Do you have a book that’s helped you build your business? If not, and you’re looking to expand your library, we’ve created a list of great books about business for you. Find inspiration and get an actionable path to create a business and life you’ll love. A big thank you to all the contributors who’ve added their favorite books to this list.
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1. Building Social Business: The New Kind of Capitalism That Serves Humanity’s Most Pressing Needs by Muhammad Yunus.
Michelle Chirby, Kuli Kuli Communications Fellow, Kuli Kuli Foods
Founder and CEO of Kuli Kuli loves the book Building Social Business: The New Kind of Capitalism That Serves Humanity’s Most Pressing Needs by Muhammad Yunus. The book helped her crystallize her vision for the type of business that she wanted to create. She cites and re-reads it often and it continues to inspire her work withKuli Kuli.
2. The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur by Mike Michalowicz.
Sue Tenerowicz, Partner, Spell-It-Out Photos
It all about running a solid business as efficiently as possible financially. Somewhat how you are very selective onuse, when you are left with just a few sheets of toilet paper. It’s a good practical approach…and comical.
3. The Art of the Start 2.0 by Guy Kawasaki
Joe Johnson, President and CEO, Total Comfort Medical
I have read almost a hundred business books and my favorite book that personally helped me start my businesses is The Art of the Start 2.0 by Guy Kawasaki.
I like this book for two reasons:
- Guy Kawasaki is an entrepreneurial mogul with powerful advice from his vast array of experience, including his work as chief evangelist at Apple.
- His delivery of information is straight and direct. He does not waste time with fluffy statements that contain little meaning. He gets right to the point and keeps things interesting with stories and real life examples. He will teach you how to start, grow, and scale your business using the latest tactics and strategies.
As a bonus, he also has the most active social media accounts and is always posted about valuable business news and resources.
4. Smart Business, Stupid Business by Diane Kennedy
Robert Kennedy III, Business Strategist, Consultant, Speaker
A lot of business books approach things from the perspective of a single individual starting a basic side business but don’t talk about things like partnership, tax deductions or building business credit. Diane’s book is a great book from a pretty savvy CPA.
5. Street Smarts: An All-Purpose Tool Kit for Entrepreneurs by Norm Brodsky
Ben Landers, President, Blue Corona, Inc.
My must-read small business book is called Street Smarts: An All-Purpose Tool Kit for Entrepreneurs by Norm Brodsky. Brodsky’s book is one part high-level blueprint and another part tactical game plan. It’s a better MBA in a book than books titled as such.
6. Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
Ryan Farley, COO, LawnStarter
One of my favorite books that’s helped me manage my small business is Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, the founders of 37 Signals. The book gave me a better understanding on how to properly scale a software business. While our online platform operates a little differently than the 37 Signals team’s does, I was able to apply a lot of the ideals
that they laid out into the build out of our own team and growth strategy.
7. The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau
Joshua Sim, Creative Head, RationalComics
My favorite small business book is The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau.
The reason is that this book gives hope to “solopreneurs” like myself. The book gives instruction for solopreneurs and also gives example of successful solopreneurs.
8. Start With Why by Simon Sinek
Yvonne Lyngaas, Monarch & Company
I recommend this to small business owners to keep perspective about why they get out of bed everyday. It talks about your vision and gives great examples of how successful companies communicate and how it is different than other less successful companies. Starting with why is a concept that if done correctly can be very effective in driving sales and employee engagement. It also empowers people to challenge their industry’s status quo – one of my personal favorites.
9. 12 Healthy Habits of Business Leadership: The Power of Investing in Yourself by Anna Campbell
Bobbie Asad, Mad Hatter
My favorite business book (which I refer back to quite often) is 12 Healthy Habits of Business Leadership: The Power of Investing in Yourself by Anna Campbell.
The author had me at the very first chapter with Keep Your Head in the Game. Lots of great advice in this book, along with encouragement and inspiration.
10. Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday
Sadot, Musician/Co-founder, Thrift Soul LLC
Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday has been tremendous for our company. It teaches you how to maximize your business or product to achieve virality without a million dollar marketing budget.
11. Design is a Job by Mike Monteiro
Sophia Lemon, Photography for Ridiculously Happy People
Here’s my favourite small business book: Design is a Job by Mike Monteiro.
While it is directed toward designers, I’ve found it very useful as a photographer and I’m sure many other small business owners will find it useful as well. It addresses some important but difficult topics for entrepreneurs like contracts and getting paid for your work. And it is funny!
12. Built To Sell by John Warrillow
Patrick Geren, Squirrel Books
My favorite book is Built To Sell by John Warrillow.
It has helped us build our company in a way that we become more than just self employed. It helps me keep perspective on what’s most important while building for success.
13. The E-Myth by Michael Gerber
Ryan Turner, Founder, Referral Rocket
The one book I’d recommend to small business owners is The E-Myth by Michael Gerber. It has been a huge help to us when systemizing our processes – everything from client onboarding to monthly marketing promotions. For any business owner who wants to spend more time working *on *their business and growing it, rather than being consumed in the day-to-day operations, you really can’t beat this book.
14. Let Your Creativity Work for You: How to Turn Artwork into Opportunity by Heather Allen
Laken Geiger, Public Relations Practitioner
I would highly suggest Heather Allen’s Let Your Creativity Work for You: How to Turn Artwork into Opportunity.
In her book- which she encourages readers to write in and process ideas, Heather shows how: to find their own strengths and weaknesses, create systems that make the business-side more manageable and give measurable targets to aim for, position offerings for the markets that will support economic livelihoods, set boundaries and principles meant to keep one grounded, curate experiences for consumers and craft a brand around that experience, to establish structures that allow creativity and routine in business that rejuvenates each other.
