Top 10 Recommended Business Books

It was Harry S. Truman who said, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”

Top business leaders often quote President Truman's philosophy as one of their keys to success.

As an entrepreneur, you should strive to carve out time to read publications (or listen to audiobooks) that can inform, educate, and inspire. From new laws to new technology to new business growing strategies, there’s always something to learn.

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We looked at dozens of small business books and read reviews from real small business owners. Here are some of the best books we found that may help guide your small business journey as well as help you reach your own personal goals.

Pandemic-focused books

Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World
2020

Fareed Rafiq Zakaria is a journalist, political commentator, and author. He is a CNN® host and writes a weekly paid column for The Washington Post®. He has been a columnist for Newsweek®, editor of Newsweek International®, and an editor at large of Time®.

His book, written as a series of 10 lessons, explores the political, technological, and economic consequences of a post-pandemic society, from government quality to the rise of digital life. Many might find it difficult to think about business beyond the coronavirus disaster. This book encourages you to explore the world that's emerging because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and more crucially how we respond to it.

Shutdown: How COVID Shook the World’s Economy
2021

Adam Tooze focuses on finance and business, setting the pandemic story in a frame that casts a new light on how unprepared the world was to fight the crisis, and how deep the ruptures in our way of living and doing business are. There is no doubt that the virus has significantly impacted the economy.

Per The New York Times® Book Review: "This book's great service is that it challenges us to consider the ways in which our institutions and systems, and the assumptions, positions, and divisions that undergird them, leave us ill prepared for the next crisis."

Marketing

The Marketing Book: A Marketing Plan for Your Business Made Easy via Think / Do / Measure
2021

This book teaches the basics of marketing via the “think / do / measure” method. It will teach you to think like a marketer, to make a marketing plan for your business, and to measure what’s working and what’s not. It will help you to build your brand to increase sales,  through improved marketing.

The Experience Maker
2021

Competition is tougher than ever these days and competing on price or product just doesn't work as well anymore. So how can companies stand out in a crowded marketplace that is constantly evolving?

The Experience Maker helps managers and executives focus on customers who are already spending money with their company rather than spending additional money on marketing to new customers. In The Experience Maker, Dan Gingiss teaches that creating a remarkable experience for customers will ensure they become a company's best marketers and salespeople. By learning from the successes of other companies and applying the proprietary WISER method (Witty, Immersive, Shareable, Extraordinary, Responsive), managers and executives learn to create remarkable experiences that their customers will want to talk about with friends, family, and social media followers.

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Leadership

Leading with Gratitude: Eight Leadership Practices for Extraordinary Business Results
2020

Your employees need to know their work is appreciated. Showing gratitude to employees is one of the easiest, fastest, most inexpensive ways to boost employee performance. New research shows that gratitude boosts employee engagement, reduces turnover, and leads team members to express more gratitude to one another—thereby strengthening team bonds. Studies have also shown that gratitude is beneficial for those expressing it and is one of the most powerful variables in predicting a person’s overall well-being—above money, health, and optimism.

Surrounded by Idiots: The Four Types of Human Behavior and How to Effectively Communicate with Each in Business (and in Life)
2019

Surrounded by Idiots shares a new method of understanding the people around you that will change how you interact with everyone in both your business and personal life.

Erikson breaks down the four kinds of behavior types—Reds who are dominant and commanding, Yellows who are social and optimistic, Greens who are laid back and friendly, and Blues who are analytical and precise—and explains how to identify and interact with each type of person. Instead of being bogged down with overly technical categorizations, the simple four-color system allows you to speedily identify a friend or coworker and adjust how you speak and share with them.

Sales

Sales Management. Simplified: The Straight Truth About Getting Exceptional Results from Your Sales Team
2021

As the title suggests, Sales Management. Simplified. is one of the most straightforward sales management books. The book teaches leaders how to coach salespeople and create a healthy and productive sales culture. This guide gives tips on how to avoid micromanagement and increase accountability among sales staff. Sales Management. Simplified. is full of practical and actionable advice for developing and maintaining strong sales teams that get excellent results.

The Ultimate Sales Machine: Turbocharge Your Business with Relentless Focus on 12 Key Strategies
2021

While most sales guides speak specifically to salespeople, this book is useful for anyone who owns or runs a business. Author Chet Holmes teaches readers effective strategies for gaining new customers and maximizing current clientele, through methods such as time management, training, marketing, and client vetting. The book lays out strategies for coming up with goals and priorities and making good use of time and budget so that sales decisions have the highest possible return on investment. The Ultimate Sales Machine is a playbook of high-impact sales tactics that is useful for organizations of all sizes and industries.

Inspiration

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
2011

Start With Why focuses on the leadership potential of business owners. The author examines the principles of successful leaders to help breakdown how to influence human behavior through manipulation and inspiration, and how each of these strategies differ. Through this approach, Sinek shows how the greatest leaders in history have shared one common starting point: Why they do what they do. The author then illustrates how people care about a leader who starts with WHY and success will come much quicker than when one embarks from WHAT or HOW. Instead, it is more important for a leader to define that reason behind their belief first before being agile enough to adapt as circumstances change.

Shoe Dog
2016

Shoe Dog allows you to learn from the struggles and challenges of Nike’s® early days. Written by co-founder and one time CEO of the global sports apparel maker, the book shares some of the ways and strategies Nike used to get out of tough situations. For instance, you’ll learn that Nike started from very humble beginnings, with Knight even borrowing $50 at one point. But it’s not just about Knight’s success. Instead, the author also provides an inside scoop of Nike’s operations in those early days and emotionally discusses the good and bad decisions they made along the way.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: The SmartBiz® Small Business Blog and other related communications from SmartBiz Loans® are intended to provide general information on relevant topics for managing small businesses. Be aware that this is not a comprehensive analysis of the subject matter covered and is not intended to provide specific recommendations to you or your business with respect to the matters addressed. Please consult legal and financial processionals for further information.

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