I’m a huge reader! When people ask my hobbies, reading is listed and I always completed all my summer reading lists and had more pizza coupons then I could use.
And since starting my business one of my favorite learning resources is of course reading. I LOVE hearing what other entrepreneurs are reading and I thought I should be sharing what I’m reading in return. This list will be updated as I make my way through my entrepreneur biz book reading list.
My Very Top Picks
I’m not ranking the books I’ve read, as I feel that different people interpret books differently. Just like looking at clouds or a painting what I pick out and what you pick out might be quite different. But I thought I would list a few books here that made a particular impact on me.
Building A StoryBrand by Donald Miller
READ THIS BOOK! Anyone trying to write copy for their business, NEEDS to read this book. The framework that he builds for communicating your brand is genius. Seriously gift yourself a copy and then do a website copy re-boot. And when you read it, make sure to do the work, this is not just a read and forget it book. You can find out more about the framework here as well (without reading the book).
You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth byJen Sincero
OMG I’m obsessed with this book. I loved her first one but this one was 😍! So many truth bombs and inspiration to kick through your fear. I’m reading through it for a second time to do all the exercises and plan on developing my own money mindset routine once I’ve worked through all of them. This book really broke through to me on my mindset and made me realize how much I was letting fear hold me back. I 100% was not living my fullest life.
Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin
This book totally changed how I approach my day and scheduling. It made me so much more intentional with my approach to how I look at my time.
You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero
Yep, both her books are on my top read (not sorry). I loved this book and it never fails to inspire me. I seriously feel more badass reading it. I actually bought both books in audio to give me little pick me ups during the day. If I was to recommend one I would say the Making Money one first but both are great.
All Marketers are Liars by Seth Godin
A fabulous read for motivation in telling your story and how authentic marketing works. I recommend this book to everyone trying to market themselves 🙂
Big Plan For The Creative Mind by Dannie Fountain & Reina Pomeroy
I love this book to get you inspired for planning/goal setting. It’s basically a choose your own adventure of what style fits you best. The book interviews entrepreneurs and how they goal set. Check out this IG post on how it inspired me.
Playing Big by Tara Mohr
All the ladies need to read this book! So much good advice that women (entrepreneurial or not) need to hear. I recognized so many of the ways we hold ourselves back not only for myself but also echoed by fellow entrepreneurs. She identifies ways that so many women consciously or unconsciously hold ourselves back from living our fullest, biggest lives and ways to address these systematic behaviors.
Just because they are in my “other reads” list does not make them bad books. I’ll mention if I found a book truly unreadable but I always find some value in almost any book I read.
Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard By Chip & Dan Heath
Loved this book, for both mindset as well as habits and how changes can affect you and why it’s so hard to make changes. If you are beating yourself up about motivation give this one a read.
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
I’m super into habit building and loved the scientific studies referenced in this book, but it was still an easy read.
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
I’m not sure I really have anything to add that hasn’t already been said 😂. One of my favorite parts the story she tells about another author “stealing” her story because her muse gave up on her. I loved that way of thinking about it. I also feel like sometimes we do seem similar ideas pop up at the same time in the online biz world but I don’t think a lot of them are from copying.
The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do by Jeff Goins
This book is good if you are trying to find your business direction.
The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield
Some interesting takes again on mindset, habits, and the collective/creative universe.
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
This one and the next one (The Science of Getting Rich) are good mindset books, though be warned they were written in the early 1900s and the writing is a bit different.
The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace D. Wattles
Good for money mindset, and is mentioned in both Jen Sincero’s books.
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
I loved this book too, though from a business perspective I recommend reading Better Than Before first. This book made me really evaluate how I was using my time and to make more of an effort to use time intentionally.
Daring Greatly by Brené Brown
Woah! This book was all the feels kind of book. I’m not sure if I just read it at the wrong (or right) time, but there *might* have been tears.
Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon & Show Your Work by Austin Kleon
Both of Kleon’s books are SO good if you suffer from comparative-itis or the dreaded it’s all been said before, nothing is original syndrome.
If you are in the B-School alumni group she is a member. A good read to get some perspective on sales copy and sales in general.
If you are looking for time management advice and on approaching your schedule this book might help. I wasn’t 100% in love with this one and liked the inspiration I gained around time from Rubin’s books a bit more.
