4 Books to Help Your Small Business Grow

Reading might make all the difference in your small business’s success – in fact, many of the world’s most successful people spend the majority of their days reading.

According to HuffPost, Warren Buffett spends 80 percent of his day flipping pages, Bill Gates reads an average of a book per week, and Mark Cuban spends three hours per day with his nose in a book.

How can you spend time reading and remove ‘working’ guilt from the equation? There are plenty of books available that can help expand your mind and your business. Below are some recommendations on great books for entrepreneurs at every stage.

For Marketing Inspiration:

Return on Courage: A Business Playbook for Courageous Change by Ryan Berman

Ryan Berman’s book studies some of the most courageous, inspirational people in the world – an astronaut, a Navy SEAL and a former VP of communications at Apple, to name a few – to find out what they have in common. The thread? These remarkable people have freed themselves (and in some cases, their companies) from misconceptions to do truly incredible things in life and business. This book is all about throwing fear out the window and having the courage to make real change.

What I like most about this book is the mindset shift it encourages of the reader. There’s a focus on boundaries and how to not only identify your own but push past them. I’ve certainly utilized this mindset throughout my career and especially in the past year after taking on a new leadership role in a new industry – during a global pandemic. We can’t let our fears or doubts hold us back from achieving what is possible.

For Innovation Ideas:

Reality Check: The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging and Outmarketing Your Competition by Guy Kawasaki

Prolific entrepreneur and venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki brings you back to the basics in this no-nonsense book about leveling up. Why? He thinks that modern business is too concerned about trends that don’t matter. He breaks down the basics of business and what your colleagues (and competition) are thinking to make sure that you respond accordingly.

An expert reviewer from HubSpot reads this book regularly: “Before I do the next software deal, I’ll refresh the points in ‘Reality Check.’ Having been in most roles during negotiations at different times, a refresher on what others at the table are thinking is a good idea. When Kawasaki covers the multiple lies flying during talks, I [get] a good smile.”

Kawasaki’s back-to-basics approach makes this book timeless, which is excellent for small business owners looking to level up in 2021 but feeling overwhelmed by all potential possibilities.

For Burnout Advice:

Traction by Gino Wickman

2020 was a challenging year for everyone, and small business owners have certainly been no exception. Wickman’s book asks a critical question – do you control your business, or does your business control you? Traction is all about handling the problems you face as a business owner – and not the day-to-day things, either. He focuses on the things that can adversely affect your business, such as burnout, frustration and feeling like you’re not in control.

The Balance Small Business describes the book beautifully: “[Traction] suggests the ‘Entrepreneurial Operating System’ (EOS) to deal with frustration, burnout, and associated problems. Wickman offers three ways to implement the EOS. It’s chock full of tools and techniques that will bring you and your business back on track, but it’s more about strategy than step-by-step instruction.”

It also benefits from being very easy to read with straightforward suggestions, which means you’ll have actionable tips from the get-go.

When You Need a Boost:

Business Adventures by John Brooks

This book about the fundamentals came to prominence off of a recommendation from two of the most prolific businessmen of our time – Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. Bill Gates says that this is his favorite business book ever because it stands the test of time. An article from CNBC summarizes the book neatly: “‘Business Adventures’ is a compilation of 12 stories – previously published in The New Yorker, where Brooks was a staff writer – about some of the most important events in 20th century corporate America. Each profile is a fascinating account of how a certain moment in history shaped an entire company.

“But what truly makes the book so brilliant (apart from its wonderful prose) is that it can appeal to readers who aren’t even interested in the nature of finance. It offers a goldmine of lessons about people and life – our instinctive behaviors, what makes us excel and what troubles lie ahead if we give into our inherent savageries.”

I couldn’t agree more with this assessment. This book is full of great practical advice on being adaptable and open to change, reframing failure, and focusing on company values for success.

While it’s true that you can’t run a business with a book, I think any of these books are a fantastic way to refine your strategies, think about things differently and hopefully you’re your business thrive. Happy reading!