9 Must Read Business Books That Helped Me Grow and Sell My Small Business

These 9 ‘must read business books’ were my lifeline as I grew my business.  I knew nothing about business when I started out. I would never have been able to grow and sell my business without them.

Were you like me? Did you start your business because you were successful at something? That’s what I did and lots of other entrepreneurs start out that way too.

Did you find that once you had started it you gradually realized you needed a whole new range of skills to run it and grow it? I did that too.

My first ‘nightmares’ started to appear after employing my first staff member.  Suddenly I had to be knowledgeable about an endless list of things…

  • Writing job descriptions: How would the staff member be fully aware of their responsibilities otherwise?
  • Government legislation and being totally clear on employment laws.
  • Paying salaries: the appropriate amount, the right day, the right deductions etc.
  • Managing staff: being motivational and helpful but offering praise and constructive criticism at the same time.
  • Language: understanding that we all see and hear things differently. So choosing the right language appropriate to the person.

The list just kept on growing. As more people joined the company the list started to seem endless.

And all this time I was also responsible for ‘doing the job’ as well.  The job I was really good at.  The job I’d started the company to do in the first place!

It’s a real challenge to do a great job yourself, teach and guide others on the right way to ‘do the job’ AND learn all the aspects of small business success.

The end of the nightmare: enter the first of my ‘must read business books’ The E-Myth.

#1 Michael Gerber:

The E-Myth

my number 1 must read business books

I hadn’t even thought of reading a book about business but I mentioned my challenges to a friend. I’ll be forever grateful that he suggested I read the E-Myth by Michael Gerber.

According to INC. Magazine Michael is “The World #1 Small Business Guru”.

The E-Myth is the entrepreneur’s blueprint. Without doubt it is one of the best business books to read if you have your own business.

It explains fully how to take yourself from being a self-employed ‘Technician’’ (doing the work) to being a business owner in the full sense of leading.

The book was exactly what I needed at that time.  It gave me the keys to unlock the potential in my business.  I’ve recommended it many times to people wanting small business success.

I went on to read many more ‘must read’business books.  Some I read completely and earmarked, highlighted and wrote out passages to implement.  Others I read perhaps several chapters. All were invaluable to my small business success.

Here are some of the best ‘must read business books’ from my list:

Must Read Business Books: #2 Tom Hopkins:

How To Master The Art of Selling

No 2 of my must read business books If you are a business owner but not responsible for making sales? Perhaps you think you don’t need selling skills?  Think again.

Interpersonal skills have an impact on almost every interaction we have in our lives.  We are always selling. Almost every aspect of successfully dealing with people requires sales skills.

For anyone who wants business success and to be seen as a true professional, Tom Hopkins study of sales techniques is a must-read.

With good sales skills you can even help others make informed decisions.  And of course, if people like you they buy from you. They buy your ideas.

If you want to develop strong interpersonal skill and to get people to like you then this business book from ‘The Master of Sales’ shows you how.

First published in 1980, it’s completely updated for the Digital Age.  All aspects of sales are covered.  Scared of rejection?  It’s covered here too.

Must Read Business Books: #3 Dale Carnegie:

How To Win Friends And Influence People: “The Only Book You Need To Lead You To Success”.

No 3 of my must read business books This ‘plain language’ book, written in the 1930’s is full of timeless instructions.  Don’t think for one moment that it’s not relevant now. Business owners looking for success will find that this is one of the best ‘must read’ business books.

It has sold 15 million copies, is still selling now and has thousands of reviews on Amazon.

In any leadership role – and really, what role isn’t a leadership one? – knowing how to interact well with people is imperative. I’d say it’s particularly important for small business success.

In Dale Carnegie’s ‘evergreen’ book you’ll learn how to use your listening skills to your advantage. You’ll see the disadvantages of criticizing and complaining. You’ll also learn what to do if you are wrong.

You won’t want to influence everyone you meet with. That’s OK, not everyone is worth influencing!

What this book shows you is how to influence those people that are worth your efforts and the business or personal success it will bring you. One of the all-time-great must read business books.

Must Read Business Books: #4 Jack Canfield:

The Success Principles: “How To Get From Where You Are To Where You Want To Be”.

No 4 of my must read business books The title says it all.  If you’d like to get somewhere that you aren’t currently, this  book will show you how.

In this book, Jack Canfield shows you all the strategies that will help you take the actions you need to take to achieve the success you want.

Listed in this book are 60 success principles proven to improve success in your business and in life generally.

Any one of the principles is certain to bring positive change in different areas of your life.  As a group, the principles can almost certainly move your life forward.

Completely updated for the Digital Age, this book documents timeless principles including:

  • “What others think about you is none of your business.”
  • “It is a Universal Principle that you get more of what you think about, talk about and feel strongly about”
  • The benefits of avoiding ‘toxic’ people.
  • “Connect only with people who can expand your vision.”

This is an absolute ‘must read business book’ if you are looking for small business success.

Must Read Business Books: #5 John Maxwell:

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You.

No 5 of my must read business books This is a book all leaders and aspiring leaders should read.

John C. Maxwell is an internationally recognized leadership expert.  In this book he has successfully condensed the art of leadership into 21 easy to understand laws.

These 21 leadership laws are succinct, effective and supported by real examples and stories of leadership.

He closes each chapter by showing you how to apply these laws.  He gives you practical strategies and activities to help you reflect and grow your leadership skills which can lead to more personal and business success.

The first few chapters include:

The Law of Influence: 

The true measure of leadership is influence.  Nothing more, nothing less.

