Finance Industry

A Reading List for the Modern CFO

Whether you’re the CFO sitting comfortably in a corner office or just starting your finance career, continual education is critical to progress. Here are some books, blogs, and news sources that you can turn to for meaningful insights, trends, and industry news:

Books

The Balanced Scorecard

Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton

The Balanced Scorecard provides detailed steps on bringing strategies to market. Developing a comprehensive business strategy in the boardroom is one thing, but it’s another to put your strategy into action and tie it to real performance measures. The Balanced Scorecard bridges this gap by explaining how to take the information from the front lines of business and drive growth through practical application. The authors present four perspectives: financial measures, customer knowledge, internal business processes, and learning and growth.

Strategy Rules: Five Timeless Lessons from Bill Gates, Andy Grove, and Steve Jobs

David B. Yoffie and Michael A. Cusumano

The authors of Strategy Rules observed three of the most successful entrepreneurs in the history of business—Bill Gates (Microsoft), Andy Grove (Intel), and Steve Jobs (Apple)—to gain insight into how they built their empires. You’ll see where they succeeded, where they failed, and how you can apply these lessons in your own ventures. Taking a page from the book (pun intended, sorry) of these three innovators is especially relevant given the increasingly technological world in which we live.

Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable

Seth Godin

In Purple Cow, business writer Seth Godin lays out how you can (and must) become an innovator to make waves in a crowded marketing environment. “Be Remarkable” is the book’s mantra, which plays out in describing how the world’s most successful companies—Starbucks, IKEA, and Google, to name a few—build their brands on remarkable products that generate word-of-mouth conversations, as opposed to relying on huge advertising budgets. Customer needs and expectations are always evolving. Purple Cow underlines the key factors driving these changes and presents ways to navigate your business through them.

The Hard Thing About Hard Things

Ben Horowitz

There is no such thing as a perfect business model, and things inevitably go wrong some of the time. Knowing how to prepare for and recover from business disasters can determine the success of your venture. The Hard Thing About Hard Things focuses on this aspect of business, presenting strategies to negotiate business cycles, reframe problems, identify strengths and weaknesses within your organization, and embrace the struggle to succeed.   

The Granularity of Growth

Patrick Viguerie, Sven Smit, and Mehrdad Baghai

All leaders want to achieve business growth, but what exactly is needed to reach this goal? The Granularity of Growth identifies the factors that feed and sustain growth over time. Understanding how to exceed competing sources of capital and discovering ways to work smarter instead of harder is critical in today’s globally competitive business environment where failure to grow almost always means falling behind.

High Growth Handbook

Elad Gil

In High Growth Handbook, long-time technology executive Elad Gil lays out what it takes to go from startup to tech giant. Drawing on lessons he learned from working with companies like Airbnb, Twitter, Google, and Coinbase, Gil provides first-hand knowledge on building your executive team, navigating complex challenges, and taking a company public. The book features interviews with several Silicon Valley pioneers and business leaders, and has been described as “the playbook for turning a startup into a unicorn.”

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Blogs

CFO University

CFO University is an online professional network that brings together finance executives from a diverse array of organizations. The core curriculum focuses on four pillars of executive expertise: finance, accounting, treasury, and leadership. CFO University offers course work under each pillar, as well as podcasts and “Ed Talks” featuring insights from leading executives across the finance industry.

SaaStr

Started as a simple WordPress blog, SaaStr is one of the foremost communities for entrepreneurs and business executives in the tech world. The online SaaStr Academy features insights from industry experts on the trends and milestones that are shaping the business world. It all culminates at the yearly SaaStr Annual conference, which brings together more than 12,000 attendees and is the largest non-vendor business event in the world.

CFO Thought Leader

Created by career business journalist and former Editor-In-Chief of Business Finance Magazine Jack Sweeney, CFO Thought Leader is a web blog for current or aspiring finance executives. The outlet presents information in a variety of formats, from articles to podcasts, and 45-minute episodes on various finance and leadership topics to “60-second insights” designed to offer thoughts and strategies in a quick-hitter format.

The SaaS CFO

Software companies encounter unique challenges and opportunities, and The SaaS CFO is geared toward executives in this industry. Using proven methods and models, The SaaS CFO provides lessons in startup success, maximizing revenue, keying in on the right metrics, and building a software organization from the ground up.

For Entrepreneurs

David Skok’s For Entrepreneurs was voted the number one website for entrepreneurs by Inc. and number two by Forbes. A serial entrepreneur turned venture capitalist, Skok focuses his content on the needs of growing companies, though For Entrepreneurs can provide value to any business looking to grow or sustain a competitive advantage. Articles cover hyper-focused topics like sales funnel design, as well as broader subjects such as startup FAQs.

News

Barron’s

Founded in 1921, Barron’s is one of the most storied financial newspapers in the US. The weekly publication covers topics including market outlook, industry trends, and forecasts. Business insiders continue to rely Barron’s to stay up to date of differing economic landscapes and make timely investment decisions.

Financial Times

Financial Times is an industry epicenter for market data and business outlooks. Internationally-acclaimed and headquartered in London, Financial Times contains opinion articles, career development insights, and even style and travel-focused topics. What’s unique about Financial Times is its all-encompassing approach to business that goes beyond raw numbers and economics jargon.

National Venture Capital Association (NVCA)

Coined as the “voice of the US venture capital and startup community,” NVCA advocates for policies favorable to business-minded groups and individuals. Its resources include industry data, practical lessons, community initiatives, and networking hubs to strengthen and educate its community with the ultimate goal of driving future generations of business. Technology, healthcare, tax laws, energy, and accounting standards are just a few of the topics covered in NVCA’s news and information center.

Financial Management Magazine (FM)

Financial Management Magazine features articles about leadership, finance, strategy, and technology. The publication is printed six times per year, and each issue is packed with information about building an advanced financial proficiency and streamlining business operations. In addition, Financial Management has its own podcast that covers topics like how technology has expanded a CFO’s responsibilities and qualities of historically legendary leaders.