5 Must-Have Books for Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs

Whether you are a seasoned pro or just getting started with introducing a new concept to the market, these books have some timely and time-honored tips.

Some things don’t change when it comes to getting a new product into the world. But if social media and technology have taught us anything, it’s that innovation depends on blunders, accidents, big mistakes and relentless resilience. These titles have some interesting points to add to the conversation about what it means to strike out on your own, what it takes to let an idea thrive and how to derive personal satisfaction from the startup process itself.

4 Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss has become a household name for a few reasons. He stops at nothing when testing an idea, even going as far as testing it on himself (nick-naming himself “the human guinea pig”). This book put Ferriss on the map because he introduces a few concepts that can be very instructive, like “questioning your assumptions” and “minimum effective dose.” He’s part self-help, part fitness instructor, part competitive tango dancer, and part Buddhist nerd who really enjoys learning new things. This read can plant many motivating seeds in the fertile ground of risk and reward.

The Daily Entrepreneur: 33 Success Habits for Small Business Owners, Freelancers and Aspiring 9-to-5 Escape Artists by S.J Scott & Rebecca Livermore. The subtitle speaks for itself. Corporate hierarchical culture is giving way to a more level playing field, a more experimental attitude towards productivity and a more reasonable work-life balance. “Successful entrepreneurs aren’t always the ones with the most talent. They face the same challenges that you and I face. What sets them apart is their solid foundation of habits and daily routines.” The authors take a look at some of the daily, automated and ritualized actions that contribute to success in small business.

The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future by Chris Guillebeau discusses the concept of the microbusiness, the recent revolution at the ground floor where individuals with unique talents are learning how to build their dream jobs, or in the author’s words, “crafting a life of independence and purpose.” He argues that big capital is not necessarily the best recipe for success, and his suggestions are fresh and outside the box.

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance. What does the tech giant and visionary have to teach you about small business? Well, the founder of PayPal nearly went bust trying to get that idea off the ground– while he was still in college. Since then, he has successfully launched the most sought after electric vehicle and the concomitant infrastructure to propagate this new model of power, and now he is working on colonizing space. Musk had great ambition, but he also surrounded himself with great minds and kept his contribution to human betterment squarely in front of him. This is a great inspirational read because despite the size of his accomplishments, he is also very self reflective and critical in his analysis. Vance is also a talented and interesting writer so she keeps the narrative bouncing along.

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries examines the triumphs and tribulations of the best and the worst launches, trying to get behind the scenes and debunk the modern Horatio Alger story of the hard work and perseverance that enables a couple guys in a garage to change the world. Ries takes a hard look at failure and just what can be gleaned from it, but more importantly, he spells out a step-by-step process for developing an idea as a way of condensing the concept for maximum impact. This one really encourages the reader to rethink some of the presupposed processes in creating a startup.

If you are sitting at your desk dreaming of the big win, it may be time to turn to the literature for some energizing guidance. Sometimes, according to these examples, the most outrageous ideas make it, and regular people can make some remarkable choices that change their lives and the market. It’s not a coincidence that the way these thinkers define success by the quality of their experiences in bringing a new invention into the world, not by the success of the product itself. So if we study the masters, we also may be able to achieve the personal exhilaration that comes from creating a new solution.

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