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What business book changed the way you do business or gave you a jump start?

We asked some fellow business owners what business/entrepreneur books they recommend for others to check out. There are a TON of books out there and sometimes you can’t always tell from the cover if it’s going to be a must read. When you’re thinking about going to see a movie, buy a certain product, purchase a new home etc. you like to ask for advice and recommendations before you make that purchase. Why? Because you trust those that you ask and why not ask fellow entrepreneurs their input?

We have not read all of these books (and some we have) but all of them look and sound like they are a must read. Some that we can recommend and love are:

  • “Toilet Paper Entrepreneur” by Mike Michalowicz
  • “Never Get A Real Job” by Scott Gerber
  • “Smarter, Faster, Cheaper” by David Siteman Garland
  • “Power Friending” by Amber Mac
  • “Dirty Little Secrets of Buzz” by David Seaman

“Linchpin” by Seth Godin

“Linchpin’s figure out what to do when there’s no rule book. They delight and challenge their customers and peers. They love their work, pour their best selves into it, and turn each day into a kind of art.”

Recommended by: Jamie Meldrum of Carlton Financial Group

“Purple Cow” by Seth Godin

“Helped me recognize the value of being “remarkable” and having “remarkable products”. Changed my negativity surrounding the overwhelming component of a new business – effective marketing on a small budget.” Recommended by: Nancy J. Haberstich of nanobugs inc. 

“I think the book that has influenced my business the most would have to be Seth Godin’s Purple Cow. Regardless of the industry, business owners or those looking to revolutionize their thinking can greatly benefit from the mind-adjustment that comes from reading this book. Like the title suggest, the book is all about looking at business different and daring to BE different.” Recommended by: JP Jones of Collipsis Web Solutions

Mastering the Rockafeller Habits by Verne Harnish

“This book is small and concise, yet robust in that it incorporates all the best practices for building a great company, in a very user-friendly format. This book goes beyond theory, and truly gives you a toolkit for implementing these best practices, philosophies, methodologies, and measurements into an organization of any size and scope. There are also tools and worksheets available online, so everything you need to start executing upon these ideas, are at your fingertips. This is the book that launched my organization into building a more formal foundation upon which to scale it, and I highly recommend it for any and all entrepreneurs.”

Recommended by: Jessica Browder-Stackpoole of eventpro strategies

“The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It” by Michael Gerber

“It’s an older book that opens your eyes to both the discipline needed to create a viable business as well as the traps that you can fall into. It’s hard to slow down and create detailed plans when you are excited about getting an idea off the ground. This book will help you understand why planning and systems are so essential from the start.” Recommended by: Chris Tobias of School Skills

“An absolute basic building block for growing a small business is understanding the difference in mindset between that of an employee and a successful business owner. The book helped bring to light why I had seen other small business owners fail in the first year and it was inspiring, but more importantly it gave me the focus I needed to give priority to revenue generating activities (even those I did not like to do) and outsource some of the day to day tasks that while I enjoyed doing them were not going to help me grow my business. This book provided focus and clarity for me, which in turn has helped guide me and simplify the decisions I need to make daily and progress my business forward.” Recommended by: Niki Pfeiffer of Niki Pfeiffer Design LLC

“The author explains step by step the correct way to turn a passion or hobby into a successful business. Each time I read this book I get even more insight into proper way to run a business.” Recommended by: Sherrie Tennessee of Sherrie Tennessee Consulting

“Michael illustrates how and why business owners need to approach their businesses in a way that will allow them to work ON their business rather than IN their business. It¹s something we all hear, but his stories show how we can do that easily, and the challenges we face if we do not do so.” Recommended by: Katie Gutierrez Miller of Assistant Match

“The New Rules of Marketing and PR” by David Meerman Scott

“The reason this book holds such great value is that it makes your realize the power of public relations and word of mouth on the internet. Most companies think they have to spend big money on advertising to get their business going. This book explains how to get people talking about your product or service, on and off the web. A great money saver which is what you need when starting a business.”

