Today I’ve gathered a list of 7 different books I’ve read in the last year and a half that I think all small business owners and entrepreneurs should read. I’ve specifically selected these books for strategic business growth in mind so that they can be helpful to anyone trying to grow their ventures. These books cover a variety of different topics that will make you think about running your business differently in order to grow it more effectively.
1. Start with Why by Simon Sinek
Sinek goes into great detail and depth into the stories, missions, and visions of legendary companies – like Apple – as well as legendary movements – like Martin Luther King Jr. He provides quality analysis of why some companies flourish, why some don’t ever lift-off or why others plummet in reputation and/or revenue. Starting with your company’s “why” is a fundamental block in helping guide your company towards growth. Sinek describes the different ways company leaders can keep the company on track towards amazing accomplishments, reputations, and growth.
I think this book is an absolute must-read for anyone who is starting a new business, especially their first one. I’m not kidding, this should be required reading while filing your official business paperwork. Sinek’s analysis of various business characteristics is vital for a small business owner and entrepreneur who wants to create an impactful, healthy, and thriving business. As far as books for strategic business growth go, this one has an incredible viewpoint on positioning your business to attract the right audience like wildfire.
People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do itSimon Sinek
The ideas Sinek presents in Start with Why will give you a lot to think about on how you run your business day to day and how these actions communicate your business to the public. His ideas translate to creating authentic and strong brands. Sinek’s book is important for companies that want to cultivate innovative and creative cultures among their employees too. The idea here is that you cannot build a loyal following and avoid high churn rates or price shoppers if your company’s why is murky; I agree with him 100%. You can only do so with a strong and clear “why” that’s easily felt and understood by your target audience and within your organization (even if for now it’s just you).
2. Verbal Judo by George Thompson
In his book, Thompson provides a verity of examples on diffusing conflicts, guiding conversations in the right directions and how to communicate with anyone more effectively no matter the situation. Additionally, he talks about different aspects of communication such as respect, being heard and acknowledged, and providing clear solutions – especially in difficult and stressful situations. Thompson’s advice will help you avoid miscommunication, misunderstanding, and frustrations.
The reason Verbal Judo made it on the list of books for strategic business growth is that it’s hard to grow when you’re communicating poorly. I’m not a natural communicator, I’ve always learned as I went. And, I’ve used the lessons in this book on improving the quality of my communication. It’s helped me express myself more clearly and effectively. This book has also helped me reframe how I think about conflict resolution as well as getting what I want from other people. If you’re struggling with communication or actively want to improve your communication skills, this is a great quick read.
3. Company of One by Paul Jarvis
I will be honest, I have yet to finish reading this, but so far it’s been an incredible read that I had to include on this list. The Company of One is all about reframing your mindset as a business owner. Jarvis’ point isn’t about avoiding growth or settling for less. Quite the opposite actually, as he is simply questioning traditional business building. Even large scale companies can follow the ideas presented by Jarvis in Company of One as they are mindsets for improved quality of life – aka work/life balance – as well as improved customer service and improving the value customers receive from your company.
The ideas presented in this book, I’d like to think would resonate with many small business owners and entrepreneurs because they provide an alternative view of running a business. Staying small and keeping things simple is only possible if you set the right boundaries and goals for yourself. This book talks a lot about fulfillment and meaningfulness which is why most small business owners and entrepreneurs start their own ventures in the first place; hence why is a great candidate as one of the books for strategic business growth. Staying small also doesn’t mean generating a small amount of revenue either. All in all, the Company of One is a new take on business strategy that might work well for many of us who want to avoid the traditional business model.
4. Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger
Simply put, Berger explains why certain ideas and products catch on quickly and become viral while others flop even if they are of high quality. He goes into a lot of detail as to what, why and how ideas become popular such as the characteristics of New York Times articles that go viral. He also explains that advertising budgets don’t mean shit when it comes to popularity and virality, it’s all about the execution of the ideas.
