10 best books small business owners must read
In this post we list our top 10 book recommendations for small business owners.
In this post we list our top 10 book recommendations for small business owners.
As an entrepreneur, regularly reading the best books for small business owners is an important part of organizational management. Business books promote self-education and improvement while also imparting useful skills for business management. Reading them can keep you inspired and help you create viable strategies for running and growing your company.
Whether you’ve been in business for decades or just opening shop, there’s a book out there that can inspire you to take the right steps. Guerilla Marketing, for example, is a must-read if you want to grow your business’s reach and sales. The Effective Executive, on the other hand, contains invaluable tips for proper business management. Alongside those two, we’ve compiled a list of 10 of the best books for small business owners. Let’s get right to it.
By Michael E. Gerber
The failure rate for small businesses was 90% in 2019. While some of this is down to cash flow issues, a good number of startups fail because entrepreneurs go into business filled with misconceptions and wrong advice. Combined, these things make it hard to turn an idea into a successful venture.
That’s precisely what Michael E. Gerber tackles in his book, The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It. First published in 1988, this timeless must-read was voted the #1 business book by Inc. 500 CEOs. It explains how you can leverage your skills when starting and growing a business.
Gerber breaks down the three personalities that you need to become successful in business. There’s the technician, who is an expert in the industry. The entrepreneur sees the bigger picture while the manager keeps a keen eye on the details of running a business. Balancing these three personalities is the key to growing an idea into a successful business.
By Peter Drucker
Peter Drucker’s The Effective Executive is one of three books that Jeff Bezos of Amazon made his senior managers read in an all-day book club. That pretty much makes the case for this book. Among other things, it’s packed with invaluable tips on how to adopt practical management skills and how to invest in the right things.
As a business owner, your management style will dictate the tone of your company. Your team will adapt your most prominent traits. This makes it important to integrate things like productivity, integrity, discipline and effective decision-making into your overall character. If you feel like you’re lacking in this regard, Drucker says that you can learn them. Add it to your list of must-read books and watch it shape your management style for the better.
By Simon Sinek
Why does your business exist? According to Simon Sinek, the world’s most successful companies are inspired by a sense of purpose – the why. Once you figure out why you’re venturing into business, you’ll find it easy to know the what and how. What products should you launch your company with? How do you brand it? This straightforward advice is what makes Start with Why one of the best books for entrepreneurs.
A frequent Ted Talker, Sinek teaches that creating a company for a specific purpose increases its chances of growth. And once you have a clear path for your company, you can inspire action into your team. For example, the employees at Apple are largely motivated by the opportunity to create innovative products that have the potential to change the lives of millions around the world.
By Dale Carnegie
Over 30 million copies of Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People have been sold so far, making it a bestseller in books for small business. Originally published in 1936, this time-tested classic is a must-read if you’re looking to build your people skills.
Carnegie was a prominent salesman who left his job and took up a career in public speaking. This book compiles all the helpful advice he delivered in various seminars. The book primarily teaches business owners how to change people’s minds without criticizing them and without them hating you.
This is important because positive influence is critical to good business management. It helps you develop solid relationships that are built on trust. Through these relationships, you can build a reputable company based on your personal brand while at the same time steering your entire team towards a collective goal.
By Jay Conrad Levinson
Having a hard time marketing your brand and products? Conrad Levinson’s Guerilla Marketing may be all you need to take your business from 0 to 100. It ranks highly among the best books for small business owners because it’s filled with practical, real-world marketing tips.
Levinson defies the old wives’ tale that effective marketing requires a ton of cash and resources. Instead, he explains how you can achieve the same results by being a bit crafty. For example, every interaction with someone outside of your company is a chance to market your brand and products. Rather than buying ads, use posters and banners to publicize your company.
Although Guerilla Marketing was first published in 1985, its lessons remain relevant in today’s world. You still don’t need to buy ads, whether on mainstream or social media, when you can build a solid following on social platforms.
By John Doerr
John Doerr is the legendary investor who backed Google and Amazon when they were mere startups. He is also responsible for bringing OKRs to Google, and he is using the same concept to help small business owners grow their companies.
So, what are OKRs and why should they matter? How do you measure them? These are all covered in this absolute must-read. Doerr explains that setting goals and defining results can motivate high performances while also aligning your organization.
As an entrepreneur, setting objectives is not even half the job. You also need to figure ways of achieving those objectives. This involves motivating and steering your team towards organization goals. Measure What Matters delivers plenty of tips on how to do all these. Also included are mini case studies from real companies that use OKRs.
By Tim Ferriss
If you can only pick a handful of business books to read, make sure Tools of Titans is one of them. In this book, Tim Ferriss collects and breaks down over 100 interviews with some of the most successful people from all walks of life. In addition to offering insight into their careers, Ferriss’ interviewees also furnish readers with productivity advice based on their personal experiences.
The New York Times famously labeled Tim Ferriss “a cross between Jack Welch and a Buddhist monk”. There’s nowhere where these two sides of him are more evident than in Tools of Titans. On the one hand, he outlines the habits and tools needed to shrewdly start and run a business. On the other hand, Ferriss insists that you skip any sections and interviews that don’t excite you.
The 673-page book is divided into three sections: healthy, wealthy and wise. Each section packs interviews and summaries of key lessons from those interviews.
By Ben Horowitz
Running and growing a startup is a tough job, we all know that. But what most people don’t know is the extremity of the toughness. In The hard Thing About Hard Things, Ben Horowitz is candid about the less rosy side of entrepreneurship. While you may have a good idea, executing it is a whole different thing altogether. You’ll experience challenges that even the best business schools can’t prepare you for.
The good news is that these challenges have solutions. In fact, Horowitz pinpoints the issues that you’re most likely to face as a business owner and teaches you how to deal with them. This problem-solving approach makes it one of the best books for small business owners, particularly if you’re not entirely content with your ability to find solutions to business-related issues.
By Dr. Carol Dweck
Would you say that you have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset? Someone with a fixed mindset believes that intelligence is innate – we’re born with (or without) it. A growth mindset, on the other hand, says that intelligence can be nurtured. We can improve our intellect and ourselves every day.
In her book, Mindset, Dr. Carol Dweck explains how our mindsets determine our behaviors and habits. A fixed mindset decreases self-knowledge and provokes feelings of dissatisfaction. Most individuals with fixed mindsets are usually afraid to take risks, which can be detrimental to business growth.
The good news? Adopting a growth mindset is very much possible even for people who are already set in their ways. Grab this book to discover how. And if you’re already there, Dr. Dweck explains how you can use your mindset to maximize your potential in business and other fields.
By Laurence Peter and Raymond Hull
A New York Times #1 bestseller, The Peter Principle: Why Things Always Go Wrong explores -you guessed it – why things go wrong in businesses, workplaces and societies. When building a startup, its not unusual to get to the point where you feel like you’ve hit a hurdle and can’t see a way past it. This may well be your “point of incompetence”.
But there’s a way around it. For one, you can bring in skilled employees who can lend a helping hand in growing your business. Laurence Peter proposes more ways that you can use to develop a plan for moving forward even when things are going wrong and you seem to have hit your “point of incompetence”.
With hilarious yet brilliantly true takes on business and life, this book reinforces the idea that the success of a business largely depends on the owner’s ability to find and hire the right people.