It’s hard to write a book. And yet, perusing the shelves and having a look at the books making waves and wreaking havoc in people’s psyches, it is perhaps still a little too easy. Any ole person can take any ole angle, slap it across a few pages, season it with some nonsense terms like ‘innovation’ and ‘disruption’ – and convince enough intellectually ravenous entrepreneurs and business people to part with their hard earned cash to buy it.

Truth be told, the more you read, the more of a problem this becomes. There are tons of useless books. There are even tons of good books that are good, but could have been memes.

Every so often, you stumble across books that deliver. As in, really deliver.

These types of books, few and far in between, nevertheless come in all shapes and sizes. Imagine my surprise to find not one, but two of them, in the Popular Business, Pop Psych and Pop Biz category. That surprised me, the popularity and utility of broad audience books being inversely proportionate so very often.

If you are a regular reader. both Clockwork and Profit First are USEFUL – that is, they can be applied more than most business books can be applied in the real world. If you don’t read a lot, I’d suggest you place these books as number one and number two on your list.

First things first: I don’t know Michalowicz. I don’t write reviews for money. I don’t earn commissions and I don’t make money from my recommendations. These books are being written about on this blog because I personally found them genuinely useful – and I like sharing the best with my readers. That’s it.

Everything in business is either Time or Money, or both. Clockwork deals with Time, and Profit First with Money. Each of the books approach their subject matters from a single, simple angle… which Michalowicz expresses as ‘Parkinson’s Law’: Our consumption of a resource expands to meet its supply. Simply put – if it’s there you’ll use it. If there’s money lying around, it won’t be idle for long. Same thing with time. If it’s there we’ll use it, and that is why we often end up with nothing of either.

In either case, Michalowicz proposes a deceptively simple solve. Deliberately allocate resources so that the most important things are taken care of first.

In Profit First, this takes the very simple personal finance principle of ‘pay yourself first’ and applies it to your business. How is it possible that you work so hard and yet the business isn’t profitable? Well, because money that is there is money that will be used. So simply allocate a percentage of any money that comes in to PROFIT, and then learn to live on the rest. Simple trick – but big impact. Your business is automatically profitable from the very first transaction. It stays profitable with every subsequent transaction.

Michalowicz breaks down all kinds of useful tips, tools and techniques in Profit First – making the accounting speak entrepreneur instead of the other way around. As a guide for a small business owner, or a principle for life, Profit First is an exceptional book that everybody should read, and apply.

He does the exact same trick, but applied to time, in Clockwork. You work hard, you do more in less time, and yet you never feel like you get ahead. The more you do in less time, the more there is for you to do. Your idea of running your own business to have a better life turns into sacrificing having a life in order to run a business. Its all about productivity and time management, and being left with no time at all because, again, if it’s there, we’ll spend it.

In Clockwork, Michalowicz does something so brave I’ve never seen it done before. He sets up a test for his theories. Can you take a month away from your business – and it will still run perfectly? Can you actually take a stress free month away from your business? At the end of the book, he challenges you to do just that. And applying his principles to time management as you did with money, you actually could.

You can pick up really neat tricks, and techniques and tips even in bad books. Some really popular books aren’t worth the paper they are printed on. Every now and again, you find books so fundamentally useful that they should be foundational. Both of these books fall into that category, and I strongly recommend them for anyone interested in time and money.