Last updated on December 14th, 2022
One of my hobbies is reading, and I’m a strong believer that books can be a great resource for knowledge and information when studying a range of topics.
As a result, I actually recommend that those who want to start their own small business should read as much as they can first.
Whether it’s from books or genuine business and marketing articles from blogs like mine, you can learn so much more by going out and reading.
This website is supported by readers like you. If you purchase after clicking one of our affiliate links, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
But…which books should start with?
Here are some of my favorite books which I like to recommend to small business owners. Not all of the books below will be relevant to you, or perhaps some just don’t meet your reading preferences – and that’s completely fine!
Read what you enjoy but if you are stuck for ideas, then I hope the recommendations below will help you find a good book to start with.
Best Books For Small Businesses (In My Opinion)
Here are my top recommendations for books for small businesses (see also ‘Best Small Business Onboarding Software‘).
As a little disclaimer, everyone has their own reading preferences so I can’t promise that you will be completely in love with all the options below. However, you may find some really interesting books that can help you learn a lot more about business.
With that said, let’s get started.
The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What To Do About It By Michael E. Gerber
Statistics show that 10% of startups fail within their first year and that 90% of small businesses fail after ten years since they began business.
These cold hard facts can be crushing for a lot of entrepreneurs and even intimidate people from starting their own business.
The E-Myth Revisited is one of the many books by Michael E. Gerber that aims to coach future business owners to help their business succeed.
The author himself is a small business consultant with years of experience behind him, and so his writings provide a lot of great insights that business owners and entrepreneurs can benefit from.
The book itself walks through the steps of a business’s life – from its infancy to the growing ‘adolescent’ pains and finally, to its mature stage.
Along the way, Gerber highlights mistakes, assumptions, and expectations that business owners make and how they can spell disaster for a business’s success.
The E-Myth Revisited is a return to a classic best-seller and is easily one of the first books aspiring business owners will be recommended to read.
Many reviews call the book ‘inspiring’ to ‘life-changing’ as it teaches valuable lessons that many business owners need.
From finances, sales, operations, and more, The E-Myth Revisited acts as a warning guide to the critical mistakes business owners make.
As a result, many people use this book as a guide or business Bible to accompany them through their career.
Those who love this book range from seasoned business owners who are only discovering it after years in their business to aspiring first-timers still kicking the business idea around on paper.
As a result, this is clearly a book that can be read by all small business owners (new or old) because the information and guidance is still applicable and relevant whether it’s your first, second, or tenth read.
The reason why The E-Myth Revisited is at the top of my recommendations is because it’s not your typical ‘how-to’ book that many assume it is.
Although it definitely provides readers with a lot of useful advice and guidance, the best thing about this book is how it changes how you view business.
Gerber discusses how a lot of small business owners are technicians in different industries who take what they love and turn it into a job. However, although the technicians are great at what they do, they now have to learn and juggle a dozen other jobs to get a business up and running.
Not only does that really hit the nail on the head for a lot of business owners out there, but it’s something that really spoke to me the first time I read it (and the second, and the third, and so on).
Gerber defines the difference between working on your business and actually working in your business – a distinction that a lot of small businesses can sometimes overlook.
So, I have found this book to be really inspirational over the years and so have so many others. It’s also a pretty short book and is an easy read, so I believe it’s a great first book to start out with.
Strategize To Win: The Way To Start Out, Step Up, Or Start Over In Your Career By Carla A. Harris
There are a lot of different motivations for starting your own business. One study found that 55% of entrepreneurs are motivated by the idea of being their own boss, while 39% wanted to pursue a passion, and 25% were done with corporate America.
Basically, most of us go into starting our own business as a career change – and this can be a tricky, uncertain point in our lives.
Carla Harris’s Strategize To Win is a book designed to speak to those who are (or just thinking about) switching careers. It provides readers with the tools and knowledge they need to get started, get out of bad situations, and how to get a clean start by starting over.
All of this is told from one of Wall Street’s executive professionals who has sat on the boards of various organizations and knows how to handle the bumps and surprises that comes with running a business.
The book is divided into three sections with each one offering important advice and strategies to help with issues around motivation, problem solving, and tackling challenges head on.
While reading through the numerous reviews on this book, I noticed a few words that keep repeating and repeating – wisdom, practical, and precise.
A lot of readers praise this book for how realistic and direct the advice and guidance is. It cuts out the waffle, the huge metaphors and vague references with direct lessons and ‘pearls of wisdom’.
As a result, some people call this book ‘essential’ and ideal for beginners who are just starting out in their own small business.
When I first picked up this book, I wasn’t sure if it was for me because I had heard that it was about finding your feet in new careers.
However, looking back now, I can see how a lot of the advice Harris gives in this book is still applicable whether you are just switching jobs or starting a new business from scratch.
I would definitely recommend this one to business owners who are at the very start of their journey.
It helps you learn more about yourself along with strategies and tips to help you repair any mistakes you’ve made (which is super handy, because a lot of books talk about avoiding them rather than fixing them).
So, if you’re still in need of advice and motivation, this book has you covered.
I also loved the direct and forward writing style of Harris. She’s a great narrator and her personality really shines through, which helps make this book a really enjoyable read in my opinion.
Dare To Lead By Brene Brown
Some small businesses are run by a single person but the Small Business Administration actually defines a small business as a company that has fewer than 1,500 employees.
The average number of employees in a small business is actually around 10. This means that a lot of business owners are going to be stepping into a leadership role, and some of us for the first time.
Dare To Lead is a book which offers a leadership model for business leaders to take inspiration from to help create a positive work culture for their employees.