Recommended by: Frank DeBlasi of Hoopla Doopla, Inc. 

“Delivering Happiness” by Tony Hsieh

“As a young entrepreneur running and growing a small company into a larger company it’s amazing to hear the behind the scenes story of how Tony Hsieh of Zappos did it. I’ve known about Zappos for many years because I would see Zappos shoe boxes at home and would be asked by my lovely wife to ship them back to Zappos. She always got them so fast and returned a ton of them—I didn’t get it, but I knew she did because the boxes/shoes kept coming. I’ve been an entrepreneur my entire life and it was great to hear Tony’s stories from when he was a kid starting a worm farm or selling hamburgers in collage. Zappos went through a lot to get where they are today, but it was an amazing ride and extremely fun to read about. I learned a lot about applying what Zappos has done successfully in their business and how to apply those lessons in our business. The book really rings true to its title; after reading the book I’ve literally given (or delivered) it to hundreds of people to read or listen too. Delivering Happiness is a “top 3″ business book in my library!”

Recommended by: Ryan Moor of Ryonet

“How to Swim with the Sharks Without Getting Eaten Alive!” by Harvey McKay

“It’s told in easy to relate to stories and each contains a golden nugget. I read this almost 20 years ago and it still helps me today.”

Recommended by: Michael Bremmer of National Communications Inc.

“The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries 

“Very few business books are actually applicable to businesses of all sizes – from startup to enterprise. Ries teaches you how to measure and achieve actual progress instead of watching vanity metrics.” Recommended by: David Friedman of Inhabi

“This book is the absolutely the best book about how to take an idea and turn it into a viable business. Ries provides a rigorous methodology for figuring out what your customers actually want and building your business around your customers, rather than your product. It’s remarkable in that it’s easy and fun to read yet is revolutionary in how it changes the way you think about your business.” Recommended by: Michael Kaiser-Nyman of Impact Dialing 

“Go-Giver” by Bob Burg

“This book changed everything for me. It is about the 5 Laws of Stratospheric Success and how to apply them to your situation. It is about giving, not taking.”

Recommended by: Dave Forman of Pour Masters Bartending Service

“Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki

“This book is my first pick  for any entrepreneur, or anyone looking to understand money beyond what  is taught in schools. It has completely changed the way I view and handle money, and my business and investments have grown significantly since reading it. The way the book helps the reader understand the difference between sources of income opens up a whole new way of thinking about money.”

Recommended by: Bill Arning of Arning Lawns

“Four Steps to the Epiphany” by Steve Blank

“This book formed the core of my thinking as I left finance and launched my own tech startup. There were a huge number of unknowns ahead of me, and the book provided an excellent, systematic method of solving those and answering necessary questions. The truth is, it continually influences what we do with Tutorspree, impacting decisions on what we build, how we build it, and how we approach our customers.”

Recommended by: Aaron K. Harris of Tutorspree

“First, Break All The Rules” by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman

“This book made a huge impact on how I manage my staff of 10 as well as manage my expectations for the performance of each employee. It was extremely eye-opening.”

Recommended by: Andrew Schwartz of Schwartz & Schwartz, P.C.

“Your Idea, Inc.” by Sandy Abrams

“This book was a tremendous resource for me as I started Apifeni. Unlike a lot of business books, there is a focus on product development which is really helpful. Sandy’s advice with regard to trade shows still guides me today! It’s easy to understand and perfect for the would-be entrepreneur without an MBA.”

Recommended by: Danielle Dobin of Apifeni Activewer

“Founders At Work” by Jessica Livingston

“The in-depth interviews with founders of revolutionary companies is both inspiring and humanizing. You can’t help but be inspired by the things these people accomplished – most of them have left a major impact on the world. It finally put a human touch on the mythic stories we tell about companies – the things that went wrong, the mistakes, the time they almost lost the company. That side of the story is never included in the PR message, but as an entrepreneur it helps to know everyone the greatest entrepreneurs were/are as dysfunctional as you feel.”

