What Business Owners Are Reading — Experts Weigh In

We recently wrote about what’s currently sitting on the MyCorp bookshelf, and it got us thinking… what are other entrepreneurs reading right now? So we asked our small business experts about what they’ve been reading and the lessons they’ve been learning.

Here’s what they had to say:

1. “I’m currently reading a book called “Extreme Ownership,” written by former Navy SEALs. 

In the book, “Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win” by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, the authors discuss how leaders must take ownership of everything around them and their environment in order to achieve their objectives. 

That goes for your subordinates, your coworkers, and even your superiors both in the business world and in military life. 

So often we are quick to make excuses as to why we didn’t achieve certain objectives, but when we exercise extreme ownership as leaders, we are responsible for everything that goes on in our world. 

When a group of Navy SEALs embarks on a mission there are no excuses if they cannot execute on their objective.” –Bryan Clayton, GreenPal

2. “I’m currently reading, “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck” by Mark Manson. Not exactly a business book, but it is a great book on philosophical ideas that an entrepreneur can use for their life to prioritize problems. The points Mark makes are negative, but give you positive feelings and insights on life. The book is very stoic in thought and foundation (where stoicism teaches: you may not control what happens to you, but you do control how you *respond* to what happens to you). Definitely a must read for entrepreneurs.” –Danny Garcia, Stacklist.com

3. ““Twelve Against the Gods.” It features biographies of 12 historical figures, from Alexander the Great to Woodrow Wilson. The core idea of this book, which I love, is that greats throughout history are typically remembered for the one incredible thing at which they excelled – yet we forget that many were absolute failures at most everything else. Bolitho hilariously depicts the rise and downfall of some of the most familiar names in world history.” –Daniel Nyiri, 4U Fitness

4. “I am reading “The E-Myth Revisited” by Michael Gerber. It is a phenomenal way of looking at business. I have learned that your business needs to be devised of systems that can use interchangeable people so that your customers will get a consistent and dependable product every time. Michael goes into stories about how some of the best companies in the world do business and it is a really easy read.” –Shawn Schweier, Alter Shift

5. “I’m currently reading “Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business,” by Gino Wickman, which has helped me get a high level perspective on how all the parts of the business work together. I’ve found it’s very easy for me to get involved in the day-to-day details of running a business and lose track of the greater vision. What I particularly like about this book is it’s very hands-on with worksheets and checklists so it feels very actionable.” –Larissa Pickens, Float.Design

6. “I am currently rereading “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” by Dale Carnegie. This book has taught me how to befriend, get along with, work with, or make another person feel important no matter how different they are from me. These skills are unbelievably valuable for obvious reasons. These abilities intersect with virtually every area of business. Form selling clients, to finding and building high quality employees, this book has helped propel me to success more so than any book about small business accounting ever did. 

My absolute favorite part about this book is that it’s a living testament to what other highly successful people do. I’ll take that over any book that teaches economics, accounting, or HR.” –Anthony Martin, Choice Mutual

7. “As the founder and CEO of a new ecommerce startup, I believe wholeheartedly in valuing our customer as if they were our one and only customer at all times, a mantra that is discussed at length in Zappos’ CEO Tony Hsieh’s “Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose.” Hsieh describes how crafting a company culture that emphasizes putting the customer first has created a truly impassioned organization. I believe in his message so much that it’s required reading for all of my employees.” –Gary Li, FortheChef.com

8. ““The Fish That Ate the Whale.” This is the story of a small Russian banana businessman, Sam Zemurray, who overtook the largest fruit company in the world in the early 1900’s. No matter what obstacles he ran into, he found a solution. Fascinating look at how a small business person can compete against a large company.” –Todd Mulbarger, Ridgewood Enterprises, Inc.

9. “I just finished Herminia Ibarra’s “Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader” (2015) after reading one of her shorter articles on Harvard Business Review. Because my background and degrees are in the fine arts and not in business, I’ve always been sensitive to finding ways to improve my leadership and her writing is both articulate and actionable. I appreciate that her advice and writing style is geared towards people who are self-aware and sincere, and not towards the more common take-no-prisoners management style.” –Mike Catania, PromotionCode.org

10. “My favorite brain fuel right now is “Smarter Faster Better” by Charles Duhigg— an engaging read where the author shares all sorts of fascinating secrets of being productive in both life and business. He explains how in today’s world, managing how you think rather than what you think can transform your life. Not only has the book helped me reassess my daily motivation and goals, it’s helped me create some interesting new productivity hacks to allow me to get things accomplished smarter, faster and better.” –Lori Cheek, Cheekd

11. “Currently I am reading “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell. In this book, Gladwell tries to dissect some of the traits that successful people have in common. One of the main concepts in the book that is particularly interesting is his 10,000-hour rule. The principle suggests that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master your field of study. Before I read this book, I had spoken with various professionals about this, and most said that it takes about five years to become an expert in your field. And I tended to agree with this as well. Well, I did the math and it seems 10,000 hours is equivalent in time to about five working years. Isn’t that interesting?” –Vic Patel, Forex Training Group

12. ““The Dice Man” is a story about a successful, happily married middle aged man who decides to drop everything and live every decision in his life by the roll of a dice. So far I’m about 3/4 through the book, and I can already safely say that it has changed my life. I’ve always considered myself to be a determined person, and I’ve probably made more sacrifices than most to pursue my entrepreneurial dreams, but this book has reminded me that I should never let my work life override my person life. After all, I’m working hard so I can enjoy my life.” –Max Robinson, Ace Work Gear

