I read a lot of business books each year. Most books I read have a few key points that have some value and then there are some books that are just chocked full of great advice for the business owner.
The following list contains the business books that I have in my personal library that I frequently recommend to my clients. Most of the books listed below I have read over and over again because they are so rich in actionable wisdom for the entrepreneur.
The list is presented in no particular order so read through the entire list and discover why each book is on my recommended reading list for entrepreneurs.
Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World
Michael Hyatt’s book is a great step-by-step guide for anyone with something to sell. Getting the attention of an audience is a difficult task these days with so much noise. Michael does a great job breaking down the process into actionable steps you will need to generate web traffic and engage with your audience.
Blue Ocean Strategy, Expanded Edition: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant
The authors do a great job to help the reader understand how to create an uncontested market space vs competing with the competition head-to-head and sacrificing margin. A must read for a business exploring new business models.
Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces that Shape Behavior
I love the psychological aspects of understanding how people make decisions. Jonah Berger describes the hidden forces that shape a person’s behavior and is a must read for anyone engaged in marketing or sales.
Duct Tape Marketing Revised and Updated: The World’s Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide
I met John Jantsch at a SCORE leadership meeting many years ago when his book just came out in 2006. Since then his book, which introduced the concept of “Know-Like-Trust” has become the cornerstone of many marketing efforts and was updated in 2011. A good book for anyone attempting to understand the key principles of good marketing.
The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
One of my all-time favorite books. I have read this book so many times. Malcolm Gladwell explains through various case studies how products and ideas can spread like wildfire. A must read for anyone in marketing wanting to gain insight into what makes some products and ideas go viral.
Free Marketing: 101 Low and No-Cost Ways to Grow Your Business, Online and Off
I love free and low-cost marketing ideas. The ideas from Jim Cockrum’s book has been my inspiration for many a blog post on marketing. A great read for the all us entrepreneurs with a limited marketing budget.
Going Social: Excite Customers, Generate Buzz, and Energize Your Brand with the Power of Social Media
For anyone struggling to grasp the role of social media in today’s marketing efforts, look no further than Jeremy Goldman’s book, Going Social. Learn the tricks to excite customers, generate buzz, and energize your brand with social media.
Rainmaking Conversations: Influence, Persuade, and Sell in Any Situation
As an entrepreneur, we are always selling. In their book, Rainmaking Conversations, the authors describe their RAIN system. In fact, their chapter on, “16 principles of influence in sales”, was so compelling for me it was the basis of a whole series of blog posts and a white paper on the subject. This is a book every salesperson should read and then read again.
The Magic Power of Emotional Appeal: The Fine Art of Swaying Opinion in Any Situation
Some content never gets old. This book was written in 1964 when TV was still black and white. However, Roy Garn describes the emotional appeals that are hardwired into everyone. This book has been the inspiration for a whole series of blog posts. A must read for anyone looking to tap into a customer’s inner emotions and make them want to listen to your message.
Predictably Irrational, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions
Absolutely love this book. Have it in both audio and print formats. Dan Ariely taps into the secrets of why we as humans act irrationally in many situations. Knowing how the customer will respond in various situations is a powerful skill every entrepreneur must understand and master.
The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich
For anyone looking to escape the rat race or begin a side hustle this book is for you. This groundbreaking book by Tim Ferriss shows you how everything you thought you knew about work life is wrong. This one book truly changed my life and has allowed me to work part-time and earn a living.
Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World
Gary Vaynerchuck is an undisputed icon in the social media space. In this book, he looks at all the popular platforms and describes what it takes to be successful on each using examples of good and bad design. If you are new to social media or just what to do a better job, this is a great book for you.
Little Red Book of Selling: 12.5 Principles of Sales Greatness
When it comes to sales, Jeffrey Gitomer is the go-to guy. This book is absolutely chock-full of useful information to make you a better sales person. Every entrepreneur should give this book a read.
Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers
This was the first book by Seth Godin I read. I’m a super fan of his because of this book. The concept of permission marketing is a total game changer. This one concept has permeated scores of my blog posts and is a truly foundational concept every small business owner needs to understand.
The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)
Being an entrepreneur is hard. We all encounter what Seth Godin calls the dip. In this book, he discusses how to know when to persevere and keep going and when to throw in the towel and move to the next thing. A must read for every founder.
Ask: The Counterintuitive Online Method to Discover Exactly What Your Customers Want to Buy…Create a Mass of Raving Fans…and Take Any Business to the Next Level
I have recommended Ryan Levesque’s book to scores of clients. His “Ask” methodology provides a concrete and easy to follow process to learn what your customer really wants and how to customize your content to deliver targeted information to them. This is a fundamental concept all small businesses need to understand to succeed today.
Rich Dad’s CASHFLOW Quadrant: Rich Dad’s Guide to Financial Freedom
Robert Kiyosaki’s CASHFLOW Quadrant helps frame the progression from being an employee to becoming an investor. The content of this book is the subject of many a blog post. It explains the income and tax implications of being an employee, self-employed, business owner, and investor. Everyone contemplating starting a business should understand the concepts described in this book.
How to License Your Million Dollar Idea: Cash In On Your Inventions, New Product Ideas, Software, Web Business Ideas, And More
This Harvey Reese book is perhaps my most recommended books of all time. Many of my clients come to me wanting to start a business based on a new product idea and have little or no understanding of business. If you have an idea for a new product I HIGHLY recommend you read this book before you consider starting a business to manufacture and sell your product.
The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation
The authors of this book have conducted extensive research on what makes the best salesperson. The content of “The Challenger Sale” is the inspirations of several blog posts. If you deal with sales or you employ and inside or outsides sales force, this book is a must read.
Who Owns the Ice House? Eight Life Lessons From an Unlikely Entrepreneur
As the entrepreneurship director at a community college I, worked with the author, Gary Schoneniger, to implement the concepts of this book as a prerequisite course for over 1,500 students per semester and achieved dramatic results. The 8 lessons described by Clifton Taulbert in this easy to read book, every person, whether a business owner or not, should embrace if they hope to lead a successful in life.
Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
The Heath brothers book will transform the way you think about communications. The concepts described in this book are infused in many of my blog posts. As a small business owner, crafting a sticky marketing campaign as described in “Made to Stick” is essential to success. A truly great read for everyone involved in marketing efforts.
Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers
If your business sells a new and innovative product you must read this book by Geoffrey A. Moore. It describes the technology adoption process and the 5 categories of adopters. Additionally, the author describes the chasm that exists between early adopters and the majority of later adopters that prevent many start-ups from capitalizing on their ideas.
The Undercover Economist, Revised and Updated Edition: Exposing Why the Rich Are Rich, the Poor Are Poor – and Why You Can Never Buy a Decent Used Car!
While Tim Harford’s book is not related to small businesses explicitly, it describes how the overall economy works. The concepts described are invaluable when it comes to understanding how to price your product or service. The concepts described in this book are the source of many a blog post related to pricing. You owe it to yourself to read this book.
DotCom Secrets: The Underground Playbook for Growing Your Company Online
The author Russell Brunson does an excellent job explaining the concept of a value ladder and why every business needs one as well as how it relates to your sales funnel. He includes examples of several funnels and sales scrips to help turn leads into revenue. If you have a website looking to converting traffic into paying customers, this book is a must-read for you.