[THIS WEEK] A well-designed business book can be a real boon, writes James Pallister

In its enthusiasm to do the opposite, the world of business books tends toward the uninspiring. At one end there’s the tasteless covers of the high-fiving positive-thinking brigade from across the Atlantic, at the other more design-savvy books, which take a jazzy cover, one word concrete noun for a title and churn out 360 pages and the promise of how to excel. Yet, for all those which besmirch the genre, the well-written, concise and well-designed business book can be a real boon, whether it’s to learn about a well-known business’ early days, hear the howlers or get the finer points of a particular strategy.

When I recently edited an AJ Editions monograph for Darling Associates, this scarcity of concise and well-designed business advice came to mind. Having founded and seen the rapid expansion, contraction and then further expansion of his practice, it soon emerged that founder Chris Darling had many pithy tips for would-be company founders. The points were useful and his copy compelling so we incorporated these into the book, working with James Graham to illustrate them in an - we hope - absorbing way. The monograph is online - architects considering setting up on their own should take a look.

Another useful book worth getting is Creative England’s One Thing I Know. This is aimed at ad agencies, but its short first-person texts from people who’ve made it are as relevant to architects. The book’s sections take the reader through starting up, strategy, marketing, growth, financials and - lots of this - dealing with clients. And for start-ups or existing practices who want to be careful of their outgoings, as every diligent start-up should be, rest easy - both are free.


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