2019 Summer Reading: Books for Small-Business Owners

Whether you’re relaxing outdoors or making the most of your commute, summer is a great time for small-business owners to catch up on reading (audio books count, too!). As the saying goes, readers are leaders. Many notable entrepreneurs, including Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Mark Cuban, are avid book lovers, often sharing their picks on social media.

Books can help small-business owners step up their game, gain valuable strategy and growth insights, and find inspiration. Here are a dozen titles — from classics to new releases — to put on your summer reading list.

1. “The E-Myth Revisited” by Michael E. Gerber

If you haven’t yet read the business classic “The E-Myth Revisited,” start here. Author Michael Gerber shares three roles every business owner must take on to succeed: technician, entrepreneur and manager. He dispels the myth that hard work alone is enough and provides actionable steps to make sure your startup has the best chance to thrive.

2. “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie

How to Win Friends and Influence People is another classic book for building your small business and, more importantly, relationships. You’ll get tips on the best way to interact with customers, partners, vendors and more. Ultimately, you’ll learn how to show a genuine interest in others and connect with someone’s core desires. Good relationships are your business’s foundation, and this book will help you strengthen them.

3. “Start With Why” by Simon Sinek

Too often, owners focus on the “what” or “how” of their small businesses, but it’s important to communicate the “why,” as well. You created your business for a purpose, such as simplifying someone’s life or relieving a pain point. “Start With Why” will help you define and share that purpose to inspire yourself, your team and your customers.

4. “Built to Last” by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras

Sometimes, the best inspiration is learning how someone else achieved their success. In “Built to Last,” you’ll learn how and why the most successful companies, including Walt Disney, Sony and Walmart, outperform their competitors. The stories are deep with research, giving you data to emulate their plans and giving your business the best chance for longevity.

5. “Crushing It!” by Gary Vaynerchuk

If you want advice on how to use social media well, “Crushing It!” will deliver. Each social media platform is different, so the message you use on each should be different, too. You’ll get tips and strategies for growing your online presence and building relationships with customers to make the most of your social media marketing efforts.

6. “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” by Daniel H. Pink

When you own a business, you have to juggle a lot of priorities, and identifying what to do first or what can wait can be a challenge. “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” will help you learn how to tap into true motivation and put it into action. You’ll get tips on how to realign your priorities in business and in life to better accomplish your goals.

7. “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” by Dr. Robert Cialdini

As a small-business owner, you’re also a salesperson. If you need a great lesson in marketing, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” is a classic book that will help you excel. You’ll learn the six universal principles of persuasion, such as social proof or reciprocation, and how to use them subtly to help encourage someone to buy from you.

8. “Rework” by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

Chances are, the business you first envisioned might end up looking a little different than the business that begins to succeed. Written by the founders of the project-management platform Basecamp, “Rework” will encourage you to use trial and error to launch and grow your business, going from big idea to a thriving operation.

9. “Impossible to Ignore” by Dr. Carmen Simon

Each day, we’re bombarded by thousands of messages — and by now, many of us have learned to tune them out. Written by a cognitive scientist, “Impossible to Ignore” will show you how to share your messages and content in a way that cuts through the clutter. You’ll learn how to tap into emotion, repetition or surprise to make a lasting impression on your audience.

10. “Guerrilla Marketing” by Jay Conrad Levinson

Small-business owners don’t always have big marketing budgets. “Guerrilla Marketing” will give you several accessible and affordable tips to take your marketing to the next level. Catch your customers’ attention with clever and unusual PR tricks and tactics that will make your business stand out.

11. “Think And Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill

It goes without saying that small-business owners have their share of ups and downs, but maintaining a positive attitude can help you persevere. Learn the power of positive thinking by reading “Think and Grow Rich.” One of the best-selling books of all time, its message is as relevant today as it was when it was first written in 1937. It’s the perfect book to grab when you need some inspiration.

12. “Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose” by Tony Hsieh

When Zappos was founded in 1999, CEO Tony Hsieh adopted unusual practices, such as putting company culture as the top priority and applying research from the science of happiness to run a business. The practices worked, and you can read about Hsieh’s journey and the lessons he learned in “Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passions, and Purpose.”

Start Reading Now

Motivational speaker Charlie “Tremendous” Jones once said, “You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” Build your library with these books for small-business owners, and you’ll undoubtedly grow your skills and your business.

Stephanie Vozza
Stephanie Vozza
Stephanie Vozza is an experienced writer who specializes in small business, finance, HR and retail. She has been a regular columnist for Fast Company for more than four years and her work frequently appears in Inc., Entrepreneur and Parade.

See all posts by Stephanie Vozza
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