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7 Books Every Small Business Owner Should Read

stack of books

Happy National Small Business Week!

There are more than 27 million small businesses in the United States and they are a major contributor to the health and growth of our economy. Some have estimated that more than half of all Americans either own or work for a small business.

Because so many Logomaker customers are just starting their own small business, we thought we’d share a few things this week that might help you on your journey.

This following is a list we originally printed at our newsletter blog last year (we’ve tweaked it a bit since). The response there was great, so we thought we’d reprint the list here as well, so a whole new group of small business leaders can benefit.

7 Books Every Business Owner Should Read—Plus 3 More We Think You’ll Like

Every year, 11,000 new business books are published. If you were to stack all of these books on top of each other, they would create a tower more than nine stories high. Who has time to read that many books? Or even the very best 10%?

Most harried business owners say they don’t have time to read at all—beyond a few email newsletters and what shows up in the mail every day.

That’s too bad, because the right books can be a great supplement for your business experience. If you’re starting a company, there’s a lot to learn—operations, marketing, recruiting, finance, and accounting, not to mention manufacturing your product or delivering your service. A couple of bad decisions can sink a great business before it has a chance to get off the ground. The right books can help you avoid those mistakes.

If you don’t already have a list of business books you’re aching to read, here are a few ideas to get you started:

Art of Start Book Cover #1—The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything by Guy Kawasaki

If new businesses came with an Owner’s Manual, it would look a lot like The Art of the Start. Kawasaki’s book is packed with advice for successfully building a business, from business ideas to raising capital, plus advice on branding, networking, and recruiting. If you’re thinking about starting a business, or if you’re already hung up your shingle, this is a good book to read for ideas and advice to make sure it goes well.

E Myth Book Cover#2—The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael Gerber

“Work on your business, not in it.” If you’ve heard this advice before, you’ve already got a sneak-peak at the wisdom in this excellent book. Using the story of Sarah, an entrepreneur with a struggling pie bakery, Gerber outlines how to develop systems that make a business more effective, and perhaps more importantly, scalable. We highly recommend this book to any business owner who feels stuck, or has come to the realization that running a business is a lot harder than they thought it would be.

Made to Stick Book Cover#3—Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath

What makes an idea or story memorable? How can you get customers to pay attention to you and your business? This insightful book answers those critical questions for small business owners and teaches the secrets to more effective communication. An easy and entertaining read. This is one of our all-time favorite books.

Positioning Book Cover#4—Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind by Al Ries and Jack Trout

We live in a media-intensive society where getting customers to pay attention and care about your business is not just difficult, it’s almost impossible. This short book will help you correctly position your product in the marketplace, then develop a message for your product that will get into your customer’s consciousness and stay there. This book should be required reading for anyone involved in marketing.

Good to Great Book Cover#5—Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… And Others Don’t by Jim Collins

Although this book has been criticized over the past couple of years (it praises Fannie Mae and now bankrupt Circuit City), the concepts that define a great business are still worth thinking about and developing in your organization: ideas like the hedgehog concept, getting the right people on the bus, the fly-wheel, and Level-5 Leadership. This book is full of solid concepts that will get you thinking about how to make your business great.

Getting Thinks Done Book Cover#6—Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen

The biggest challenge for most small business owners is often as simple as getting things done. This book outlines a simple process for assessing what needs to happen and staying focused until the job is done. This book won’t help much with motivation, but if you need a process to get through your list of things to do each day, we recommend this organizational gem. Another excellent book on the same topic is Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan. Both a great reads for those who want to get more done.

Linchpin Book Cover#7—Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin

This book, about making yourself critical to your organization’s success, is a passionate manifesto about becoming the go-to person on any project. It’s about learning, and creativity, and delivering what needs to be done. It’s about taking a risk, which is often less risky than avoiding it. Once you read this book by Seth Godin, you’ll want to share it with all the members of your team.


In addition to the books listed above, here are three more most small business owners will enjoy. They’re a little different from the books listed above, and in some ways, more fun to read. But they’re full of insights and thinking that can change the way you think about your business.

Orbiting Book Cover#8—Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace by Gordon MacKenzie

It’s hard to call this a serious business book, but despite the colorful pages and funny stories, that’s exactly what this book is. This is probably the best book ever written on creativity. The book, like it’s author, is quirky and weird—and it perfectly captures what creativity is all about and how to foster more creativity in your business (and life).

Rework Book Cover#9—Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

This little book, written by software entrepreneurs, is all about establishing a culture in a small business environment. It’s full of ideas about hiring (and not hiring), customer interaction, employee management, and idea generation. It weighs in at 273 pages, but can be read in less than two hours—and you’ll walk away from the book energized with dozens of ideas for your own business.

Pour Your Heart Into it Book Cover#10—Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time by Howard Schultz and Dori Jones Yang

I challenge you to read this book without getting an overwhelming urge to start a new business (or get excited about the one you have). This is the story of Starbucks, from its humble beginnings as a small coffee shop to its remarkable growth over 25 years. Through it all, Schultz’s passion for a great product and his desire to take care of customers and employees shines through. An inspiring story packed with leadership lessons.

Have you already read the books above? Another great resource for finding just the right business book for you is, The 100 Best Business Books of All Time: What they Say, Why They Matter, and How They Can Help You by Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten. No matter where you get your book list, a few minutes a day reading is the best way to find that million dollar idea that will make all the difference in your business venture. If you’re more into hearing about the success of others, we recommend reading biographies instead. Don’t like reading books at all but still want the advice? Check out a few inspirational podcasts for business owners.

Did we miss one of your favorite business books? Let us know in the comments.