Amazon has countless book listings, but have you ever wondered what are the essential business books you should be reading in 2021? If you’re like most small business owners, your free time is limited, so you can’t waste it on dated information and things you already know. Let me make it simple for you, with a list of what I consider to be the essential business books that EVERY small business owner should read.
Essential Business Books to Up Your Game
From marketing to profit to and everything in between, these are essential business books that should be on your shelf if you want to make 2021 your best year yet.
1. Disrupt You, Master Personal Transformation, Seize Opportunity and Thrive in the Era of Endless Innovation by Jay Samit
Jay Samit is a living legend that has disrupted multiple industries. In Disrupt You, the business innovator and digital media expert reveals how to achieve your goals and permanently alter the status quo through the art of self-disruption. In order to change the world, the first thing you need to do is change yourself. In today’s ever-changing and often-volatile business landscape, adaptability and creativity are more crucial than ever. Mr. Samit breaks it down in terms that anyone can understand.
2. Zero DEBT, The Ultimate Guide to Financial Freedom (3rd Edition) by Lynnette Khalfani-Cox
New York Times bestselling author Lynette Khalfani-Cox is a personal finance expert who wrote Zero Debt to give anyone the formula to get their debt under control and build wealth. She wrote Zero Debt about how she once had $100,000 in credit card debt before paying it all off in three years, thus turning her financial life around. Anyone starting out in business could definitely benefit from this advice.
3. Power Your Profits: How to Take Your Business from $10,000 to $10,000,000 by Susie Carder
If you are looking for a comprehensive, bulletproof start-to-finish plan for taking your business from startup to the multi-million-dollar level, Susie Carder has written this book for you. She was at rock bottom financially during the Great Recession of 2008 when she rebuilt her fortune from the ground up. In this book, she teaches others how she did it. She takes what she learned during that difficult time and shares the radical business strategies that have helped countless entrepreneurs and small business owners increase their revenues by more than 3,000%.
4. Accounting for the Numberphobic: A Survival Guide for Small Business Owners by Dawn Fotopulos
Cash is king in business, and the sooner you understand your financials, the better. Accounting for the Numberphobic is an easy-to-follow guide that demystifies your company’s financial dashboard: the net income statement, cash flow statement, and balance sheet. The book explains in plain English how each financial measurement reflects the overall health of your business–and impacts your business decisions. If you have a fear of math, this is the book for you.
5. Profit First: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine by Mike Michalowicz
In Profit First, Mike Michalowicz shows readers how to change the way you are running your business finances. It’s an interesting and different way to approach finances for your business. The author also gives strategies for destroying your debt and taking out profit first to assure you can have financial freedom in the future. Entrepreneurs can use this book to transform their business from a cash eating monster to a profitable cash cow. It’s a game-changing roadmap for any entrepreneur to make money they always dreamed of.
6. 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do: Take Back Your Power, Embrace Change, Face Your Fears, and Train Your Brain for Happiness and Success by Amy Morin
In 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, international bestselling author and psychotherapist Amy Morin shares 13 powerful lessons filled with great wisdom. She highlights astounding stories from many amazing leaders and entrepreneurs. She teaches you how to perceive your problems and people from a different angle and from a more expansive perspective. The book explains how most of us make life harder for ourselves through false perceptions and limiting beliefs based on irrational fears and veils of illusions. The book truly does empower a person to really look beyond internal conflicts and to pursue your dreams and happiness from a different approach.
7. SideHustle Millionaire: How to Build a Side Business that Creates Financial Freedom by Tony Whatley
In Sidehustle Millionaire, author and entrepreneur Tony Whatley shares the mindset, strategies, and steps that helped him create a side hustle business that earned millions. Starting a business may seem like an overwhelming task for a busy professional, but it doesn’t have to be. With proper guidance and execution, your side hustle income may exceed your career salary. The best part is that in today’s digital society, you won’t even have to quit your job to start something that can have a high-earning potential. You can retain that safety net of a career for as long as you wish.
8. The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use Content Marketing, Podcasting, Social Media, AI, Live Video, and Newsjacking to Reach Buyers Directly (7th Edition) by David Meerman Scott
In The New Rules of Marketing & PR, 7th Edition, David Meerman Scott provides the definitive guide on the future of marketing. It has been completely revised and updated for the 2020s. It features a new chapter detailing how to use AI and machine learning in your marketing to automate routine tasks so you can focus on marketing and PR strategy. Your life is already AI-assisted. Your marketing should be too!
9. Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen by Donald Miller
New York Times best-selling author Donald Miller uses the seven universal elements of powerful stories to teach listeners how to dramatically improve how they connect with customers and grow their businesses. Mr. Miller’s StoryBrand process is a proven solution to the struggle business leaders face when talking about their businesses. Building a StoryBrand teaches listeners the seven universal story points all humans respond to, the real reason customers make purchases, how to simplify a brand message, so people understand it, and how to create the most effective messaging for websites, brochures, and social media.
10. The Power Of Habit by Charles Duhigg
In The Power of Habit, Mr. Duhigg gives us an incredible journey into how much habit dominates our lives. It can be a force for good or bad in our lives — and if you want your business to grow, you really need to understand it. This book is a good book to re-read when you are looking for a new direction.
11. Buy Then Build: How Acquisition Entrepreneurs Outsmart the Startup Game by Walker Deibel
In Buy Then Build, seasoned entrepreneur Walker Deibel shows readers how to use an acquisition strategy to begin your entrepreneurial journey by purchasing a sustainable, profitable company with a plan to grow and scale the business. It is your guide to outsmart the startup game, live the entrepreneurial lifestyle, and reap the financial rewards of ownership now.
