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  • Writer's pictureWhitney Kippes

Five Great Books for Business Development

Updated: Jul 15, 2022

Many folks seem to fall into careers in business development in the international development sector. But building that expertise requires a special kind of education.

Because there can be so many different resources, I want to highlight five of my favorites that will be the most practical assets that you won't just sit on a shelf somewhere.

Compile a list of books that have helped you in your business journey.

1. Shipley Proposal Guide

There is literally nothing like it out there, so I'd be remiss in suggesting anything else to anyone who works regularly on proposals. You don't have to attend a Shipley training to get the workbook! Broken down into really brief sections, the guide breaks down common challenges and best practices for proposal management and writing that can be a resource for anyone.

2. Made to Stick, by Chip Heath & Dan Heath

Dipping your toe into business development means dipping your toe into the world of marketing. And no guide to marketing resources would be complete without Made to Stick. This very readable resource helps understand the narratives that stick in our minds - from powerful advertising to urban legends. These are all great lessons for compelling proposals.

3. Business Model Generation, by Alexander Osterwalder

A core piece of proposal development is creating a compelling connection between problems and solutions, and nothing explains how to break this down quite as well as building a business model canvas. Take inspiration from how to create value for customers to understand how to create value for your donors and beneficiaries.

4. Real World Evaluation, by Michael Bamberger

No business development professional needs to be an expert in program monitoring and evaluation, but you do need a basic understanding of what is valuable for that side of the proposal development process. This is a straightforward resource that can be referenced quickly if you're at a loss on terminology.

5. Influence: the Psychology of Persuasion, by Robert Cialdini

Coming out of academic programs, it can be hard to make both the mindset and writing switch away from exposition and toward persuasion. Reading about how persuasion works can help you understand the science behind what helps people understand and compels people to follow up. It's sales 101 for non-sales people!

What books do you come back to and recommend to colleagues?

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