Every single business needs customers in order to succeed. Whatever your marketing strategy whether it’s ads or content marketing, this book will reshape how you think about how you speak about your company, the type of content you produce, the kind of features or benefits you provide and the type of marketing you do. It will most certainly give you a lot to think about. I highly recommend Contagious for small business owners and entrepreneurs who are looking to spread the word about their businesses in an effective and productive way, and those looking for another book to add to their list of incredible books for strategic business growth. Also, if you enjoy psychology this is going to be a fun read for you as well 🙂
5. Never Lose a Customer Again by Joey Coleman
Coleman divided a custom journey into 8 phases; it’s applicable to any kind of client or customer base. Naturally, he also goes into detail about each phase including how they are handled commonly by businesses alongside opportunities for improvement too. By identifying and explaining each of these phases in his book, Coleman suggests that rethinking how you see your customers’ or clients’ journey is a sure way to delight them and therefore never lose a customer again.
I’m a big fan of Coleman’s work because I agree with him. I’ve written a few blog posts in the past about his book and his ideas too including an overview of the 8 phases and an article detailing 3 different ways to improve your customer experience. As a designer, I think he’s absolutely right because I use a similar mindset framework for designing better experiences for end users for my clients. Focusing on creating positive experiences in a customer’s journey and relationship with a company is a wonderful way to ensure low churn rates, higher conversion rates, and higher customer satisfaction. All of these are critical in helping your business stay afloat – at the very worst – and sustaining healthy growth – at best.
I strongly believe that businesses who pay attention to their customers’ journey are the ones who stand out and the ones who build loyal relationships and a raging fan base. Couple Never Lose a Customer Again with my last recommendation – Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller – and you’re bound to create an unbeatable company structure and funnels. I hope it’s easy to see why I’ve added this one to this list of books for strategic business growth. Your bottom line will be healthy and large and your competition won’t know what hit them.
6. How to Think Like a Freak by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J Dubner
This book is quite interesting in and of itself. It covers a variety of topics that relate back to the thesis of this book, which is also the title. A couple of its stories include how a novice hot dog eating contestant set a large world record and how the authors alongside the UK government helped terrorist flag themselves.
The reason I recommend this as one of the books for strategic business growth is that it’s full of smart ideas on thinking differently and outside the box. As small business owners and entrepreneurs, it’s important for us to do exactly this in order to help our businesses grow. Additionally, these ideas and psychologies can easily be transferred to running more efficient businesses. Let me give you an example. The authors helped set traps for terrorists to self identify for the UK government. You can use a similar set up for unqualified leads to self-disqualify which saves you time, money and other resources too. I’ve used the ideas shared in How to Think Like a Freak in my work as both, a web designer and a business owner, and I couldn’t recommend it enough for you to try them too.
7. Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller
In his book, Miller goes over a variety of different aspects that make up a quality brand in a step by step fashion. He goes in-depth about different branding aspects such as quality core values and how to define them all the way to creating effective elevator pitches once you have a complete brand story defined for your business. His framework is a fantastic business solution. It will force you to think deeply about how you present your company to your customers, leads and target audience.
I highly recommend taking the time to read Building a Story Brand for small business owners and entrepreneurs because it will help you reframe how you think about your business and how you communicate about your brand – both, internally and externally. Miller’s framework is fantastic and it will help your company put your brand vision into concrete words and help improve your business decision making. On top of all this, you can use this to improve your sales strategies by clarifying your message to be more direct.
Miller teaches the readers on different psychological aspects that go into making a purchase and how to craft a brand message that’s effective and highly attractive, as the title suggests. It’s a fantastic must-read among many books for strategic business growth because it covers the whole concept of branding in great detail. Additionally, the book comes with free access to Miller’s StoryBrand Brandscript which you can fill out as you read along. It’s a great book to get you thinking about positioning, messaging and marketing.
Other books for strategic business growth contenders?
Right now, I have two books to finish the first one is the Company of One. The second is Retention Point, by Robert Skrob, which was highly spoken about from my current client’s team. It got brought up a few times during various meetings so I figured I’d give it a shot. So far, so good. It’s a book about keeping customers interested in your subscription-based services.
I wanted to write this post for small business owners and entrepreneurs interested in expanding their mindsets or those wanting to get inside a designer’s head. My blog is a place for me to share how design impacts business and these books help me get more creative and strategic at my job so that the impact is more effective and overall positive for my clients.
PS. Have you read any of these? What did you think of them?