The 5 Books Every Small Business Owner Should Read

There is a wide range of excellent books written by small business experts and thought leaders who share actionable advice and tips on how to grow a business, how to become a better leader, and how to survive life as an entrepreneur.

We’ve scoured the web and consulted dozens of top book lists and come up with five books you should read as a small business owner.

1. Teaming: How Organizations Learn, Innovate, and Compete in the Knowledge Economy

Author: Amy C. Edmondson

Who should read it: Anyone who wants to foster high-performing teams

In this book, Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson introduces the concept of “teaming”—actively building and developing teams even as a project is in process, while realizing that a team’s composition may change at any given moment. “Teaming is a verb. It is a dynamic activity, not a bounded, static entity,” says Edmondson.

Rarely do new teams have the luxury of time to help them gel as a cohesive and productive group of people. Edmondson provides simple tips to help bring high-performing teams together quickly, such as: (1) Focus on learning, rather than results; (2) Make sure your team is a place of psychological safety; and (3) Make sure team members know why their work matters.

2. Virtual Freedom
Author: Chris Ducker

Who should read it: Any business owner suffering from “superhero syndrome”

Many entrepreneurs cite freedom — freedom from working for someone else or from being a cog in the corporate wheel, for example — as one of the main motivators for starting their own business. That freedom, however, often comes with a heavy price in terms of the sheer weight of responsibility and effort required to run your own business. And it can be hard to know exactly how and when to relinquish some of that control and effectively hand if off to someone else.

That’s where outsourcing expert and ”Virtual CEO,” Chris Ducker can help. His book, Virtual Freedom, helps small business owners access the resources they need with any budget. According to Ducker, the process starts by identifying a list of tasks that fulfill three different criteria: (1) The things you really don’t like doing; (2) The things you shouldn’t be doing; and (3) The things you’re not good at anyway. The book provides helpful tips for hiring, training, and managing virtual assistants to help support and grow your business.

3. The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It

Author: Michael E. Gerber

Who should read it: Anyone considering starting a small business

“E-Myth” is short for entrepreneurial myth, which Gerber defines as: (1) The myth that most people who start small businesses are entrepreneurs; and (2) The fatal assumption that an individual who understands the technical work of a business can successfully run a business that does that technical work.

The E-Myth Revisited is actually a followup to Gerber’s first book, The E-Myth, which was a step-by-step chronology of the business-building process. This revised and updated edition points out how common assumptions, expectations, and even technical expertise can get in the way of running a successful business.

The book is lauded as a prerequisite small-business primer. In it, Gerber outlines three roles that each new business owner should plan on assuming if he or she is going to be successful and also traces a business’ typical lifespan, from inception to full-fledged establishment and success.

4. Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business

Author: Gino Wickman

Who should read it: Any business owner on the brink

This book offers an easy-to-follow strategy to help entrepreneurs regain control of a business threatened by common challenges such as burnout, people problems, money issues, and stalled growth. Wickman simply asks, “Do you control your business or does your business control you?”

In response, Wickman offers the “Entrepreneurial Operating System” (EOS) to systematically tackle the inevitable challenges that will threaten to derail a business over time. The six key components of the EOS range fromvision, people and data to issues and process, ultimately culminating in traction which brings discipline and accountability to your company.

5. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

Author: Angela Duckworth

Who should read it: Anyone curious about the secret to success

In this inspiring book, psychologist Angela Duckworth draws on her personal experiences, as well as her years of research and teaching to uncover the true secret of success: a special blend of passion and persistence she calls “grit.”

A few of Duckworth’s most valuable insights in the book include: (1) How grit can be learned, regardless of I.Q. or circumstances; (2) Why any effort you make ultimately counts twice towards your goal; and (3) How lifelong interest is triggered.

While not specifically targeted for entrepreneurs, Duckworth’s insights are highly applicable in all areas of life, including the grit a business-owner needs to survive. Grit describes what goes through your head when you fall down, and how that—not talent or luck—makes all the difference.

Reading is one of the simplest things you can do as a small business owner to grow and gain new skills. It is also immensely reassuring to realize that some of the world’s most successful companies have encountered many of the same issues you have over the years.

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