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11 Books Every Small Business Owner Should Read

When asked about his tools for success, billionaire Warren Buffett once famously instructed entrepreneurs to simply hit the books.

“Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.”

As it turns out, Buffett’s strategy isn’t exactly unique, either. In fact, some of the world’s most successful business owners are avid readers.

After all, books are a fantastic way to explore new ideas and methods of thought – most of which can be directly translated to business. As Einstein once said, “knowledge is power,” and with the right books in mind, you might find yourself traversing the road to success faster than ever before.

Not sure where to get started? Here are 11 of Yocale’s favorite titles.

1 – “Conscious Capitalism” by John Mackey and Raj Sisodia

With many of today’s top corporations failing to realize the repercussions of irresponsible and unsustainable business practices, the global call for business accountability is louder than ever. Conscious Capitalism explores the theory that businesses can be profitable, sustainable, and accountable.

John Mackey – cofounder of Whole Foods – and Raj Sisodia delve into the four tenets they believe can make businesses both formidable and positive forces.

2 – “As a Man Thinketh” by James Allen

There’s a growing global movement advocating for mental positivity and self-awareness. As the adage goes, “you are who you think you are” – attitude is everything.

As a Man Thinketh explores the formative power of one’s own consciousness – how our thoughts about ourselves and others shape our own reality. For anyone tackling the challenge of business ownership, the lessons shared in As a Man Thinketh may prove invaluable.

3 – “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries

The Lean Startup emphasizes that businesses have to be fast and agile in order to survive in today’s rapidly-paced world. By cutting the “fat” of wasted time, Ries offers a scientific approach to business strategy that keeps startups lean and steers them away from imminent failure. The book is a particular favorite of tech-types and entrepreneurs alike.

4 – “Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking” by Malcolm Gladwell

How is it that some people are able to confidently make multi-million dollar decisions, while others struggle to decide what to wear in the morning? Through a psychological lens, Gladwell explores the concept of intuitive thinking – how our decision-making ability largely depends on our ability to filter out noise and focus solely on important variables.

5 – “The Four Steps to the Epiphany” by Steve Blank

In a similar vein to The Lean Startup, influential entrepreneur Steve Blank highlights the importance of setting an intention in business. By arguing that successful startups are built around new business models and not old paradigms, Blank compiles a thorough how-to approach to opening a business.

Covering strategies like rapid iteration, customer feedback, assumption testing, and more, The Four Steps to the Epiphany is often considered required reading for both prospective and seasoned start-uppers alike.

6 – “Lucky Or Smart?” by Bo Peabody

We often attribute success in business to luck or “being in the right place at the right time.” But just how often is this really true?

In Lucky Or Smart, multi-millionaire and business founder Bo Peabody writes that success often comes when one knows they’re getting lucky. On top of that, he advocates for business owners to focus on work that is “fundamentally innovative, morally compelling, and philosophically positive.”

7 – “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” by Dr. Robert Cialdini

Influence is often the driving force of business – and the catalyst for customer sales. So as business owners, how do we master it?

In the pages of Influence, Dr. Robert Cialdini – an expert in the field of persuasion – details why people say “yes,” and how to better our understanding of persuasion. Cialdini’s lessons extend far beyond the world of business, too, and can apply to nearly every other area of our lives.

8 – “Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow” by Chip Conley

With his hotel business on the verge of failure, Chip Conley turned to Maslow’s iconic Hierarchy of Needs for answers out of desperation. In doing so, Conley made a powerful discovery and created a doctrine that radically transformed and saved his business.

In Peak, Conley explains how he translated Maslow’s theory to running a company, and how anyone can use it to better their business and themselves.

9 – “Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

There are countless strategies, tactics, and tweaks out there for both our business and personal lives. It’s easy enough to make these changes initially – but how do we make them stick?

Switch, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, aims to find the answer to that perplexing question by exploring the duality of the rational and emotional mind. In opposition, these two halves of our minds clash – but when united, we are free to bring powerful, long-lasting change to our lives.

10 – “The Obstacle Is the Way” by Ryan Holiday

Ryan Holiday’s thesis on the importance of battling adversity with resilience and perseverance is, in part, inspired by the Greek philosophy of stoicism. The book is also a favorite of many including Arnold Schwarzenegger, and for a good reason – it’s an empowering read that advocates for clarity amidst chaos by asking one simple question: what can you control?

11 – “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey

Originally published in 1990, Covey’s 7 Habits continues to be instrumental in the personal and business success of millions of people. Covering a broad spectrum of personal development topics including productivity, time management, and positive thinking, 7 Habits is a must-read for anyone looking to achieve more with their mind.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this post! For more on business strategy, online and off – keep up with us here, five days a week at the Yocale blog!

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