This book was interesting and I read it after it was mentioned in Switch several times, but I did not feel it touched enough on how to develop mindset as a business owner or adult. I think it’s great for parents if you want to instill a growth mindset in your child though.
This book is good if you are thinking about mediation and wondering what it can do for you. It’s a bit more biographical then instructional (just fyi).
A good read for advice around business finances/bookkeeping and growth. Though I feel like I could have just skipped to the middle of the book to get the “good” information, the beginning felt like fluff to me.
It was hard for me to really feel on board with the writer, but he has some very thought-provoking points. It’s a good mindset book and a good reminder about being intentional in your life.
I really enjoyed this book, it’s a bit like Big Plan because it’s a collection of approaches different experts take when it comes to managing their day to day schedules/managing their creativity.
I enjoyed this read. Reading it you can so tell how her voice comes to her shows. It’s pretty interesting and real. I wouldn’t say it’s that business-focused per say but there are certainly life lessons and mindset lessons shared but through the lens of her own journey.
So this has been on my list forever, and my interest is always re-peaked every time someone brings it up. So I’m happy to cross it off my list. I liked it, gives some practical advice, and I do think starting your day in a good headspace can, of course, help your whole day. However, it’s not my favorite read, and I didn’t find it particularly groundbreaking. Plus reading it reminds me of a bit of late night infomercial. Find it here at mirclemorning765.com or whatever sprinkled in almost every chapter. And his personal story timeline doesn’t exactly add up but worth a read for the advice.
The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks
Another one I’ve been hearing about for ages and just didn’t LOVE. 😟 What Hendricks presents lines up with many of Brené Brown’s concepts, of course, presented differently but at the core is a lot of giving up being the victim, taking responsibility, and hard inner reflection to live your biggest and brightest life. I personally think Brené Brown presents it much better, more scientific and at the same time in a more soulful way. This book to me felt like a cardboard cut out of what Brené Brown teaches.
Also, I was put off by his example of Bill Clinton in the beginning of the book where he says, “He self-sabotaged his success by getting involved in a sex scandal that led to impeachment and disgrace. He failed to understand his Upper Limit Problem, and it kept him from enjoying fully his place in American history.” Umm…not impeached as the Senate acquitted, finished office, and had one of the higher ratings leaving office, also one of the most highly sort after and paid speakers after his presidency (sorry hardly ruined in my opinion).
She basically outlines how she got started in her business to build The Female Entrepreneur Association. An easy read with actionable steps thrown in. It’s a good read for inspiration or if you are just starting your business.
This book is to the point which I do like. I do feel like she could have expanded a bit on some of the topics but there are definitely some real gold nuggets of business knowledge. And not the same all same all you hear.
Lots of solid information on crafting a basic marketing strategy. I love her examples and straight talk that go along with her strategies. However, after her treatment of her paid program the Luminaries Club I wouldn’t buy anything from her again.
Business Brilliant by Lewis Schiff
This book was good, like really good. I love it because it uses survey results plus case studies to demonstrate winning business principles. Very interesting read with lessons for entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs, I particularly liked the negotiations section.
The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin
First of all, if you have not read Better Than Before, I highly recommend you read that and then read this if you interested in learning more about her four tendencies framework. The four tendencies relate to how you are motivated, and develop habits.
I did find this an interesting read but came away feeling even more confused about my tendency since I seem to have some strong traits of all of the four tendencies. I’m an Obliger. You can find out your tendency by taking this quiz, which you should take prior to reading the book. She also has several podcast episodes focusing on the individual tendencies if you want to dive deeper into the tendencies without reading the book. 😁
Get Rich, Lucky Bitch by Denise Duffield-Thomas
I’ve been following Denise for a while now and often enjoy her blog posts/materials and I know a lot of people who have been through her bootcamp. I’ve had this book on my list for a while now so I’m happy to see what it was all about. Money mindset is one of those topics that at times I find hard to connect with.
This book was ok, but I felt like most of the suggestions seemed very repetitive. I much prefer Jen Sincero’s You Are A Badass At Making Money over this one, Sincero’s book just seems more practical to me. I would say if you are interested in the topic then grab Denise’s book because mindset is all about finding what connects for you. Which I do like her attitude of basically exactly that, she often says you need to experiment and just find what works for you.