Recommended by: Kevin Ohashi

“Art of the Start” by Guy Kawasaki 

“It’s a quick read, and gives a no-nonsense set of recommendations for how and why to start a company. I think it has some room for improvement, but overall, it was really helpful in us getting our heads around “making meaning” in the world instead of just launching a product.”

Recommended by: Bryan Pate of ElliptiGO Inc.

“The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield

“I recommend this book because it talks about a force of nature that all entrepreneurs must face and master. That force is called Resistance. It encompasses everything–internal and external–that might prevent us from moving forward. That includes all forms of self-sabotage and even the way other people might intentionally or unintentionally try to prevent us from doing our work and getting our goals.”

Recommended by: Adam C. Dudley of LocationLiberated.com

“The 4 Hour Work Week” by Timothy Ferris

“I run a product based business and what I learned from the book is about getting your business to a point that you can run it from anywhere and spend less time doing it. I did exactly that and now have distributors around the world selling for me. I can technically work from anywhere and spend 4 hours a week doing it….okay maybe not 4 hours yet, but I’m getting there. The book is great inspiration for entrepreneurs who want to semi retire someday and Timothy lays it out in easy to understand steps.”

Recommended by: Julie Austin of swiggies

“Anything You Want” by Derek Sivers

“A phenomenal book on success and building a great company for entrepreneurs.”

Recommended by: Nick Francis of Brightwurks.com

“Double Double” by Cameron Herold

“Cameron has direct experience and shares exactly how he built some amazing businesses including the worldwide brand of 1-800-GOT-JUNK? There have been many items that we have used immediately in our business and with great immediately positive results. We love his ideas like the Painted Picture to explain exactly where we would like to be in the next 3, 5, and 10 years. It is so easy to hand out to our team, customers, and vendors. Another game changer for us is the “Can You Imagine” wall. We are in the middle of the design process for our current expansion and we actually changed the architecture plans to build our own “Can You Imagine Dancing…” wall.”

Recommended by: Lee Prosenjak of Cherry Creek Dance

“How to Market to People Not Like You” by Kelly McDonald

“This book has been an incredible asset to us as we have looked at how we increase our user base. While we have a full multi-media staff who are great at producing marketing materials, this book has helped us look at other ways to reach our population as well as provided new ideas for additional ways to market ourselves. We have seen an increase in our population usage of our tools and interest in our programs has increased.”

Recommended by: Cliff Bohaker of American Heart Associaton

“RIDE Like a PENGUIN” by Nicole Donnelly

“The book lays out from beginning to end the steps to be a successful entrepreneur and really live your business so that others may catch your enthusiasm and support your products. The book offers heartfelt and practical advice and I would recommend it to anyone starting out as a way to build passion for your business.”

Recommended by: Kathy Pickus of Dot Girl Products

“Rework” by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hanson

“This book is a short read, composed of brief tips and reminders that are great for the solo entrepreneur or small team. It provides good advice about how to handle competition, thoughts about planning (or not planning), and gives reassurance that it’s okay to release a product that’s not everything you dream of it being. Just get it out there, and grow it along the way!”

Recommended by Mac Martine of Evergreen 

“Evil Plans Having Fun on the Road to World Domination” by Hugh MacLeod

“This is a very fun and quick read. I read it in its entirety on a 2 hour flight to Chicago. It’s great for the budding entrepreneur who hasn’t taken the leap yet. It’s encouraging that your brilliant idea that you’ve been too afraid to try thus far will actually succeed; you just need to try. Hugh adds lots of cartoon pictures and wonderful insights into life in general.”

