10 Books Every Small Business Owner Should Read

Small business owners and entrepreneurs should get their brains in shape just like professional athletes mold their bodies into lean mean performance machines. Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People, likened the human brain to a saw. He said we need to continually sharpen that saw in order to get the best performance out of it day after day.

The best way I know to keep my brain healthy is by reading. So, I’ve provided a list of my top 10 favorite books every small business owner should read. For even more brain boosters, check out my extended list of must reads for business owners.

1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

21 Best Business Books To Make You More Successful: 7 Habits of Highly Effective PeopleAuthor: Stephen R. Covey

Summary

Stephen Covey, an internationally respected leadership authority, realizes that true success encompasses a balance of personal and professional effectiveness, so this book is a manual for performing better in both arenas. His anecdotes are as frequently from family situations as from business challenges.

Biggest Takeaway

My biggest takeaway from Covey’s timeless masterpiece is the concept of beginning with the end in mind. My mind is very formulaic. I need structure to what I do, to everything I create.

Learning to Begin with the end in mind for every project I take on as a small business owner has helped me get started on projects with which I was previously paralyzed by doubt. Now that I can visualize what the outcome should look like, it’s empowering me to dream bigger and act on those dreams.

Favorite Quote

 

2. Rich Dad Poor Dad

Author: Robert T. Kiyosaki

Summary

Rich Dad Poor Dad, the #1 Personal Finance book of all time, tells the story of Robert Kiyosaki and his two dads—his real father and the father of his best friend, his rich dad—and the ways in which both men shaped his thoughts about money and investing. The book explodes the myth that you need to earn a high income to be rich and explains the difference between working for money and having your money work for you.

Biggest Takeaway

The most important thing I learned from this book that I still use today is the concept of the “Three Piggybanks”. Kiyosaki stresses the importance of putting all money you make (aside from what you need to pay the bills) into three categories:

  1. Savings
  2. Investing
  3. Tithing

As a small business owner, this savings method can help you actively sock away money for those “big dream” items you once thought were unattainable. I have begun teaching my own children this same concept. What’s surprised me most is how excited they get about giving their “tithing” money to help those in need. I think you can never learn this lesson too early.

This is absolutely one of the best business books to read for anyone who wants to work smarter, not harder.

Favorite Quote

 

3. Speak and Get Results

Author: Sandy Linver

Summary

We’ve all known the “naturals”– people who can get up to speak in any business situation and make something happen. They get the budget approved, win the big account, get the group’s support at the weekly staff meeting. When the “naturals” finish speaking people believe– and act. Now fully revised and updated, “Speak and Get Results” helps you to be a natural– helps you to get the results you want.

Biggest Takeaway

I’m big on systems and processes. Maybe it’s my German heritage. You know, engineering and efficiencies. Linver does a superb job breaking down the science of designing a speech or presentation that will get your audience to take exactly the actions you want them to take when you’re through.

There’s an actual formula for this in the book that every small business owner can use as a template for your next sales meeting, client proposal, or whatever you’re talking about where you want actionable results to occur in your company. In my opinion, this is one of the best books on business speaking available.

Favorite Quote

 

4. Crush It!

Author: Gary Vaynerchuk

Summary

Do you have a hobby you wish you could do all day? An obsession that keeps you up at night? Now is the perfect time to take those passions and make a living doing what you love. In CRUSH IT! Why NOW Is The Time To Cash In On Your Passion, Gary Vaynerchuk shows you how to use the power of the Internet to turn your real interests into real businesses.

Biggest Takeaway

The biggest thing I took away from this book is how crucial it is for every small business owner to create a personal brand. People buy from people, not companies. Gary goes into great detail explaining the why and the how of creating irresistible personal brands. This is by far one of the best books for business owners who want to translate their offline sales into online sales.

Favorite Quote

 

BONUS: Listen to any of these books for FREE with a 30 day free trial of Audible.

 

5. Virtual Freedom

Author: Chris Ducker

Summary

Entrepreneurs often suffer from ”superhero syndrome”—the misconception that to be successful, they must do everything themselves. Not only are they the boss, but also the salesperson, HR manager, copywriter, operations manager, online marketing guru, and so much more. It’s no wonder why so many people give up the dream of starting a business—it’s just too much for one person to handle. But outsourcing expert and ”Virtual CEO,” Chris Ducker knows how you can get the help you need with resources you can afford. Small business owners, consultants, and online entrepreneurs don’t have to go it alone when they discover the power of building teams of virtual employees to help run, support, and grow their businesses.

