When opening or running your own small business, you may need advisers. However, with consultant costs ranging from a few hundred an hour to a few thousand dollars in classes, sometimes a good book will be what you need, as well as what you can afford. Here, we take a look at the top ten books for small business owners who want to both keep their name in the game, and expand their business in the future.
10. How to Run Your Business So You Can Leave In Style by John H. Brown
Sometimes, it’s best to have an exit plan even at the start of a business. We all want to retire one day, right? This book helps you strategically plan your business so that if it’s successful enough to retire from (which is also partially covered within the text), and how to structure finances to allow for a successful pass on to your heirs or a way to cash in on a great career to a buyer looking to expand your legacy.
9. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell
A book written by an author whose 30 years of experience gave him ample lessons to take down for others, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership is essential if your business plan requires you to be a leader (spoilers: it probably does). Taking from not only business but religion and military conflict, Maxwell also brings examples to bear that can be boiled down to essential lessons for any young venture, which can be referenced easily given the format of the text.
8. Who Moved My Cheese by Dr. Spencer Johnson
Who Moved My Cheese by physician Spencer Johnson centers around what many small businesses fear or dread: change. This text orients the reader towards the view that while change is inevitable, and sometimes detrimental, it can also be something that brings new chances and attitude determines the final outcome of the experience. This is a great read for those small business owners who are already invested into their brand, and may be more than a little stressed about the near horizon.
7. Switch by Chip and Dan Heath
Switch is another book for small business owners in the same vein as Who Moved My Cheese. Focusing on how behaviors of the owner affects actions on the business level, Switch teaches readers how businesses, while slower to steer towards change can be piloted towards the future, if you know what you’re doing. Another key lesson from Switch is the concept of considering why you are taking actions (or not) within your own business, and having the foresight to honestly assess the situation and the choice.
6. Built to Last by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras
Based off what could be considered a cohort study of companies for over six years, Built to Last focuses on why some companies flourish while others fail, all with observations from day zero of the companies themselves. This book is great for those small business owners who feel they have a large mountain to climb without much support. Built to Last offers these owners a way to rope up the slopes, and avoid reinventing strategies. This can be a great kickstarter read, and you can take plenty of ideas from the companies both in and outside of your sector.
5. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
A book often read by leaders of countries and armies, The Prince by Machiavelli offers a look at how sometimes, politics and business never change. At over 500 years old, this document demonstrates what can often be so wrong with business practices (particularly those of an immoral nature) that aim to do so much right. While useful as a book chronicling how to make yourself as an essential service (or leader), one should continue to take caution in reading this book. After all, the derogatory term “Machiavellian” did have its origins as a result of this text. Often considered a “teacher of evil” by modern scholars, the author of this book shows the humanity in business, both the good and the ugly sides, and how to be both the hero and villain.
4. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
With over 25 million copies of this book sold, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is likely on nearly every small business library shelf. Marketed originally as a self help book, this text delivers a thesis on what Stephen Covey calls the Character Ethic as opposed to the popular and “shinier” Personality Ethic. He does so by dividing 7 guiding principles into three broad categories, Independence, Interdependence and Continuous Improvement. With such concepts as “Start with the end in mind” and the idea that problems should be addressed and mitigated before they come to full fruition, many other texts on this list take a page from this book as a small business essential.
3. Every Family’s Business by Tom Deans
With the concept that business should stay in the family, and that family is indeed the business, one may think that Tom Deans has watched The Godfather a little too many times. However, as a successful business advisor and wealth protection strategist, he shows within the book that if passing down your business is part of your exit strategy, it’s true that the two cannot be separated to any measurable degree. The biggest take away from this book is the idea of a Market Justice approach to leaving: It’s not about who is given the business in the family, but who has bought it. This ensures not only business harmony in terms of wealth integrity, but also a more stable and arguably fairer approach to passing down a legacy.
2. Speak and Get Results by Sandy Linver
If we’re honest, a vast majority of us can admit one simple fact: We all hate the pitch. Whether it was for a school project, or a business plan, or showing off your new product to potential investors, speaking can sometimes seem absolutely unbearable and at best an uncertain endeavor. But what if we could tip the cards in our favor? In Sandy Livnver’s Speak and Get Results, readers are given an inside track on how to not only speak like a natural presenter, but to convince your audience to be invested, whether that be mentally or financially. Given the nature of small business, this is an incredibly handy skill and thus makes this book number 2 on the list of essential small business reads.
1. Virtual Freedom by Chris Ducker
Somewhat a surprise for this year, Virtual Freedom written by Chris Ducker, a “virtual” CEO and king of outsourcing makes the number one spot. Focusing on the fallacy that a leader can do everything (not everyone can be the IT guy, the Manager, and the Designer, after all), Virtual Freedom focuses on the need to make an enterprise a team project, so that scalability and survival are ensured. Useful to both mom and pop shops and new internet based startups, this should hit every small business owner’s shelf in 2017.