Andrew Elliott, Founder of GoDesignerGo: Book Recommendations for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
GoDesignerGo was built for businesses who either need to supplement their current graphic design team or, in case of smaller companies, need on-demand graphic design help but don’t afford or need an on-staff designer or agency. Companies from all over the world now use it, from large 7-figure companies to small mom-and-pop stores. It’s affordable and easy to use.
Before going full time on GoDesignerGo, Andrew worked as a graphic designer and automotive journalist. While he appreciated the opportunity to drive some amazing cars and work on great projects, for companies both small and big, the goal of building his own business has always been on his mind.
GoDesignerGo was born out of a need that Andrew saw during his work in the industry. However, because of his fears, two years passed from the moment he first had the idea for the company to the minute he hit “Publish” and launched the first version of the website.
Keep on reading to find out more about the books that had the biggest impact on him and the ones he recommends to anyone interested in starting their own business.
What’s your favorite book and why? Business and non-business, if possible.
My favorite business book has got to be Rework by the guys at Basecamp (formerly 37Signals). The book is authored by David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried, who modified many of their essays from their popular blog, Signal v. Noise into a thought-provoking look into a new way to conduct business.
I was originally introduced to the book after interviewing David for an article I was conducting on his motor racing aspirations (I used to be an automotive journalist in a past life). Since then, it has become one of my favorite books due to the approach that was taken in demonstrating their ideas as well as their interesting take on the modern business/office environment.
In terms of non-business books, my choice has got to be Sahara by Clive Cussler. I like it mostly for the fact that it is nothing more than a fun, wild adventure. And, frankly, sometimes a book that provides nothing more than pure fantastical escapism is exactly what the doctor ordered.
Was there a moment, specifically, when something you read in a book helped you? Can you tell me about it?
When I was younger, my mother used to consistently take me to the local library to check out a handful of books for me to read. I look back fondly on these trips and I have come to realize that rather than one particular book or passage, it was this early indoctrination that has really helped shape my interest in reading. By starting from an early age I came to enjoy reading, much unlike many of my peers throughout school.
So while this doesn’t necessarily answer the question directly, I think learning to enjoy reading has been the biggest help in my life.
What books had the biggest impact on you? (perhaps changed the way you see things, dramatically changed your career path)
Here is a quick list (in no particular order) of the books that have had the biggest impact, one way or another:
1. Rework – David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried
A fresh, interesting take on the business world. Cuts straight to the point.
2. Crush it! – Gary Vaynerchuk
Love his writing style and over-the-top enthusiasm for everything.
3. Trust me, I’m lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator – Ryan Holiday
As a former automotive blogger/journalist this was an interesting read considering this kind of stuff was seen by myself and my coworkers on a daily basis.
4. How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie
The classic! Really enjoyed his writing style and provided an interesting perspective on expanding business and personal relationships.
What books would you recommend to youngsters interested in your professional path? Why? (no number limit here)
For someone interested in starting their own business, I would suggest the following books (although if you’re partial to blog posts, podcasts or something else, those will work too!):
1. If you have no understanding of accounting, read a good accounting book. A good example would be The Accounting Game by Darrell Mullis.
2. For tech startups, I would always suggest reading The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. It’s a good start for someone interested in learning a few tactics to minimize startup costs when starting their company.
3. A time management book. Personally, I like Manage your day-to-day by 99U. It is an extremely quick read, but provides some good insights for those who need some basic guidance regarding time management, especially in creative fields.
4. A book that will help you manage stress, setbacks and positivity. I recommend What to Say When You Talk to Your Self by Shad Helmstetter. Starting your own business is a path fraught with stress and setbacks, learning how to successfully navigate these issues will help you in more than just business.
5. Finally, a fun book! Personally my go-to fun book is Sahara by Clive Cussler. But, honestly, any fun fiction book will do (or even non-fiction!).
I’m interested in finding out more about your reading habits. How often do you read? In what format?
I try and read for at least 20 minutes per night before bed. Recently, however, I have been trying to read 15 minutes during my lunch break on particularly stressful days. It helps me come back to the work day with a refreshed, clear mind.
The format varies, although recently I have become more partial to physical books. I also have a Kindle Paperwhite that I use when I travel or when the digital version of a book is considerably less expensive than a physical copy.
How do you make time for reading?
For me, there are two main ways I make time for reading. First, make it a habit. Consistently reading over a period of a couple weeks will help ingrain the habit into your daily routine. Second, pick books that you are actually interested in. So often I will have friends who are founders complain about not liking reading. The reason? They usually pick books that they have zero interest in!
Do you take notes or have any other technique for conquering the torrent of information?
I don’t always take notes, but when I do I usually use a highlighter to mark interesting passages or sentences and small Post-It notes to mark pages or chapters that are of particular interest.
How do you choose what books to read next?
I have a running Amazon wish list that I add books to whenever I hear of them. This alleviates the issue of choice and keeps my reading habit consistent. I don’t have to think of what to order next, I just order the next book in the wish list – thank you Amazon Prime!
Do you prioritize those recommended by certain people? Is there anyone that you consider a book-recommendations guru?
I like to read multiple reviews/opinions for any book that I am going to read. So generally speaking, no I don’t prioritize books recommended by certain people. I generally like to browse Bill Gates’s yearly reading list, but other than that I don’t necessarily follow any one person for book reviews.
Last question: what book are you currently reading and what are you expecting to gain from it?
I am currently reading The Gunslinger by Stephen King. I try to intersperse recreational, fun reading into my book queue and this is one of those books! I have only just started it, but it is a good read so far!
Links where you can follow Andrew Elliott or find out more about his projects:
All books mentioned by Andrew Elliott in this interview:
- Rework by Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson
- Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion by Gary Vaynerchuk
- Trust Me, I’m Lying – Confessions of a Media Manipulator by Ryan Holiday
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
- The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
- Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind (The 99U Book Series) by 99U
- What to Say When You Talk to Your Self by Shad Helmstetter
- The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower I) by Stephen King
- The Accounting Game: Basic Accounting Fresh from the Lemonade Stand by Darrell Mullis, Judith Orloff
- Sahara by Clive Cussler