After reading her book I have been able to: expand my fan base and sales opportunities, scale my revenue and operations, form new and strategic partnerships and create a brand that earns and elevates. I would recommend her book to any solo-preneur wishing to develop.
15. Bootstrap: Lessons Learned Building a Successful Company from Scratch by Kenneth L. Hess.
Daniel Rolnik, Art Critic and Creator, Daniel Rolnik Gallery
Bootstrap: Lessons Learned Building a Successful Company from Scratch by Kenneth L. Hess.
Brief Reason: I went to a tiny college in the Bay Area of California. A school so small, that no one had heard of it besides the students. So I reached out to other schools to try and build up a consortium to be able to access resources. Through that process I met a lot of disgruntled professors and academics – as well as some great ones too – but they seemed to always be doubtful of the higher-ups at each university agreeing to an actual quote-on-quote consortium. One of the grump-grumps recommended reading Bootstrap by Kenneth L. Hess and then starting my own company to try and achieve my goals, rather than waiting for the acceptance of upper academic management. I ordered a copy on Amazon used and a few days later the book. with its ugly cover, arrived and changed my life. It’s boring, great, and dull – but got me ready to start my own business!
16. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Bryce Liggins, Senior Marketing Strategist, Brolik
I highly recommend How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Not to read just one time, but to be read annually. There is nothing new or ground breaking in it, but it serves as a fantastic reminder of how we should communicate and interact with people both in and out of business. It’s amazing how easy it is to forget to give since appreciation or to become genuinely interested in other people. When things like this are front of mind you’ll catch yourself abiding by them more often and you’ll be shocked to see how much of a difference they can make.
17. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t by Jim Collins
Jeff Oddo, President, http://www.gocitywide.com
Collins’ book addresses a single question: ‘can a good company become a great company, and if so, how?’ Based on five years of research comparing teams that made the leap to those that did not, Collins found that greatness was really a function of choice and discipline, not something that happened because of circumstances. I’ve taken that lesson to heart and have applied it to both my roles as President of my company and Co-CEO of my family.
18. Rich Dad’s Cashflow Quadrant: Rich Dad’s Guide to Financial Freedom by Robert Kiyosaki
D. Anthony Miles, CEO and Founder, Miles Development Industries Corporation
One of the most influential books that made me want to be an entrepreneur is Rich Dad’s Cashflow Quadrant: Rich Dad’s Guide to Financial Freedom by Robert Kiyosaki. This book was such a major influence in me starting my own business.
First, it made me want to start my own business because it illustrated four different types of business ventures and why most of them are a success or failure.
Second, the book helped me look at business structures and business models. It showed me what type of business models to avoid and how I can make my business profitable. I have used this to help with my clients and to assist them with their business models. I cannot recommend this book enough. It should be required reading in colleges and universities. The four types of business structures will determine your business success or failure.
19. Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is about Help not Hype by Jay Baer
Krystal B. Hart, Freelance Writer and Communications Consultant, Sparrow Communications
My favorite book about small business is Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is about Help not Hype by Jay Baer. This book helped solidify my commitment to customer service and encouraged me to open my own business where I could practice these principles. I attract clients by providing content and conversation that is beneficial to them. It is the foundation of my business practice and has made my career more enjoyable by witnessing the reaction of people who are grateful for the youtility approach.
20. High Probability Selling by Jacques Werth
Alan N. Canton, Managing Partner, NewMedia Create
There are a zillion books on business but the only ones that really ‘matter’ are the ones that get you customers or clients… and usually that means books that teach you how to sell and market.
My favorite is called High Probability Selling by Jacques Werth.
This book is what has enabled our web design business to grow and which helped us get over our fear of direct marketing. I think it is a ‘must read’ for all businesses, whether they be start-ups for more mature like us.
21. Remote: Office Not Required by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
Simon Slade, CEO & Co-founder, Affilorama
Remote: Office Not Required by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson greatly broadened my perspective of telecommuting. It analyzes the challenges and surprising benefits of operating with a remote workforce so that after reading it, I felt prepared and comfortable with the notion of allowing employees to telecommute. *Remote* even recommends how to implement the new employment arrangement. Today, 24 of my 29 staff members work remotely. They report higher job satisfaction, and I get to hire the best in the industry without concern for geographical limitations.
22. Do the Work by Steven Pressfield
Daniel DiGriz, VP of Marketing, Free Agent Source
Do the Work by Steven Pressfield has been monumental. The author’s premise is that resistance is a ‘thing’; it’s predictable, formidable, and continual, but it can be overcome. At Free Agent Source, we’re a fast-moving startup with well-known clients and a focus on execution; we
expect barriers, obstacles, and challenges to our desired outcomes, both for clients and the growth of our company. Tossing dog-eared references to Do the Work back and forth around the virtual office has helped us be stalwart and formidable ourselves; we’ve learned to insist that resistance to any goal can be overcome.
23. Brand like a rock star by Steve Jones
Craig Wolfe, President, CelebriDucks
Best book: Brand like a rock star by Steve Jones. Good book!
24. The Pocket Small Business Owner’s Guide to Business Plans by Brian Hill and Dee Power
Easy to read, no MBA jargon, down to earth, easy to follow instructions, authors have a sense of humor: The Pocket Small Business Owner’s Guide to Business Plans by Brian Hill and Dee Power.
Yes, I’m one of the authors. LOL
25. Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi
Hao Jiang, Co-founder, CookieCutterKingdom
Keith Ferrazzi’s Never Eat Alone has always stuck with me. Maybe it’s the catchy title, but, in essence, it talks about the power of building real relationships and starting conversations. Talking to 10 people about your business and getting 10 different perspectives is so much more powerful than hiding away an idea in secret.
It’s Your Turn
Is your favorite book missing from this list? Let us know in the comments below! We’d love to hear from you.
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