The Law of Process:

Leadership develops daily, not in a day.

The Law of the Picture:

People do what people see.

A valuable ‘must read business book’ for owners focused on small business success.

Must Read Business Books: #6 Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles:

Raving Fans: “A Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service”.

No 6 of my must read business books If you don’t want repeat business and referrals don’t read this book by customer service ‘gurus’ Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles!

I think this business book is brilliant and I successfully modelled my business on it.

After implementing strategies from this book I achieved record profit margins.

These strategies allowed me to grow the company mostly through repeat business with recommendations.  I was able to sell the business later to a publicly listed organisation.

This is how you make your busteven coveysiness successful and make it stand out from the crowd.

“Just having satisfied customers isn’t good enough anymore. If you really want a booming business, you have to create Raving Fans.”

This book is packed full of tips for small business owners showing them exactly how to increase their bottom line.

By offering outstanding service you can create customers that are  ‘Raving Fans’ who are loyal to you and recommend you.  What small business owner striving for success wouldn’t want that?

Must Read Business Books: #7 Dr Richard Carlson:

Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff.  And It’s All Small Stuff.

No 7 of my must read business books This book might seem lightweight at first glance but don’t brush it aside as irrelevant for business. Written by a psychologist, it’s simple but powerful.

Easy to read and digest, this book will teach anyone who tends to worry how to have a different perspective and more relaxed life.

You’ll probably find yourself smiling and saying, “Oh no!  That’s what I do…”.  Richard Carlton helps you understand that so much is just SMALL STUFF and really, really is just not worth sweating over.

Anyone can follow Dr Carlson’s ideas.  Ideas that will uplift your spirit and open your mind. He frees you in an amusing easy manner as he guides you to a clearer focus of your life.

It’s a definite ‘must read business book’ for business owners who tend to get ‘stressed’.  It’s full of tips you can implement for personal and small business success.

Must Read Business Books: #8 Stephen R Covey

The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change.

No 7 of my must read business books This book has transformed the lives of Presidents, CEOs and me!

Stephen Covey‘s famous book is considered one of the most inspiring and impactful books ever written.  It can transform your thinking and your life with the 7 steps:

1. Be Proactive.

We create our own behaviour. We are responsible for our own life. We have the ability to choose our responses to life.

How we are today is because of the choices we made yesterday.

2. Begin With The End In Mind.

Realize all things are created twice. The first time is in your mind.

3. Put First Things First.

Prioritize every day. Discriminate. Decide what action will make the greatest difference.  Then do it.

4. Think Win-Win.

Both parties should benefit from an agreement. This builds relationships.

5. Seek First To Understand, Then Be Understood.

Firstly, listen to understand, not to reply. Listen with empathy and appreciation. Just listen!

6. Synergize.

The whole is greater than its parts. Creativity blossoms here.

7. Sharpening the Saw.

Grow and develop. Spend at least a half hour everyday on your physical, spiritual, mental and social/emotional dimensions. Life is a process.

This isn’t a ‘quick fix’ book, it’s a way to learn to live a positive and successful life.  I found it  SO valuable.  It’s a brilliant ‘must read business book’ that definitely aided my business success.

If you learn to use just one of these 7 habits, it will change your life.

Must Read Business Books: #9 Tony Robbins:

Unlimited Power.
No 9 of my must read business books Part 1.
 In this part,  Anthony Robbins tells us that “success leaves clues” and he’s right!

What to achieve something? Small business success perhaps? Study who else has already achieved it. Then find out how they did it and do the same.

Part 2. In this second part he teaches us about the Ultimate Success Formula (I had this pinned to the back of my office door so I saw it every day):

  • Know the outcome you want.
  • Take action (and model what works).
  • Know what results you are getting.
  • Be prepared to change until you get what you want.

Part 3.  Here Robbins focuses on leadership. He also explains that if what you want is not in line with your deepest values, there will be internal conflict. That conflict will always stand in the way of you having a completely fulfilled life.

Anthony Robbins teaches positive thinking. He goes further though and gives us the strategies so we can master positive doing. That is what personal power is all about, it is the ability to take action to get the results you want.

Unlimited Power is an excellent book to show you how to harness your own personal power. Many small business success stories come from following Tony Robbins advice.  It works.  Try it!

I’m not suggesting that my list of  ‘must read business books’ are exactly right for you to read at this time but I found great value in them. I think other small business owners that want to improve their skills and grow their business through reading may find them useful too.

Must Read Business Books For Developing Small Business Success Strategies – Key Actions

Next time you get ‘stuck’ with how to move forward in your life or work you could try my strategy:

  • If you like browsing in bookshops, browse the business and self-help areas until a title or cover ‘leaps out’ at you.
  • Once it ‘leaps out’ pick it up and read the first few pages – you’ll soon tell if feels inspiring.
  • If you aren’t near a bookshop try browsing online.  Read reviews and see what inspires you this way.

I guess it’s like trusting your intuition to find the right help at the right time.

I have searched online and successfully chosen books too.  I just prefer to browse in person and while we still have bookshops I still do.

Which books have you read that have inspired and helped you develop your business? Do leave a note in the comments section below and tell me what your ‘must read business books’ are as I’d love to know what’s worked for you.

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About Jan Reeves

Jan has been involved in collections her whole career, most recently as the owner of a continually self-funded specialist credit and collections recruitment company.

Having sold that business, Jan has now turned her focus to sharing her successful business and collections strategies with other small business owners.

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