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Top 5 Must Read Japanese Business Books Essential for Entrepreneurs
Apr 04, 2024
10 min read
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If you are a Japanese entrepreneur or business owner, you know more than anyone that there is so much to learn to grow your business. Reading business books is one of the many ways to learn and grow as a person and a professional. Out of the countless available resources and books out there, we will feature our top five must-read Japanese business books, including some books originally in English and translated to Japanese!

Japanese Business Books Top Picks!

The Mind of The Strategist: The Art of Japanese Business by Kenichi Ohmae

Identifying the need of the customers, overcoming the competition, and evaluating the company's strengths are just some of the crucial topics this book discusses. It serves as a guide on the strategic planning techniques of Japanese business executives.

The book will inspire readers to nurture the creative mind and think like a strategist, identifying a set of tactics or mapping out the blueprint in making a strategic business plan.

The book talks about how this business strategy is practiced in actual companies. There are real-life examples of how strategists implemented dynamic strategies and the fundamental principles of strategic planning to contribute to their companies' progress in Japan. The book also focuses on these three factors – company, customers, and competition.

The book is a must-read not only by Japanese executives but of all members of an organization engaged in business. Strategic planning with creative thinking is different from the usual business planning most companies nowadays are used to practicing.

If you want to gain insights into identifying the key factors of business success, your edge over your competition's weakness, and how to implement aggressive moves to challenge the norms and maximize your company's strengths, this book is for you.

The book serves as an eye-opener to entrepreneurs who, as well as brands and businesses, need to be reminded of how creative and strategic thinking in our daily lives is as helpful in our companies.

The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi

Musashi was an undefeated Samurai warrior, and he wrote the Book of Five Rings in 1643. The book talks about the ethical and spiritual aspects of the Samurai warrior tradition and how not to be defeated by your enemy. Still, many Japanese considers this book a timeless resource for psychological insights on the strategy many businesses can apply to outsmart the competition.

The five rings the book refers to the Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, and Void and how these are applied and described as strategies of the samurai in combat. It's a fascinating take on each element. It will make you realize that in life, winning is not only about technique; it's also about your inner peace, about developing intuition and a deep understanding of things, among others.

When I asked most of my Japanese friends who have their start-up businesses to give me book recommendations, five of them suggested this book. It was quite a surprise to me because these Japanese business people are from different industries, and yet all of them have encountered and have recommended this book.

The book was written over three centuries ago, imagine that! The author was only 13 years old when he penned the book, and he talked about how to hold a sword and attack an enemy, yet the book remains a timeless source of motivation and knowledge by Japanese business people. Readers will learn how to apply the subtle arts of confrontation and winning to daily life and in business.

Many Japanese business people put so much value into this book, as there is plenty of wisdom. It may be hard for some to directly relate the literal discussion in this book to its relation to business. Nevertheless, it's a must-read book for budding Japanese entrepreneurs. It is a book that you should keep on your bookshelf.

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (Japanese Edition) by Daniel H. Pink

We are all driven by something. What motivates you to do your tasks? What drives you to wake up every day and go to work? What fuels your inner fire to achieve things? What do you think motivates other people?

This must-read book in Japanese talks about the elements that motivate people - "the desire to direct our own lives, the urge to get better at something that matters, and the yearning to do in the service of something bigger than ourselves."

It's an insightful and enlightening book that will inspire business leaders to conquer challenges and focus on what really motivates everyone - autonomy, mastery, and purpose. When employees have these, Pink said they would be willing to work hard for the company. It is not really about the money, most of the time, contrary to what most people believe.

The Importance of Reading Business Books

Today's most influential leaders always find time to read a book. Did you know that Warren Buffet, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, among other successful investors, founders, and business leaders, dedicate at least three hours to read and devour at least 50 books a year? If they can find time for reading, why can't you?

Reading is a form of discipline, and when you are really dedicated to learning more, reading is a commitment. Reading must-read Japanese books is one way to know the fast-paced changes and development in Japan's business landscape. Businesses across industries are changing with Japan's technological advancement, and reading helps you keep up with the new business models, digital marketing strategy, and advertising trends.

Reading must-read business books will also help you generate essential ideas for starting a business or improving a business. Reading self-help business books and biographies will teach you business skills and the best business practices you can apply in your own company. Remember that a successful business leader is a constant learner and a better thinker, too.

Most business leaders are prone to stress like everyone else. Aside from mental stimulation, reading also helps lower stress levels. Reading relieves your mind of anxiety and pressures of your business or work. When you read, you also allow yourself to relax and take a deep breath.

Reading is a good habit, especially for entrepreneurs and business leaders. It is a habit that needs to be cultivated, as well.

How to Start a Good Habit of Reading Business Books

Even if you are not a bookworm, that's fine! But as an entrepreneur who should always be on top of your game, you must still develop a good reading habit and start your reading routine. Here are some of the things you can do.

⑴ Set a time for reading

You can dedicate an hour before breakfast, during lunch break, or before bedtime every day. If an hour of reading is already too long for you, you can start with reading for 10-30 minutes. Make a deal with yourself that you will read as many pages as you can within your dedicated time for reading.

⑵ Keep a list of books to read

You can write them down on your post-it, on your Notes, or in your journal. List down the books you are planning to read within the month. It's also one way to keep track of your reading progress. Having a list will also motivate you to keep reading to finish one and proceed to the next one on your list.

⑶ Find your reading nook

We all have different preferences when we want to be with ourselves and our book. Find your quiet nook where you can be reading undisturbed. As much as possible, turn off your computer or your mobile phone to avoid distractions, unless, of course, you need to have them turned on for urgent notifications. You can do it on a sofa, in the backyard, in your attic, or maybe in a cozy cafe.

⑷ Always bring a book with you

Wherever you go, make sure to carry with you your must-read book. There will be times when you will have to wait; maybe for your next train or your food, or your change; then you can read your book while reading.

⑸ You can write short book reviews

You can write a brief review of the book or write your takeaway from the books. When reading biographies of successful entrepreneurs, you can note down some quotable and inspiring quotes from the book.

⑹ Find good books

Find time to visit bookstores and book shops to find some old or new business books. You can also join book clubs online and be updated on what good books other people are reading. I recommend joining the World Economic Forum Book Club, where members share good book recommendations. You can also ask for advice from your colleagues.

⑺ Set a reading goal

I should have started with this one, but I guess sometimes we save the best for last. If you want to create a good reading habit, it will help if you set goals. For instance, you will target to read 25 must-read business books in Japanese, ten must-read business books in English in a year. You can also start with reading at least four books a month or a book a week. It is all up to you, what you want to achieve, and how you want to achieve it.

Remember that reading is supposed to be an enjoyable habit, so don't pressure yourself too much. Remind yourself that you are doing it not because you have to but because you need to. As a business leader, you must always be hungry for learning new things.

Reading Japanese Business Books is Essential to Understanding the Market

The Japanese must-read business books we have listed above are just a few of the many must-read books out there. These are also among the recommendations we got when we asked some young entrepreneurs we know. We hope you will find time to check on these books yourself. You can also share your reading list.

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