Honestly, the more mindset books I read the more the general theme shows up again and again of “what stories are you telling yourself or making up around whatever it is that is holding you back.”
Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman
This book is all about planning, operations, processes and managing your team so of course I appreciate it. It is more geared towards a traditional small business but a great read on operations and good prep for a growing business.
10x Marketing Formula: Your Blueprint for Creating ‘Competition-Free Content’ That Stands Out and Gets Results by Garrett Moon
This book is written by the founder of Co-Schedule. It was a fairly easy read and I enjoyed reading his approach, especially getting laser focused in your marketing strategy. A great read for solopreneurs and businesses with teams.
When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel H. Pink
LOVED this book. Very actionable, each chapter ends with action-steps to implement what you learn in the chapter. I really appreciate the research shared behind the concepts. I often struggle with finding flow in my day, managing my energy throughout the day and figuring out when I work best, so I loved the insight I feel like was provided in this book. Of course, I’m always excited when a book encourages napping.
Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brené Brown
I’m a big Brene Brown fan, but to be honest, this was my least favorite of her books. It felt lighter on the research side, and the stories didn’t feel to connect as much as some of her prior work. But still worth a read, she’s a great writer and exposure of personal truths, and it might connect better for you.
High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard
Amy Porterfield mentioned it in a podcast and I was intrigued. Lots of mindset tips, along with data from his clients/research, along with actionable tips to apply to your own life. The concepts are practical and it make sense that these are helpful habits to develop. I feel like if you connected to the concept/philosophy of the 5 Second Rule you would like this book, it’s a similar concept but SO much better. I found this a good read and it resonated and inspired me to get back to some of the routines I’ve let slack lately.
My three key take aways:
- Stick to trying to maintain balance in my weekly schedule (many must haves that I wrote about in this blog post align with habits of top performers 😄 )
- Live my truth! I often struggle with showing me, sharing my dreams, I’m more reserved but know that living bolder/sharing bolder means a brighter life.
“Be more intentional about who you want to become. Have vision beyond your current circumstances. Imagine your best future self, and start acting like that person today.” (pg. 65)
- This quote! I like how he talks about having clarity of who you want to be in all situations and adjusting accordingly, so how to you want to approach that project, or that meeting, or that person. Also using the “release” technique to transition. As I often do have trouble at times transitioning and letting go to re-focus.
Clockwork by Mike Michalowicz
I liked this book. Solid advice and good takeaways, though at times his examples + concepts are a bit narrow. All the concepts would not work for businesses at all phases nor of all operations/types. My top three takeaways were:
- Pick your QBR. I love the idea of having one main driver in which to measure and make decisions against. The QBR (queen bee role) is the core function you decide to hinge your company’s success on.
- Advice on letting employees have ownership and responsibility over roles, however I do disagree to an extent about not needing SOPs. His example is very narrow, and honestly if you are scaling your one-man shop you should be building processes so it’s done your way.
- Fix problems one at a time. Or how I like to think about it is turn the ship in increments, not twisting the wheel this way and that. When you change too many things at once it’s hard to figure out what actually works!
Fascinate by Sally Hogshead
It was an interesting read, and certainly gave quite a bit to think about. I’m not sure how to connect the dots on how this applies to a personal brand vs. a company brand. Hogshead’s quiz is more personal but the book is more geared towards corporations. My three takeaways were:
- The Orange ticket concept. What tweaks can you make to your brand experience to give it more oomh, more x factor; to make it more interesting or more satisfying, more sought after.
- “To become more fascinating, you don’t have to change who you are. You have to become more of who you are.” I loved this line. And it really got me thinking about how to do that.
- She outlines what kind of language and approach that each type of advantage should take and how they approach their branding and messaging. Not exactly a takeaway but it was insightful and something I can go back to.
Being Boss: Take Control of Your Work and Live Life on Your Own Terms by Emily Thompson and Kathleen Shannon
I’ve followed Being Boss for years, even before I started my business, so their book has been on my list since it’s come out. I like how it was layout and it was like their podcast in a way, with their advice mixed with guest experts.
Plus they made it actionable as you see below my 3 takeaways are really quotes:
- “A Mandatory Lazy Day is a day on which you are allowed to do absolutely nothing, as a way to cope with the stress of day-to-day life. We have a Mandatory Lazy Day in our house every two or three months, usually at particularly busy times in our lives. We set aside one day, usually on a weekend, when we commit to doing nothing productive.”
