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5 Great Business Books You Must Read

Why is reading important for business?

Everyone is busy, and reading can feel like one more job in a very long list. But if you push through and create a reading habit you will be massively rewarded. How? Well one of the best ways to learn about business is from other people who have been there done that and got the T-Shirt.

But I could get the same information from YouTube or other video resource, so why would I pick up a book?

Well you maybe could.

But the thing about books is they have to pass a more rigorous level of fact checking than the average social media video. In an era of fake news and conspiracy theories, books are a solid resource that are probably the closest thing we can get to the truth.

Entrepreneurs who read

Every business is different but at the heart of a good one is usually a founder who nurtured a habit of lifelong learning.

Regardless of your personal views of Bill Gates, Microsoft is undeniably successful by anyone's standards.

As a man at the head of a global empire you’d expect Bill to have little time for books wouldn’t you?

But he takes a week off every year just to read. Think Weeks I believe they are called

What Can Business Reading Do For You?

  • Teach you how to apply business theory

  • Inspire you with new ideas

  • Help you see that, you as an entrepreneur are connected to a global collection of people who think and feel a certain way

  • Help you develop strategies, techniques and habits that will support you in your life as a business person

Now that I’ve made the case for why you should try and read more business focused books, the following blog is based around a synopsis of a conversation that I had live on Instagram with Angela Burgess - Business Coach and Founder of SE Magazines

Angela and I are both avid readers so this was a conversation I very much enjoyed. I hope you will too.

If you’d like to watch the conversation I’ve included a link at the end of this article.

You can also buy any of the books mentioned in this blog, here 5 Great Business Books You Must Read on my shop (contains Affiliate links)

Written in 2006 by American Psychologist Carol Dweck this book was a game changer when it came out. To give a very brief synopsis as I have reviewed it on the site before Mindset introduces the notion that a person can either have a fixed or a growth mindset.

If you have a fixed mindset you believe that someone is born with a finite level of intelligence and that will not change over the course of their life. If you are ‘bad’ at something you always will be. You tend to see the world in black and white.

If you have a growth mindset, then you believe that intelligence is a fluid state. You can affect outcomes by putting time and effort into them. You see the world as an amazing place full of things to do and try, and learning for you is a lifelong pursuit.

It is first on the list of books that are really useful to business owners because of its focus on how success is really so much easier than we all think.

In summary, don’t label yourself as good or bad at things.

"If you believe you can or you believe you can’t you are right." Henry Ford

Carol Dwecks book Mindset. This image shows a white book cover with a blue speech bubble coming out of the letter i
What Is Success And How Do We Achieve It?

How often do you feel that your life is complicated and your schedule overloaded?

You won’t be alone in that I am sure. The One Thing is an amazing book in that it offers such a simple solution to this overwhelm.

Gary Keller is the owner of one of the most successful real estate businesses globally yet the concepts that this book offers are just so easy for anyone to apply.

Pick something, do it, and then move onto the next thing.

The One Thing preaches cutting the clutter in our lives (and most things are clutter) and mastering what matters.

Who would have thought that a business concept could be so easy to apply and yet so life changing?

I used the technique myself when I self published a book that I wrote last year during the first lockdown period.

I just kept going with each next step even though some of them were hard (editing took a long time!) and eventually about 6 months after the project began I had a book.

Yellow book cover with a number one shape, filled with text that says The One Thing, The Number 1 Bestseller - Gary Keller with Jay Papasan
The One Thing Review

This was one of Angela's choices as I had not read the book, so I had to do a little research before our talk.

In a nutshell S.U.M.O can be described as a book that helps you deal with adverse conditions that life throws at you, and then move on.

Motivational Speaker Paul McGee is an advocate for waking up from your state of autopilot, which many of us live in and thinking about what we want to get out of life, clearing away the things that hinder us and refocusing.

The book has funny names for it’s advice, for example ‘Change Your T-Shirt’ means stop wearing a victim T-Shirt if you want to achieve success.

Clear your mindset in other words.

Then there is ‘Fruity Thinking’ which relates to changing your faulty thinking and getting rid of the inner critic.

Angela recommends this book because it gives practical advice that can really change your life, in a way that is simple to remember and also funny!

