10 Books to Read for Small Business Owners

Books, camera and artwork arranged on wooden bookshelves

Running a small business can be a challenge, but there are plenty of books out there to help you start a business, organise and set goals, understand budgeting, marketing and promotion and just be generally business savvy.

Business books don’t have to be tedious; there are a lot of engaging books out there to choose from, so why not relax, unwind and learn some valuable business skills

With a mixture of classics and modern bestsellers; we’ve compiled a list of engaging reads for every stage and type of business.

1 - Escape from Cubicle Nation: From Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur’ by Pamela Slim (2010)

Do you feel wasted at your 9-5 corporate job? You’re not alone, and it’s within your power to change it.

Pamela dropped her corporate job and never looked back. This book explores the emotions and personal challenges she faced upon leaving her full time job, as well as tips on the first stages of starting your own business.

Funny and filled with encouraging advice, this book shows you it’s never too late to get out of an unfulfilling way of life, and gives you the practical tips to make the most of it.

2 - Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months’ by Melinda F. Emerson (2010)

This is the book for people who hate their job and need some pointers on self-employment, Become Your Own Boss is a great first step when starting your own small business.

Melinda Emerson ‘got her dream job and hated it’ - an unfortunate reality lots of people face, but her response was to adapt her skills as a television producer toward starting her own video production company.

Enjoy each step of the journey to becoming your own boss with Emerson’s clear, practical advice on what to do each month of the year leading up to becoming self-employed and running your first small business.

3 - ‘Lucky or Smart?: Fifty Pages for the First-Time Entrepreneur’ by Bo Peabody (2008)

Who better to look to for inspiration than the man who became a multi-millionaire at 27? Bo Peabody (founder of one of the earliest dot coms - Tripod.com) offers an insight into what he believes is the recipe for entrepreneurial success.

Bo explains that success is a balance of both luck and intelligence, but that really successful entrepreneurs use their intelligence to turn luck to their advantage.

The best thing about this short book is the lesson Bo offers in the value of being gracious and humble at every stage of your business career.

If he can do it, why not you?

4 - Entrepreneur Revolution: How to Develop Your Entrepreneurial Mindset and Start a Business That Works’ by Daniel Priestley (2013)

This book marks the movement away from the industrial, corporate ‘past’ into a shiny new future for ‘fast–moving start–ups, ambitious small businesses and technological innovators’.

Unlike a lot of books for small businesses, this one does not give you a step-by-step business plan; instead, Daniel delivers lifestyle tips and advice on how to change your mindset for entrepreneurial success.

Touching and inspirational, this book shows that success - and happiness - begins in the mind.

5 - ‘Will It Fly?’ by Thomas K. McKnight (2003)

Coming up with your own business idea is an amazing achievement, but you need to make sure you have a watertight plan before you spend time and money on something that might not succeed.

Will It Fly gives clear, transferrable advice for developing your business idea and working out if it will be a profitable endeavour.

Use this book to evaluate your business idea in just 20 minutes, as well as address any obstacles to overcome before your launch and decide whether to run with the original or focus your energy elsewhere.

6 - ‘Millionaire Marketing on a Shoestring Budget’ by Debra Jason (2015)

Great marketing is a must for your business, and this book shows it doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive.

Debra Jason’s aim is to teach ‘How to attract a steady stream of happy clients, make more money and live your dream’, Millionaire Marketing explains how you don’t need to start off with massive amounts (or any) capital to really tackle marketing for your own small business.

Packed with great tips on everything from finding referrals while at home in your pyjamas to fun, cheap ways to market yourself. This book is an easy-to-follow guide on necessary digital marketing steps that don’t cost the earth.

7 - ‘The Ultimate Small Business Marketing Book’ by Dee Blick (2011)

Following on in the theme of marketing: it’s a fundamental part of any business, big or small.

This book is packed with tons of tips, infographics and case studies to help you plan and implement a fresh marketing scheme for your small business, as well as identify where improvements can be made on your current plan.

With over 27 years of marketing experience Sussex-based Dee avoids the business jargon and delivers clear, practical advice that’s easy to read and unpatronising - a must for first time business owners.

8 - ‘Business Adventures’ by John Brooks (1969)

This classic book explores significant business and financial events with a humorous edge and a touch of wisdom for those at all stages of business.

John Brooks focuses on pivotal moments in the history of renowned businesses, such as the notorious Edsel blunder by Ford, and offers cautionary advice for how to avoid similar blunders on any level of business.

Not only is this book lauded as a favourite of Bill Gates, but it contains advice that still resonates half a century later, and it’s encouraging to read that even business giants can suffer big losses and come back stronger.

9 - ‘How to Style Your Brand’ by Fiona Humberstone (2015)

Branding is all about finding exciting ways to communicate what makes your business special. You need to have a clear idea about what your company is all about: it’s not just about what you sell, but the feeling that comes with it.

Fiona’s bestselling book offers clear, practical advice on how to design each level of your brand with intent.

The great thing about this book is its simple approach to explaining how to convey feelings through design. For example, if you want your brand to emanate cosy, creative vibes, Fiona gives detailed suggestions for the types of colours, fonts and imagery you can use to communicate this through design.

Fiona’s simple process for defining your brand can apply to any business model, big or small. Take a look at Create’s original review of How to Style Your Brand and interview with Fiona Humberstone.

10 - ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ by Stephen R. Covey (1989)

Although not strictly a business advice book, ‘7 Habits’ is a fantastic read for any professional looking to fine tune their habits and achieve their goals.

Having sold over 25 million copies worldwide, this is a self-help book with an edge. Its main aim is to shift your perspective and realign motivation to get as much satisfaction out of life as possible.

Applying the principles of ‘7 Habits’ to your idea for a small business will improve your productivity and create structure to your plans. Keeping an end goal in mind is an important part of the process when developing your own business: it means you can motivate yourself and stay focussed when times are tough.

Woman sits with a book on a bed 

Have you read any of our top 10 books for small businesses? Do you have any other great book suggestions for budding entrepreneurs? Let us know in the comments below.

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