So totally did this and it was amazing! I felt no pressure to be like, oh we should do something. The permission gave the lazy day a whole new freedom/mind shift for me.
- “You need both the vision and the hustle. You need a big picture and a step-by-step plan. You need work and you need rest. You need structure and you need flexibility. You need community and you need competition. Your capacity to live in the tension of the “and”—and your ability to recognize when to push and when to pull—is what will make you a creative, productive, and happier boss.”
I just loved this! I also feel like I’m in the “and”, I like routine, but not too much. I like structure but I don’t like to feel boxed in.
- “TRY THIS: IF YOU COULD DO JUST ONE THING ALL DAY, WHAT WOULD IT BE? If you could quit doing one thing forever, what would go? Use the answers to these questions to begin writing out your dream job description and job title.”
I loved this exercise!
Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis
I honestly read this book mostly because of all the noise online about it. It was ok, not bad but also I’m not like OMG it changed by life. I liked how the chapters were formatted with starting with a lie she tells herself and ending with things that help overcome that lie.
It does read a bit like you are missing pieces if you have not been a life long fan. You know when you are sitting with friends and they are talking about something that happened before you knew them or about one of their other friends, and you get the conversation but don’t have total buy in, like that. Also her dieting comment about you just need to consume less calories than you burn off is a bullshit statement. BUT I do agree with the overall premise of the book that we get to choose to make our lives the best we can.
I agree whole-hearty with the core concept of this book I just wish he dove into the meat of it much much quicker. I don’t know if I was just not in the mood reading it or if I really didn’t like the way this book’s materials was presented. I had a hard time getting into it, and found myself getting annoyed with the pace and side stories. This book is one that ALWAYS is showing up Facebook groups where people ask for business book recommendations.
I agree with the overall concept, of course, since the core of the book is that a sustainable business is built on systems.(YAY systems!) I do think too many of us in small business act more as freelancers than business owners (ie stuck in the technician mode). If you haven’t read it, I think it’s worth the time, but I felt like the meat of the material was about 100+ pages in. My 3 key takeaways:
- I loved the section about Strategic Objective, and the story of Sarah’s strategic objective. I do think we build more fulfilling businesses when we look past the widget, that’s where your uniqueness comes in and drives a business that stands out. (page 156)
- “Chapter 14: Your Organization Strategy” is brilliant and if are having trouble getting through the book, at least read this chapter. Most ops books don’t come from a place of the solopreneur, this actually explains how to tackle really building your team/positions if you are a one woman show (or in the case of the example a two man show). This is 100% how it should be done, and most business owners don’t approach it like this. They want the employee to figure it out or organize themselves and then are frustrated because things aren’t done how they did them.
- “You can’t delegate your accountabilities.” “You must set the standard.”
THIS!! Lots of small business owners skip this step, they see hiring as pushing things off their plate. An approach of here take this so I don’t have to manage it anymore. Which is the goal but you can’t just hire someone and not set the standard, not give them the objectives, bigger pictures, and how their actions play into that larger vision of your business. I’ve since a terrible trend in the work 4 hours a week, only touch creative/strategic work mantras that skip in their messaging the structure you need and the hard work to make that happen. The results of skipping the structure is your business is a hot mess express behind the scenes which spills over to your customer service, and your vision gets lost.
Girl Code by Cara Alwill Leyba
I’m not sure how this book got on my list, most likely from some Facebook Group post. I totally agree with supporting my fellow bossladies, but overall meh. This book fell flat to me and I just felt it was SO surface. No three take aways from this one.
The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
I wasn’t sold on this book when I first started but around chapter 4, it started to grow on me. I think when he first presents the idea he over simplifies it, but there are some really good tips on getting focused and prioritizing as the book moves on. I personally work best focused on fewer things, and really making space for projects so this book certainly spoke to me.
- Protect your willpower: ever since starting my business I feel the drain on my energy and motivation much more so than working 9-5. It’s nice to have back-up from this book it’s not just me and they give some good tips on how to preserve your willpower and what drains it.
- Balance does not exist: which I fully agree with. We have this idea of having to balance all the things, and that is just impossible. What we do is we waste energy on trying to do it all, and finding that balance. I love the advice on just recognizing that this should not be the goal, but to devote your time to what is best for you. This quote: “ In your effort to attend to all things, everything gets shortchanged and nothing gets its due.”
