As a small business owner, you have to keep your business skills sharp to maintain an edge over your competitors. The tried and true way of doing this, even in the digital age, is reading thought-provoking books by fellow entrepreneurs and business experts. However, finding the time to sort through bookstore shelves (whether in the real world or online) can be challenging. To make your life easier, we’ve compiled a list of the best books that every small business owner or entrepreneur needs on their business bookshelf.
Voted as an Amazon Best Business Book in 2016 and a Wall Street Journal Business Bestseller, “Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World” focuses on getting more done without distractions. In an age of increasingly busy work environments and pervasive social media, entrepreneurs need to find their focus. Georgetown University professor Newport explains step by step why and how to restructure your day to get more accomplished in less time; the lessons are applicable to any leader in any industry. Prepare for a rigorous training session that will help you develop the “deep work” skill.
Principles: Life and Work (Ray Dalio)
Another bestseller, this time with the New York Times, “Principles: Life and Work” is endorsed by Bill Gates and Tony Robbins. Dalio, the Steve Jobs of investing, is a successful entrepreneur with over 40 years of experience. In fact, his investment firm Bridgewater Associates is the fifth most important private company in the US.
Dalio is a true success story, having grown up as a Long Island kid in a middle-class neighborhood. In his book, you’ll discover how he went from a bedroom-based enterprise to an entrepreneur using his own unique principles. His inspiration is legendary, focusing on radical truth, radical transparency, and the use of baseball cards.
Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers (Timothy Ferriss)
While the name Timothy Ferriss is far from unknown, you might be stuck on “The 4-Hour Workweek”, which made Ferriss a brand. In “Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers,” he interviews more than 200 business professionals and compiles the intricate details of these people’s workdays. As an added bonus, the interviewees often mention their favorite business books. When you’re done using this book for its valuable insight, it’s a great resource to further supplement your reading.
If you’re a TED Talk fan, then you have most likely seen Sinek in action. His talk, entitled “Start with Why,” is the third most popular TED Talk. Those thoughts have since been expanded upon to create this book.
In “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action,” you learn how to inspire your employees. This all starts with identifying the “why” behind your business. Why are you going into the office every day? Why did you start your company to begin with? The answer to “why,” along with a concept called “The Golden Circle” is highlighted in Sinek’s valuable book. You then go a step further to understand why influence is so powerful. As you begin to develop your own “why,” it will cement your position as an influencer in your niche.
Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur (Derek Sivers)
Recommended for minimalist entrepreneurs by “The Minimalists Podcast”, Derek Sivers is quite the character. Sivers founded CD Baby, which was the first online CD store. Within eight years, he sold the company for $22 million. As of August 2018, CD Baby was distributing more 2,000 tracks a day in North America alone, making up 50 percent of all self-released music by artists.
In “Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur,” you get battle stories from creative entrepreneurs. As one such entrepreneur, Sivers skips over the formal business plan and forgoes thinking in the long term. And guess what? It worked for him and it works for other business leaders all the time. If you want to start a business, begin where you are and focus on the customers rather than the cash.
You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life (Jen Sincero)
Don’t let the title turn you off. “You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life” by self-help coach Jen Sincero gets right to the nitty-gritty. If you want others to believe in your business, you have to believe in yourself first. For a leader who is familiar with entrepreneurial books, this is a refreshing take on business talk. Each chapter has an actionable plan to take control of your career, money, and business relationships. Plus, as the title suggests, there are some colorful phrases sprinkled throughout, which helps to ease the seriousness.
How To Win Friends and Influence People (Dale Carnegie)
Rounding out this list of the best books for small business owners is the classic “How To Win Friends and Influence People”. This book has been in print since 1937. As of August 2018, it’s #8 on Amazon’s Top 20 Most Sold & Read Books of the Week.
Author Dale Carnegie was a poor farmer’s son. He paved his way as a lecturer and author on self-improvement by focusing on helping individuals gain self-confidence. His real world-based business lectures packed houses in his day and led to the establishment of the Dale Carnegie Institute. Yet as you cruise through his book, you will be amazed at how relevant his insights remain to this day.
Running a business is an ongoing process, from generating the first idea to signing the lease on a new office. Although there’s no definitive guide to entrepreneurship, the books featured here can offer insight and inspiration to any small business owner — no matter where you are on the journey.