12. Profitable Podcasting: Grow Your Business, Expand Your Platform, and Build a Nation of True Fans by Stephen Woessner
Profitable Podcasting is an all-inclusive guide navigating you through every step of developing and launching a profitable podcast. Author and CEO Stephen Woessner wants to share with you the secrets he learned in podcasting while building a $2 million venture from scratch. Profitable Podcasting lays out the precise formula Mr. Woessner has learned from experience to be necessary for creating, launching, marketing, and monetizing podcasts in any industry. This book is packed with priceless production help, like how to record and edit like a pro, software recommendations, web and social strategies, schedules, checklists, and how to achieve to rank and secure generous sponsorships. Podcasting is a highly effective marketing channel, and this book will provide a helpful roadmap.
13. Launch: An Internet Millionaire’s Secret Formula To Sell Almost Anything Online, Build A Business You Love, And Live The Life Of Your Dreams by Jeff Walker
I love “secret formulas,” and Jeff Walker’s book did not disappoint. Walker focuses on the idea of a launch, whether that’s launching a new brand or a new product. He shares his own story so that he’s credible and then provides strategies you can apply to your own business. Walker is serious about helping you. He’s even got special resources in addition to what he offers in the book available on his website for people who buy the book.
14. Value Propositions That SELL: Turning Your Message into a Magnet that Attracts Buyers by Lisa Dennis
Lisa Dennis has been working with sales and marketing teams in B2B companies for over 20 years. In Value Proposition that SELL, she cuts through the sales hype language to teach readers how to develop rock-solid, relevant value propositions that will attract and close new customers. You need a whole lot more than an elevator speech, a unique selling proposition, or even the one or two-line statement of value from a seller to a buyer. Her roadmap for a Value Proposition Platform™ helps you create highly relevant, value-based messaging for use in both marketing content and conversations with buyers. Use this book to create a value proposition that SELLS!
15. Predictable Prospecting: How to Radically Increase Your B2B Sales Pipeline by Marylou Tyler
If your company’s success is driven by B2B sales, you need to know how to market effectively to a B2B audience. Marylou Tyler and her co-author have written a game-changing guide that provides immediately-implementable strategies you need to build a solid, sustainable pipeline. If you are marketing your business B2B, you need to have your marketing straight. You’ll appreciate his honest answers and deep experience. It’s not fluff, and you can apply these principles to your own brand.
16. Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters by Dr. Gleb Tsipursky
This is one of the first books to focus on the problem of dangerous judgment errors called cognitive biases in small business settings. The book gives readers pragmatic tools to overcome these mental blind spots effectively via combining practical business case studies with cutting-edge research.
17. The Freedom Formula by David Finkel
I must admit, I was skeptical of this book when I first heard the title, then I read it. David’s explanation of the time-value matrix makes so much sense and really hits home the idea that working harder and longer hours isn’t the way to grow a business. This book is full of concrete ideas and tools that you can start using right away to change the way you use your time and energy. If your business is stressed you out, you need to read this book.
18. I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time by Laura Vanderkam
This time management book is a great balance between strategies to spend your time at work or in your business better as well as making time to have fun. It definitely made me think about handling things as a working parent and consider that I might not ACTUALLY be a careful steward of my time. Laura also addresses specific issues like getting enough sleep, finding time to exercise, and time for hobbies and leisure pursuits. Her solutions are more about getting you to think differently about your priorities and what you do with your largest blocks of time.
19. The E-myth Revisited by Michael Gerber
This book literally changed my life. The E-Myth Revisited will teach you how to create a small business that can run without you. It’s easy to spend time working on your business, but if you want it to grow, you need to block out critical time to work on your business. This book will help you build a plan to go to the next level – learning how to be the best at what you do, understanding your competition, and carving out your unique selling proposition that will help you win.
20. Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman
All entrepreneurs and business leaders face similar frustrations—personnel conflict, profit woes, and inadequate growth. Decisions never seem to get made, or once made, they fail to be properly implemented. But there is a solution. It’s not complicated or theoretical. The Entrepreneurial Operating System® is a practical method for achieving the business success you have always envisioned. In Traction, you’ll learn the secrets of strengthening the six key components of your business.
21. Entrepreneurial Finance, Finance and Business Strategies for the Serious Entrepreneur (4th Edition) by Steven Rogers
For over 20 years, Steven Rogers’s Entrepreneurial Finance has been the definitive guide to setting up and managing the financial aspects of any small- to medium-sized business. In the fourth Edition, Rogers updates his classic content to reflect the modern entrepreneurial landscape. There’s information on writing a growth business plan, compiling and understanding financial statements, making a company profitable, valuing a company, cash flow management, debt and equity financing, and much more. Mr. Rogers is a Senior Lecturer of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, so this book is MBA level content, but it’s an excellent resource for business owners looking to grow or sell.
22. Fix Your Business: A 90-Day Plan to Get Back Your Life and Reduce Chaos in Your Business by Melinda Emerson
I wrote this book to help you go from struggling to thriving in your business. I want you to get back control of your business. Based on my 12 Ps of Running a Successful Business, which each chapter in the book is based on, readers are given the option to do a deep dive of three key areas in your business or to do a tune-up on all aspects of the business from preparation to processes to planning and perseverance. It’s a 90-day turnaround plan to fix your business and live your dream life.
So, these are what I consider to be the ESSENTIAL business books for small business owners to read in 2021. Do you have other books on your list? Let me know your picks below!