Recommended by: Erin Meagher of Kelapo.com

“Launch” by Michael Stelzner

“It is full of brilliant ideas to create compelling content for your website and blog as well as great strategies to successfully push that content out into the social media world for exposure and brand awareness.”

Recommended by: Christy Cook of Teach My

“Make a Name for Yourself: 8 Steps Every Woman Needs to Create a Personal Brand Strategy For Success” by Robin Fisher Roffer

“Being the owner of your personal brand is critical in business. I partnered with my parents in our business when I graduated from college and this book really helped me, as it says, create a name for myself. There are a lot of actionable pieces of insight within it that apply to men and women (even though the book is addressed to a woman). Many of our team members now do the exercises and I also suggest the book to some of our blogger hosting clients who are just starting out.”

Recommended by: Jennifer Donogh of Ovaleye, LLC

“How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie 

“Absolutely, without a doubt: How to Win Friends and Influence People, the Dale Carnegie classic. While it has a furtive title, the book is warm, compassionate, and shines light on the art of building healthy productive business relationships for many of us younger people who have grown up on computers and social media.”

Recommended by: Marc Brodeur of Brode

“Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson 

“This book  instructs us how not to behave with your associates and employees while simultaneously encouraging the search for excellence in one’s own product offering. The task of the reader is to determine where to draw the line on that road to excellence: most managers with a modicum of self-awareness know that the humiliation and berating of employees goes too far, yet Jobs’ lust to change the world for the better is in and of itself Inspiration at its best. Nobody can read this book and not look at his or her products or services with fresh and refined judgment.”

Recommended by: Bill Du Val of Du Val Business Law

“The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur” by Mike Michalowicz

“This book is incredibly applicable to any small business, it’s motivating and it’s very easy to read. The author does a great job hammering out details for you so you can implement them asap.  I find that a lot of business books are too full of “strategies” and not enough practical, how to actually do things. This book breaks that down. I recommend it to any small business owner or aspiring entrepreneur I connect with. It also works as a litmus test, if the person is still just “planning” their business in six months I know they aren’t cut out for the lifestyle. And if the person doesn’t even finish the book… well, I *really* know they aren’t cut out to be a leader.”

Recommended by: Amie Marse of Content Equals Money

“Growing Your Business” by Mark LeBlanc

“This book is a short (77 page) book that you can read in an hour that any business owner can use to jump start a business (or revive one). Mark’s practical approach helped give me a laser like focus on the actions I can take to be successful.”

Recommended by: Diane Windingland of Small Talk BIG Results

“Good to Great” by Jim Collins

“Good To Great is a must read for any entrepreneur or CEO. It reminds every reader that the most effective leaders are humble and that leaders of great companies don’t start with “where” but with “who.” They start by getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats. Once you have the right people in the right seats, the journey doesn’t matter…you’ll succeed.”

Recommended by: William R. Simon, Jr of San Diego Law Firm

“Blue Ocean Strategy” by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne

“I have watched this book change students’ thinking about what they are planning to offer to the marketplace. Most students start with “red ocean” ideas — a close copy to what’s already out there, such that if they actually go out to sell their product/service, they will quickly find themselves competing on price — not a good place to be in this world! Blue Ocean Strategy challenges them to look across traditional market boundaries and find new opportunities.”

Recommended by: Dr. Karen Evans of Undergraduate Management Programs at Lawrence Technological University

“Chocolate Wars, The 150 Year Rivalry Between the World’s Greatest Chocolate Makers” by Deborah Cadbury

“This book is just a phenomenal read. It’s so more than a book on chocolate…it’s a book on the fundamental ethics of how to do business that promotes well being in the world. Business is not just about making money. It’s about making money, but it’s more than that. It’s about using money and business as a means toward happiness and fulfillment for not just the entrepreneur, but for everyone the entrepreneur comes into contact with via his business. So inspiring!!”

Recommended by: Craig Wolfe of CelebriDucks

What book have you read and would recommend other business owners to check out?

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