This is incredibly important because toxic work cultures can increase employee turnover with 1 in 5 employees leaving their jobs due to toxic cultures at work.
So, if you want to keep your employees in your small business, Dare To Lead will help to achieve that by giving advice on how to be a good boss and create a great work environment for your employees.
The book offers advice on how to lead in through difficult situations, make tough decisions, and ultimately how to value your employees. Each piece of advice is backed up with research, studies, and examples so the information is valuable and true.
Dare To Lead is an extremely popular book online as many praise the insight it provides and the valuable resource it is to so many business and group leaders.
Some even say that the advice provided from Brene Brown also applies to leaders outside of small businesses and so, it’s a great inspiring book to read no matter what kind of situation you are in.
What I love the most about this book is how honest and truthful it is. Every insight and pearl of wisdom given is backed up with evidence from stories and examples.
It’s clear that the author here had done their research and it makes me a lot more confident in the advice I take away from it.
I’ve met a few business owners who are great at what they do but struggle with the leadership aspect of running a business.
After all, you can be great at research, sales, and even accounting – but a successful business needs a strong leadership figure at the helm.
So, I would definitely recommend this book to any small business owners who feel that they need help and guidance with managing their employees and how to create a workforce that are satisfied with their roles and workplace culture – two things that are vital for productivity (see also, ‘Why is Employee Productivity Important?‘) and success.
The Little Red Book Of Selling By Jeffrey Gitomer
Every business is trying to sell something, whether it’s a product, a service, or even a brand. As a result, every small business owner needs to understand the principles of ‘selling’ so they know how to do it successfully.
One highly recommended book for this is The Little Red Book Of Selling. It’s filled with strategies and techniques used by longtime sales consultant Jeffrey Gitomer who uses his many years of sales experience to give helpful and insightful advice.
The book covers how to build meaningful relationships with clients and buyers, using ethical and effective methods, as well as dipping its toe into areas such as branding, customer engagement, value, networking, and more.
It’s densely packed with straightforward information and advice that comes from a professional in the field.
Many online reviews refer to this book as a ‘sales essential’ filled with relevant and useful insights that businesses (see also, ‘Why Copywriting Is Essential For Your Business‘) can use in their day to day practices. A lot even praise the quirky style of Gitomer, whose personality in this book has made it a fun read for many.
One repeated compliment about this book is how it goes beyond just usual advice and strategies, and really helps you get into the mindset of success through sales. It doesn’t focus on how to ‘get rich quick’ but how to make good sales.
Sales is vital for every small business, and I’ve seen some great ideas go down the drain because the business couldn’t make enough sales to keep afloat. As a result, I’d recommend this book to a lot of small businesses, especially the ones who are concerned about their sales and revenue.
It’s definitely an entertaining read with some great ideas, plus it’s perfectly straightforward and doesn’t drag you along with vague ideas or motions. It cuts to the chase with its insights and information while being a really engaging read.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People By Stephen Covey
The final book I’d like to recommend is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.
It’s easy to become burnt out while running a small business and productivity can suffer as a result. However 7 Habits was written to help inspire all kinds of people to be more efficient and productive by picking up the several habits of highly effective people.
The book details each habit in depth with different methods on how each habit can be used today and in different situations.
With over 40 million copies sold, this book has secured its place on the New York Times’ best seller list and is considered to be one of the most influential business books of the 20th century.
Despite being written decades ago, the knowledge and information inside is still relevant to many of todays’ readers.
Many readers say they find 7 Habits to be an incredibly unique but effective book that stands out from any ‘self improvement books’ you may have read. It is great for business owners and is insightful and thought-provoking – all while being an easy read.
I am all about efficiency and most of the time, I’m looking for ways to automate menial tasks or improve employee productivity (see also, ‘How to Improve Workplace Productivity‘) – all to make sure that I am getting the most efficient work out of my business.
This book is one of my favorites for advice and guidance on how to make myself work more efficiently and effectively. It’s easy to see why this book is so popular as it’s relatable and relevant to people from all walks of life.
As a business owner, I found it to be incredibly useful as it approaches both professional and personal problems with clear solutions and practical advice.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Kind Of Books Should I Read In Business?
There are lots of different books in the category of ‘business’ ranging from entrepreneurs talking about their experiences and history, to textbooks that go into detail about business strategies or techniques.
This means that you have a lot of choice on where to start but ultimately, I recommend that you start with the kind of books you are interested in and are relevant to you.
Want to start an online e-commerce business? Then pick up a book in that category. Prefer to read books from a business owner’s point of view? Then start out with those.
Reading is much easier when you enjoy what you are reading and you will learn plenty of useful information along the way.
What Are The Three Most Important Things In Business?
Starting with what topics are important for businesses is a good place to start when choosing the books you want to read.
In business, it’s generally considered that the important keys to business success are customer relations, financial management, and operations.
So, these are also good topics to start looking for reading material in.
How Can I Teach Myself Business?
As much as I love reading, I don’t think you can rely on books alone to teach you everything you need about business. I got a BA Economics and Marketing degree, and I still learned a lot of new things during the start of my career.
While books are a good place to start, I also recommend you take up as many business related courses as you can, get as many qualifications behind you as possible, and get a lot of experience under your belt.
There are a lot of benefits that come with reading, from reducing stress by up to 68% to helping 50% of people get a better night’s rest, but reading can also help you learn a ton of useful information in a range of different topics.
If you love reading like me and you want to learn more to help make your small business a success, then check out the books I have recommended above.
I can’t promise that you’ll enjoy them all as everyone has their own preferences when it comes to books, but I can promise that they are informative and contain a lot of interesting facts that small business owners can potentially benefit from. Enjoy!