13. “I highly recommend “Boss Life: Surviving My Own Small Business” by Paul Downs. This book does a fantastic job of highlighting the problems that small businesses face and how to overcome them in practical and value adding ways. I enjoyed the way Paul Downs talks about hiring new employees and have learned a lot about perspective and how to identify and help grow solid workers. This is a must read for any entrepreneur that is preparing to expand a business.” –Evan Harris, SD Equity Partners

14. “The book I am currently reading and learning a great deal from is “Launch,” by Jeff Walker. It is a deep look at launching products and services on the internet. Jeff has amazing insights and a track record for millions upon millions of dollars made through internet product launches. The book takes you step by step, covers in-depth details, and teaches you about building relationships and ultimately dominating your industry through your successful launch. Jeff’s methods would be considered advanced growth hacking with a personal touch. I am truly excited about the great strategies I am learning, and look forward to implementing what I can in my own business.” –Jess Tiffany, Marketing and Networking University

15. “I’m reading “Million Dollar Consulting,” by Alan Weiss. It’s targeted towards people who want to create a successful consulting business but there’s so much to learn for different types of businesses. One of my key takeaways is to avoid reducing your rates if a client tries to negotiate with you. If they are persistent then show them clearly what value they lose by paying less. Usually the client doesn’t want to receive less and will pay the rate you deserve.” –Neil Sheth, Your Brand Found

16. “I am currently reading the book, “Rework.” After having read a lot of the typically required business books while in business school, I have found Rework to be clear, focused, and to the point. It provides a strong sense of reality, what’s important, and what’s useless in business creation and building. Rework should be a quintessential reference point for all entrepreneurs.” –Callie Groth, BrockTek

17. “Currently reading “Thinking, Fast and Slow,” by Daniel Kahneman. The book provides great insight and studies on how we look at problems, process the information and make a decision. Sometimes, decisions can be made quickly – sometimes they take great processing power and focus to make a decision. The risk is applying the wrong line of thinking when solving a problem. . For entrepreneurs, this book has really helped me be more cognizant of the decisions, both short-term and long-term, that I have to make in the best interest of the company.” –Terence Channon, SaltMines Group, LLC

18. “My top recommendation is “The 4-Hour Workweek,” by Timothy Ferris. A must read for any entrepreneur. This book teaches how to work smart and not hard to accomplish your goals and then some! I have employed strategies from the book to increase productivity and eliminate nonessential tasks (through outsourcing). Other strategies have helped me to create passive income and to have more time for my family. Overall, this book has enabled me to become a better and smarter business owner, father and husband.” –Chris Abrams, Abrams Insurance Solutions

19. “I’m reading “Start with Why,” by Simon Sinek. It makes you rethink what you are saying to your customers, and how to say it more effectively, and why. I find this book to be a true source of encouragement and motivation on how pioneers and innovators should lead. The main idea: When you’re a strong believer in the why of your organization’s purpose and ethics, decisions are incredibly easier-and you share an affinity with your employees and the customers you serve.” –Brandon Welch, PhD, Doxy.me

20. “The book that I am currently rereading is “The Five Love Languages,” by Gary D. Chapman. Not the normal book you hear from tech entrepreneurs probably, but it’s one of my all-time favorites because it shows the importance of communication in all facets of life. This helps me better my communications in work and otherwise.” –Armin Gafurovic, LawnStarter Lawn Care

21. “I’m reading “Traction,” by Justin Mares. Traction does a great job outlining the different channels one can use to get paying customers and achieve growth. The most important change I’ve made due to reading this book is splitting my time between getting more customers (growth) and building our product.” –Alex Kehaya, ActionWins.co

22. “My current read is “The Effective Manager,” by Mark Horstman. 

This book has totally changed how I manage my team of direct reports. I now have weekly 30-minute meetings with each team member individually, I give concise results-based feedback multiple times a day and both my team’s performance and job satisfaction have gone up. I initially got hooked on the plethora of podcasts Mark has put out but his book has been an excellent read as well.” –Steve Shwetz, Mesa Property Management Inc.

23. “My favorite business book to date is “Big Magic,” by Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s one of those books that radiate inspiration and literally make you want to put it down, not because you’re bored of reading it, but because she’s constantly igniting a creative spark that you didn’t know you had. It’s a definite must-read for anyone looking for motivation to help them progress in their own business.” -Mariah Liszewski, Mariah Magazine Web Design

24. “Chris Guillebeau’s “The $100 Startup” changes the game on how to plan and stand up a micro business by discussing traveling and living instead of head-down hustling like most others. Totally have to mention “The Power Of Now” by Eckhart Tolle as well. Not a traditional business book it can help future focused entrepreneurial minds stay present and execute with unmatched peace and ease.” -Mys Palmer, Branded Voice LLC

25. “Right now I’m reading “Unconscious Branding: How Neuroscience Can Empower (And Inspire) Marketing,” by Douglas Van Praet. It’s insightful look into the science and psychology of how marketing impacts consumer behavior. It certainly is giving me ideas on how to better serve our clients and create content for them that will connect and resonate more deeply with their target customers.” -Julie T. Ewald, Impressa Solutions