Top 10 Books for Small Business Owners

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Ten Good Reads to Help Drive Personal and Professional Growth

Continuous learning and ongoing education is something that can drive your personal and professional growth as a business owner, CEO, or executive.

Kevin Lynch, on the Corporate Responsibility Association, wrote, “This concept of lifelong learning – the continuous process of acquiring knowledge and incorporating this knowledge into one’s personal, social, and work life – has become an ideal in today’s world.”

So how can you keep up with a busy work life and find time to sharpen your personal and professional mindset? With a book or two. Or three, or four. reports that, on average, CEOS of Fortune 500 companies will read four to five books a month. In a survey conducted with executives as participants found, “A very large common denominator shared by executives who feel they are not achieving the level of success they feel capable of is that many of them are ‘too busy to keep up with their reading.’”

As a business owner, you know the definition of busy. So you might be wondering how you will find time to read amongst the many other tasks you have on your to-do list. But, as you have just seen, reading doesn’t have to be a burden; something that takes away from you performing your day-to-day business needs. In fact, they will often help generate greater ideas and, ultimately, help you become a better leader.

Business books often cover a range of topics – from marketing to overcoming small business pitfalls to inspirational stories – all with the goal of providing small business owners with proven advice to help them in their business ventures.

Direct Capital put together a list of ten books you don’t want to go without:

1. Motivational: Ride Like a Penguin by Nicole Donnelly.

If you’re ever feeling overwhelmed by the everyday stresses of being a business owner, this is a good book to have in your library. Donnelly has founded two successful businesses and speaks on coping with the ups and the downs. A reviewer on – who is also a business owner, writes of the book, “If you are an entrepreneur this is a must read. Nicole shares with you her story, insights, and philosophies with a mix of inspiring examples.”

2. Professional and Personal Advice: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.

In his book, Covey brings forth seven principles that pave the way for living with fairness, integrity, honesty, and human dignity. In your profession, you know how important those are to running a successful business. In addition, writes, “[These are] principles that give us the security to adapt to change and the wisdom and power to take advantage of the opportunities that change creates.”

The seven principles are:

  • Be Proactive
  • Begin with the End in Mind
  • Put First Things First
  • Think Win-Win
  • Seek First to Understand, then to be Understood
  • Synergize
  • Sharpen the Saw

3. Seeking Change in Your Business: Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh

The end goal for a business is, of course, to increase revenue month-to-month, year-to-year. Hsieh explains that the way to do this – the way to achieve extraordinary results – is to create a company culture that values happiness and delivers on it. So, if you’re looking for a different kind of corporate culture to achieve your success, this book is a good starting point.

4. Lessons on “Standing Out” Among Your Competition: Ignore Everybody: And 39 Other Keys to Creativity by Hugh MacLeod

In the business world, it can be hard to develop new, creative ideas that set you apart from the competition. MacLeod has tips and advice that are difficult to ignore. Here’s one of his tips, “Don’t try to stand out from the crowd; avoid the crowds altogether: There’s no point trying to do the same thing as 250,000 other young hopefuls, waiting for a miracle. All existing business models are wrong. Find a new one.” His key message? Creativity. Embrace it, and this book.

5. Increasing Business Growth: Mastering the Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish

The subtitle gives away everything you’ll learn from Harnish: What You Must do to Increase the Value of Your Fast-Growth Firm. In this book, he lays out a solid, proven approach to strategic business planning (there’s even a chapter on tactics to get a bank to finance your business!) and a guide to determining the most critical thing you need to deliver in the next 90 days.

6. New-Age Marketing Tips: The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott

Scott writes on his website of this book, “Learn new tools and techniques to communicate with buyers directly, raise online visibility, and increase sales.” He does this by looking at popular tools online – infographics, photo-sharing, delivering expanded information, etc. – and showcases organizations in which these tactics have worked successfully. Read this book and you’ll feel confident marketing any product, service, or idea to your customers.

7. Making Philanthropy Part of Your Business: The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John D. Mann

The authors tell a story about why giving in your business is more powerful, and means so much more, than taking. They touch upon the Five Laws of Stratospheric Success which are the laws of Value, Compensation, Influence, Authenticity, and Receptivity. Each of these laws are centered around the idea that your worth is determined by how much you give to others. Philanthropy can be a central part of a successful business, and this book will tell you how.

8. Tips on Managing Your Employees: First, Break All The Rules by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffmann

An article on says it best: “Great employees are not replaceable.” As a business owner, you probably know that to be true which means you don’t want to lose the great employees that you do have. In their book, Buckingham and Coffmann explore the challenges many companies face – achieving, keeping, and measuring employee satisfaction – and help you discover how to attract, hire, train, and keep your most talented and promising employees.

9. Ideas on Embracing Every Work Day: Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day by Todd Henry

You spend your work days running around trying to get a million things done and you may often feel as though nothing was accomplished. But there’s always tomorrow, right? Well, yes and no. Henry addresses this point with the hard truth – that all of our tomorrows will eventually run out and you want to make all of your days significant. Amazon writes, “Henry shows how to cultivate the mindset and the methods you need to sustain your enthusiasm, push through mental barriers, and unleash your best work each day.”

10. Going from Good to Great: Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Others Don’t by Jim Collins

Being great is something every business strives for, so how do you make sure your company is one of the businesses that are considered great? It will take some doing, but the tips in Collins’ book will surely help. Collins and his research team studied 6,000 articles, compiled 2,000 pages of interview transcripts, and created 384 megabytes of computer data over five years.

The seven characteristics he found of companies that went from good to great are:

  • Level 5 Leadership
  • First who, then what
  • Confront the brutal facts
  • Hedgehog concept
  • Culture of discipline
  • Technology accelerators
  • The flywheel

Want to find out what those mean and exactly how it will help your business go from good to great? You’ll have to pick up a copy of this book!

With Christmas only two days away, and Hanukkah ending tomorrow night, now is the time to pick up one of these books for the business owner in your life, or treat yourself to a gift! Want more tips for your small business? Check out Direct Capital’s website!