4 Books Every Small Business Owners Should Read

Someone famous once advised, “Read more. It allows you to borrow someone else’s brain.” With regard to business, books are possibly the most underrated source of information. How to blogs, motivational twitter accounts, and TED Talks come to mind. To be fair, most business books are not high-quality. The pop-business section of Barnes and Noble survives mostly by the grace of corporate suits who pick up today’s Lean In and yesteryear’s Good to Great for discussion at this quarter’s off-site.

business owners

In order to make it in today’s competitive landscape, it’s important to think deeply — that is, longer than eight minutes — on business owners. Some business books focus on developing traits that will lead you to the c-suite, but I find great advice doesn’t discriminate and often translates across all levels. Whether you’re a sole proprietor, have a small business of your own, or lead a team that makes up part of a larger organization, consider stocking your bookshelf with the selection below to sharpen your mind and add to your business’ unique advantage — you.

This list is completely biased on my past reading history.

How Will You Measure Your Life?
Clayton Christensen

Clayton Christensen first was praised for his research behind the The Innovator’s Dilemma. His more recent work explores looking beyond the bottom line. As you build your business, make time to define your end goal. When vital tasks mount and your to do list becomes unconscionably overwhelming, having identified what metrics you will use to determine success will keep you motivated and on-track. Intangible metrics not accounted for in your sales and net profits are often what drive entrepreneurs to create their own business in the first place. Purpose. Meaning. Legacy. When you make your work worth doing, measures of success can come in various forms. What’s yours?

Thinking, Fast and Slow
Daniel Kahneman

If ever there was a book written about why we do what we do, this is it. Thinking, Fast and Slowrepresents the culmination of decade’s worth of research conducted by Daniel Kahneman and the late Amos Tversky. Kahneman’s digest of complex studies discusses the practical implications of judgement, decision making, and behavior. A word cap on this blog post leads me to oversimplify — there’s no overstatement of the significance of this work.

The Art of War
Sun Tzu

This classic on ancient warfare is a gem. Regarded as one of the finest works on strategy and tactical positioning, Sun Tzu narrates war scenarios from the vantage point of sixth century China. While ruthless, Sun Tzu comprehensive analysis of warfare is oddly familiar to those who seek success in the modern business world. After 2,500 years, his teachings are as relevant now than ever.

The Power of No: Because One Little Word Can Bring Health, Abundance, and Happiness
James Altucher

Anyone trying to start their own business can attest to the fact that there aren’t enough hours in a day. James Altucher has authored numerous books and bankrupted several companies brilliantly. This guy is from the school of hard knocks for sure. Learn from his mistakes in The Power of No where he calls for entrepreneurs to be more selective before saying “Yes”. It’s okay to be selfish.

Also, books I haven’t read but have heard are worth reading…

The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers
Ben Horowitz

The Art of Choosing
Sheena Iyengar

Can’t Buy Me Like: How Authentic Customer Connections Drive Superior Results
Bob Garfield

The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
Eric Ries

And if you’re considering blogging for your business or as a business don’t forget to pick up my book Boss Blog Planner.

Boss Blog Planner

Martine Alphonse

The Boss Blog Planner helps bloggers set specific goals and create an actionable plan to run a successful blog! This 148 page one-year blog editorial planner helps you create a purposeful and profitable content plan for your blog through a blog business plan, ideal reader persona survey, monthly theme planning, monthly content planning, monthly income and expenses, and standard monthly calendars. The blog planner is set up with blank months so that you can start using it any month of any year. Each month includes a page to plan important goals and tasks before the month begins, and to track progress on key stats and goals before and after the month ends. Keeping your blog post process checklist, business plan, and other planning pages in the same place as your monthly editorial calendar will help you stay focused in creating a compelling content plan that encourages blog growth and increased profits.


What great business books have you torn through lately? We’d love to hear some of your all time favorites and how they have impacted your perspective on life and business.