- You define your life: I really like his spin on the you are the captain of your life, and you determine your purpose. To me it felt like a more scientific/strategic take on manifesting.
ACT on Your Business by Lee Chaix McDonough
This is a different perspective to entrepreneurial mindset than you will find in most business books. Lee gives very actionable advice with practices you can start using right away to help you clear your mind of all those less than helpful voices. I’m not giving my top three takeaways for this one, because the book is not really designed like that, you need all the pieces. BUT I will say my favorite practice Lee discusses is at the VERY end of the book, it’s the bus driver one. But you will have to read it to find out more!
Atomic Habits by James Clear
This book was a very timely read. I highly recommend this one if you have trouble creating or sticking to habits. I LOVE books about habits and motivation. This one had some interesting perspectives on the topic.
One of my favorite bits was all about how if you see yourself as a person that does that habit you are more likely to stick to that habit. So instead of being a smoker who is trying to quit, you are a non-smoker instead.
If you like learning about what makes people behave in certain ways it’s a definite need to read. It also gives very actionable steps for you to take if trying to change a habit.
Company of One: Why Staying Small Is the Next Big Thing for Business by Paul Javis
I love the concept of this book, and that whole heartily agree that you can build a successful business without looking to expand. I totally think that so many of us get caught up in “this is what you do to grow” (like hiring or more offers, or bigger audiences) and that’s totally not the only way to build a successful business, that’s just one path.
I enjoyed this book for bringing that other path perspective. I think this book would have been better with stronger examples of companies of one and the perspective of how they walked a different path. There were a lot of examples of big business and how they did xyz and it didn’t work and I felt like that those weren’t strong examples to the central idea of the book.
Badass Your Brand by Pia Silva
This is a perfect read if you are in the position of re-evaluating how you want to do business and what you want to do with your offers. I appreciate the straight forward advice, actionable steps, and real business examples utilized in this book. It’s a great read to get you thinking about how you approach your business offerings and how you show up as a brand.
Start With Why by Simon Sinek
This is one of those books that have been on my list FOREVER. So I finally read it, it seemed like the right time going through the re-brand. This book felt like a hard read, it was fairly repetitive and slow moving. I seriously think this book could have been 100ish pages shorter.
I really liked the discussion of how when you focus on your why and your team, that radiates out to your customers. I think this is an important concept especially relevant to small business owners when they are thinking of building their teams. And the discussion of the way your messaging is crafted and conveyed to your audience is good to think about.
Overall, I didn’t feel super fired up or inspired by the book, but it had good concepts/reminders.
Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life by Susan David
This was a great mindset book, with techniques to try out when you are in need. This book really encompassed a lot of mindset struggles I think many entrepreneurs face. I felt like it was what I wanted out of Carol Dweck’s Mindset, but didn’t get. This book you get a lot of good advice on how to have a more growth mindset that seems doable.
Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle
This book was interesting. I can’t embrace 100% of it, but a good amount resonated. For me it gave me a context and explanation for why I have felt frustrated about certain things, and a good reminder of some other things that as women we face and may not even question. I would recommend it’s a good read for any woman.
Everything Is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo
I found the book very motivational and good for mindset, I was really impressed, and I think it’s one that I would revisit when I need a motivational boost. Running your business is hard, and having that cheerleader in your back-pocket and boost your motivation-this book is that cheerleader!
Choose Wonder Over Worry by Amber Rae
I felt like I needed a mindset type book to get me out of the holiday/winter/January blahs I was feeling. I liked it, but it didn’t make my top mindset/motivation book (and maybe it was my mindset while reading it🤣). I enjoyed her journey and personal stories, but I kind of felt they were thrown at me, as opposed to taking me on a curated journey. I think certainly worth a read and I’m happy I got to be introduced to her via this book.
Transform Your Stories: Overcome Your Toxic Stories, Become a Courageous and Confident Leader, and Impact the World by Ashley Cox
I enjoyed the book, while certainly it has a leadership/team leading slant, it was a good mindset book. I’m currently going through Money Bootcamp, and it fit really well with some of that course work on uncovering stories we tell ourselves. I liked how she organized the material and the framework she introduced.
What books have you read that I need to add to my list?
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