The word S.U.M.O spelled out with a dot in between each letter, written in red (Shut Up, move On) With a sumo wrestler riding a one wheel cycle holds the sign that says bestsller.
S.U.M.O shut up move on summary

Psychologist Angela Duckworth wrote Grit to show anyone who wants to succeed in life whether business people or other, that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a mixture of passion and persistence she calls "grit."

I think for any small business person ‘grit’ is probably engrained in their personality.

I rarely meet a small business owner that thinks they are the only option to their customers but what most of them do think is that they can help them in some authentic way special to them.

In an interesting tie up with the first book on the list Mindset, Grit is about how we think about things.

If you are a person who never takes no for an answer and believes that you can eventually learn anything, then you are a ‘Gritty’ person.

If on the other hand you think that talent is innate, that those who are good at things haven't worked incredibly hard to get to where they are, you are less so.

Duckworth makes the points that talent is not important. No one is born talented.

Grit on the other hand can be learned and applied. Hope, effort, precision, passion, ritual and prioritization all go into making up Grit and none of those are innate.

The main reason you should read this book as a small business owner is it will remind you that you are in good company.

Anyone who has anything worthwhile at all will have sweated over it to get there.

If that is where you are right now, keep going and know that every effort moves you closer.

Blue Paint spatter spreads out from the single word written in white Grit
Grit why passion and resilience are the secrets to success

Both Angela and I are huge fans of this book. So are lots of people because it has sold over a million copies globally.

It is so hard to write about this book and not tell you everything but I’ll try and keep it brief.

Firstly Atomic Habits is a book about how to be more productive by implementing good habits.

James Clear looks at all of the different requirements a habit has to become a part of our lives.

The following sums it up pretty well.

Firstly whatever the thing is that we are seeking to make habit needs to be obvious to us.

Clear gives examples about how the Japanese keep their train systems running smoothly through a point and call system.

This helps them keep trains running on schedule, and minimises accidents.

How can you make the thing you are trying to make a habit to be obvious to you?

Next, make it attractive. How can you make the habit that you are trying to embed attractive to you?

When we anticipate a reward our dopamine spikes. So we need to build in treats to help us enjoy creating the new habit.

Thirdly we need to make it easy for ourselves. Friction prevents habit formation.

He gives examples like laying out gym clothes the night before, chopping vegetables so they are ready to cook.

In a funny example from history, he mentions the case of author Victor Hugo who threw all his clothes away to enable him to stay home and write his book. Perhaps that last one is a little extreme but you get the idea!

Finally, James Clear recommends that we make our new habits satisfying. How can we build in rewards that make us feel good about what we are aiming for? If weight loss is a goal could we buy a new clothing item each time we hit a goal for example?

For me personally I found the concept of linked habits which are introduced in this book, to be very helpful. A linked habit might be grabbing a new glass of water each time you make a coffee. You already do one habit so adding another should be much simpler.

Maybe doing a few counter push ups whilst you wait for the kettle to boil for example.

Why should you buy this book as an entrepreneur? Because I think for all of us what we achieve comes down to the systems we have in place, which ultimately means the habits we have.

A white book with the words Atomic Habits sits in a beige setting with copper objects scattered around at the periphery
Atomic Habits by James Clear


In this blog version of the talk by Angela Burgess and I, I hope we have given you plenty to think about with regards to these 5 great business books.

We’ve covered why Mindset by Dr Carol S. Dweck will help you with thinking differently about your intelligence and ability.

How The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan will help you to achieve focus and mental calm by simply taking one thing at a time and working through each one instead of multi tasking.

In S.U.M.O by Paul McGee we covered how the book will help you interrupt bad mental habits and form new ones.

With Grit by Angela Duckworth we discussed how talent is not the most important component of success but working hard and sticking to things are.

And finally in Atomic Habits by James Clear we looked at how anyone can be successful when they implement new ways of thinking about the habits that are part of our daily life.

To Watch The Original Talk

If you would like to watch the original version of this discussion then the link for the Self Employed Club IGTV account is here. Thank you again to Angela Burgess for having this conversation.

Thanks for reading


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If you would like a book of 100 Marketing Tips written just for small business owners then do have a look here. I wrote this book to be easy to read cover to cover or to be kept as a reference to dip in and out of!

About Me

Shona Chambers Marketing is a Marketing Agency based in SE London.

Specialising in helping Small Business Owners and Freelancers with their Marketing.

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