Have you ever noticed that the most successful people you know are also the most well-read? It’s no coincidence. A study of 1,200 wealthy people found that every single one of them had one thing in common: they read — a lot. Arguably the most successful people in the world, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Oprah Winfrey all commit to reading daily.
But it’s not just the act of reading that’s important — it’s what you read. Sitting down to read novels or magazines might be entertaining, but they’re not necessarily the most impactful, especially for business owners with limited free time. As a small business owner or entrepreneur, learning how to do more with less is key to your success, which can mean learning from non-fiction books written by those who’ve already been in the trenches.
To find out which books to add to your Kindle queue, Seek Capital spoke with 10 business owners to find out exactly which books entrepreneurs like you should be reading next. So find a comfy spot, grab a cup of coffee and settle into your next great book.
1. “Making Minutes Matter” by Mary Kutheis
“If you are a busy business owner like I am, you really need to work through priorities and make every hour of your day matter,” said Steve Turner, principal of Solomon Turner PR. “The book goes into depth about how to avoid distractions and work at the items that are most important to you. Kutheis is a trainer and coach to executives, and she has a proven process for putting together a game plan to get more done in the office and feel more content and energized. It goes way beyond your typical book on time management. In addition, she talks about the contentment part of your work. If you are harried and constantly on-edge at work, you have a tendency to bring that poor temperament home. The at-work craziness can have a negative effect on your family and even your friends. It was motivating to learn how to develop a plan to make sure you stay on track, accomplish more, and leave the tensions of the job in the office.”
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2. “Nice Girls DO Get the Sale” by Elinor Stutz
“I dreaded making [sales] calls … until I read [this] book,” said Josephine Geraci, founder and president of My Mom Knows Best Inc., which makes gLovies. “My sales increased immediately after following Ms. Stutz’s great advice in her book. [There’s] one in particular … that sticks with me every time I make a call; Ms. Stutz teaches us to gather information from the potential customer by asking them to almost define their own problems. Once you actually know your customer’s problems, you can go about trying to solve them.”
3. “The Power of Broke” by Daymond John
“At that time [of reading this book], I was feeling like a lack of resources and capital and a string of failures in my business were going to cause my business to fail,” said Jacob Landis-Eigsti, owner of Jacob LE Video Production. “This book tells the story of many entrepreneurs who succeeded because they had limited resources, not in spite of it. Their limited capital required the business owner to think creatively, to hustle, and to use every dollar in an intelligent way. The book made me realize that I was failing because I thought I didn’t have enough resources, but my mindset was what was holding me back. Since then, I’ve been motivated to succeed with limited resources and my business income has tripled this year.”
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4. “The Psychology of Selling” by Brian Tracy
“The key to good businesses is good sales techniques. If you are a young entrepreneur and need to learn the psychology of selling, then this is the best book for you,” Jeremy Ong, founder of HUSTLR, a blog for entrepreneurs. “This book helped me increase the conversion rate of my business. It not only describes how to sell the product but you also have to sell yourself and your ideas. This book is a series of strategies, techniques, methods, and ideas that you can use immediately to make more sales, easier than before.”
5. “You Are a Badass at Making Money” by Jen Sincero
“[This book] has greatly helped me in my small business,” said Becky Beach, eCommerce Owner and Business blogger at MomBeach.com. “It is about mastering the money mindset so that you can start earning more money. Before, I would charge super low prices on my items in hopes that customers would purchase them more. That didn’t happen because the customers thought the items were cheap due to low quality. Since reading Jen Sincero’s book, I have raised my store’s prices and thus, boosted sales. It has been great!”
6. “The 4-Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferriss
“I read this book at a young age and it resulted in a paradigm shift,” said Sean Pour, co-founder of SellMax, a nationwide car buying service. “As a business owner, it puts things into perspective and shows you what is truly possible. I think most people are brought up to believe that you need to work extremely strenuous hours, to get by and then retire. But, this book shows you that if you pick the right team and outsource right, you can have the best of both worlds. You can travel, take time off, and run a successful business all at once.”
7. “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie
“When it comes to business the number one thing to realize, in my opinion, is that it’s all about people,” said Chane Steiner, CEO of Crediful. “Business mirrors life in subtle ways and we live in a world full of people, so naturally business has everything to do with communicating to the other members of society … [This] book is all about communicating to people in such a way that they naturally and sincerely want to listen to what you have to offer … The book teaches you how to genuinely make people know, like, and/or trust you. It highlights how to handle people in a genuine and honest manner, along with teaching you that the best way for people to listen to you is to express genuine interest in them and what they find important.”
8. “The Startup Owner’s Manual” by Steve Blank and Bob Dorf
“[This book] is a must-read for CEOs that want to achieve rapid growth while building a strong company. Steve Blank and Bob Dorf focus on how passion and innovation can power a startup’s success while presenting specific best practices, lessons, and tips for anyone in the startup world,” said William Griggs, CEO of Virtual Reality Rental.co. ”This holistic view of entrepreneurship allowed me to think about my business in a new way and helped me connect the dots that would eventually lead to our success. The authors pedigree as a thought leader on innovation also drew me to the book combined the fact that he didn’t let a publishing company water down his real-world advice.”
9. “Not Your Average Cup of Joe” by Joseph Braithwaite
“I have often recommended this book to people who feel stuck, not knowing what to do, not having accomplished their goals,” said Tracy Lamourie, CEO of Lamourie Public Relations. “I find this book helps people to find the motivation needed to succeed — it lets them know that yes, they do have what it takes! [It] is a great read for anyone looking to make a change in their lives — and makes a great gift for anyone who might need a little inspiration and a push forward.”
10. “The Introvert’s Edge: How the Quiet and Shy Can Outsell Anyone” by Matthew Pollard
“When I launched my leadership coaching business, I was surprised to find that many of my coaching clients were just as introverted as my former rocket scientist employees had been,” said Mary Ottman, Certified Leadership Coach, MO Leadership Collective. “This book is a fantastic resource for business people and entrepreneurs who are uncomfortable with the sales process and need concrete tools and tips to be successful at sales, as taught by an introvert who has done it himself.”
The Bottom Line
If you haven’t already figured it out, there’s a huge overlap of passionate entrepreneurs with ferocious readers. While some prefer to learn things first hand, many business owners choose to learn from the insights (and mistakes) of others, and according to these business owners, it’s paid off.
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