Biggest Takeaway

This is an awesome read for any small business owner or entrepreneur who needs an assistant, whether in-house or virtual. I just hired my first assistant, much to the celebration of my staff. Before I did, though, I put Ducker’s 3-step exercise into practice. Going through it helped me identify:

  1. The things I really don’t like doing.
  2. The things I shouldn’t be doing.
  3. The things I’m not good at anyway.

These are the things I gave to my new hire. My daily work activity is so much more efficient now. If you’re on the fence about hiring an assistant, grab a copy of Chris’ book and see what an assistant can do for you. It’s definitely one of the best books for business owners who want to take back control of their time.

Favorite Quote

 

6. Raving Fans

Author: Ken Blanchard & Sheldon Bowles

Summary

“Your customers are only satisfied because their expectations are so low and because no one else is doing better. Just having satisfied customers isn’t good enough anymore. If you really want a booming business, you have to create Raving Fans.”

Biggest Takeaway

My favorite thing about this book is that it is immediately actionable. After a couple of chapters, I realized that I had been way over-thinking how I could improve my own agency’s customer service.

Just like so many profound concepts in life, this book showed me that it’s really quite simple to create raving fans out of my own clients. You, as a small business owner, only have to put yourself in their shoes to gain the necessary perspective to make the right adjustments in your own company.

This is definitively one of the all time best books on business customer service out there.

Favorite Quote

 

7.Built to Last

Author: Jim Collins & Jerry Porras

Summary

Drawing upon a six-year research project at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras took eighteen truly exceptional and long-lasting companies and studied each in direct comparison to one of its top competitors. They examined the companies from their very beginnings to the present day — as start-ups, as midsize companies, and as large corporations. Throughout, the authors asked: “What makes the truly exceptional companies different from the comparison companies and what were the common practices these enduringly great companies followed throughout their history?”

Biggest Takeaway

Collins uses wonderful examples throughout this book of companies who are doing things the right way and the wrong way. Very well known companies, I might add.

What dawned on me very early on in reading it is that there’s no need for me, as a small business owner, to reinvent the wheel when it comes to building my own successful company. If I just identify the best traits of larger successful companies, I can apply them to my own business, minus the mistakes of the companies who didn’t make the grade.

Favorite Quote

 

8. Who Moved My Cheese?

Author: Spencer Johnson

Summary

With Who Moved My Cheese? Dr. Spencer Johnson realizes the need for finding the language and tools to deal with change–an issue that makes all of us nervous and uncomfortable. Most people are fearful of change because they don’t believe they have any control over how or when it happens to them. Since change happens either to the individual or by the individual, Spencer Johnson shows us that what matters most is the attitude we have about change.

Biggest Takeaway

What I walked away with from this book was a renewed sense of reality. As a small business owner, it’s easy to get caught in the weeds of everyday work problems.

Steve Jobs didn’t create the personal computing experience and then go on to revolutionize the way we listen to music and communicate with each other by just settling for the status quo. He embraced change and all the power that comes with it, just as this book teaches. Greatness begins when you challenge what is acceptable by the average Joe and push for meaningful change.

Favorite Quote

 

9. The 4-Hour Workweek

Author: Timothy Ferriss

Summary

Whether your dream is escaping the rat race, experiencing high-end world travel, earning a monthly five-figure income with zero management, or just living more and working less, The 4-Hour Workweek is the blueprint.

Biggest Takeaway

Tim Ferriss is a giant in his own right. But if you listen to his podcast (yes, he’s got one, too), he says quite often that he’s just an ordinary guy who’s figured out how to be ultra effective in what he does.

What I take away from this book is hope that I can be more effective and efficient in just about any aspect of my life. Tim also helped me see that the systems and processes I create as a small business owner for one company can translate well into other companies I create.

Favorite Quote

 

10. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership

Author: John C. Maxwell

Summary

What would happen if a top expert with more than thirty years of leadership experience were willing to distill everything he had learned about leadership into a handful of life-changing principles just for you? It would change your life. John C. Maxwell has combined insights learned from his thirty-plus years of leadership successes and mistakes with observations from the worlds of business, politics, sports, religion, and military conflict. The result is a revealing study of leadership delivered as only a communicator like Maxwell can.

Biggest Takeaway

This book acted as a checklist for my leadership skills when I first read it. The format provides an easy means for skipping around to what you think you might need to work on most in your life right now as a small business owner.

Favorite Quote

 

Want to listen to one of these books for free?

Strapped for time like I am? Think you don’t have enough time to read?

What if you could read your next book while in the car or working out?

As an added bonus for all you book worms, Audible is offering my readers a free audiobook download with a free 30-day trial to give you the opportunity to check out their service. So go ahead and download your free audiobook right now and start listening.

What’s on your list of the best business books to read?

I always love to hear from my readers. So let me know what your favorite books for small business are in the comments section below.