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There’s a few non-negotiables if you run a business, but here’s one: as an entrepreneur, you need to spend time learning, all the time.
Some people enjoy taking courses, others enjoy reading books. I prefer the latter, and if you do too, I’ve put together a list of the best books I’ve read lately that have helped me grow professionally or personally.
Side: I’ve listed the books using my affiliate links meaning if you choose to buy any of the recommendations, I will make a commission. It’s also worth mentioning to check your local library first to see if any of these books are available. You can also download the Kindle app to your computer (even if you don’t have a Kindle) and get many of the books at a discounted rate from Amazon Kindle. Don’t forget you can sometimes buy used books on Amazon—also at a discounted rate.
Reach Out by Molly Beck
I loved Molly Beck’s book Reach Out. As an introvert, I’ve always struggled with networking. Not because I’m shy (I’m not) but because I find it incredibly draining, so I never end up networking.
And with COVID, networking is even more challenging.
Molly provides tips for growing your network via your email. She dives into the science behind why have a strong network of weak ties—people you aren’t super close with—is actually better than having a network with strong ties.
If you’re someone who doesn’t enjoy networking but wants to get better at it, or if you’re someone who wants to learn more effective ways of networking, read this book.
Contagious by Jonah Berger
Topic: Creating viral content
Jonah Berger has developed a framework for creating viral content that your audience loves. This book was an easy read and helped me start identifying why people enjoyed certain pieces of my content over others. Figuring that out was essential to creating even more content my audience would enjoy.
Pre-suasion by Robert Cialdini
This is one of my top recommended books, and there’s a reason why I’ve read it over and over. Robert Cialdini is a psychologist turned marketer. In his book Pre-suasion, he teaches you how to capture people’s attention right before the critical moment where you ask them to do something (i.e., buy your offer, sign up for your newsletter).
His book is intriguing, insightful, and eye-opening, and in my opinion, is a must for any small business owner.
The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp
If you want to learn new ways to harness your creative ability, check out Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit. Tharp offers a framework with various tips to help you come up with your next big idea.
As you go through the book, you can work through the various exercises she’s provided so the material really sinks into your mind.
You Are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero
Last year my husband and I bought our first home together, and I turned to him one evening and said, “now that we have a mortgage, do you ever worry that you’ll just stop making money…because I worry my business will fail.“
He went and got me this book a few days later. This book was perfect for me who, at the time, felt zero confidence about my ability to run a thriving business. I was perpetually worried I’d screw up and lose it all. I learned a lot about confidence through this read.
Get Rich, Lucky Bitch by Denise Duffield-Thomas
On the topic of money mindset, another book I enjoyed was Denise Duffield-Thomas’ Get Rich, Lucky Bitch.
Reading this booked gave me confidence to invest in myself and my business. To put it lightly, I was being unintentionally stingy with my business investments because again, I was nervous that I’d make the wrong move and lose a bunch of money.
Reading this helped give me confidence. If you feel the same way with your business, I’d read both You Are a Badass at Making Money and Get Rich, Lucky Bitch.
Side note: Denise Duffield-Thomas also has a book called Chillpreneur that came highly recommended to me as well. I got it from the library and flipped through it but didn’t get a chance to finish it before I had to return it.
Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss
Negotiating is an important part of business. Chris Voss is an ex-FBI hostage negotiator who wrote this book detailing his negotiation tactics. My negotiating strategies were non-existent prior to this book, and directly after, I managed to negotiate a 52% reduction in an on-going monthly service I pay for.
Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath
Topic: Creating content
As a writer, I write a lot—between content for my own portfolio of websites and for my clients. And that content needs to capture the attention of my readers right away—and hold their attention—otherwise I’ll lose them to a competitor.
Made to Stick teaches you how to come up with ideas that “stick” or resonate with your audience.
As a writer, this book helped me understand how I can create “sticky” content.
If you’re a business owner, this book will help you come up with new products that your audience will love.
What Every Body is Saying by Joe Navarro
Topic: Body language
Joe Navarro is another ex-FBI agent turned author. Navarro breaks down body language so you know what people are actually thinking, regardless of what they say.
Is this book useful for business?
If you do in-person negotiations, absolutely. Otherwise, this book is more useful for day-to-day life. Watching someone’s body language can give you clues as to what they’re thinking and how they’re feeling. Knowing that, you steer the conversion how you’d like. For example, if you notice a friend seems uncomfortable about a certain topic but isn’t explicitly sharing their discomfort, you know to change the subject.
The Automatic Customer by John Warrillow
Topic: Recurring revenue
As a solopreneur, I’m always interested in learning about new ways to scale my business without hiring big teams. John Warrillow breaks down several different methods of creating a subscription business no matter what niche or industry you’re in.
At this moment in time, I have no desire to teach a course, but Warrillow goes beyond the traditional teaching-subscription model and offers many more ideas.
The Storyteller’s Secret by Carmine Gallo
What’s the best marketing tactic you can apply to any business? Telling stories. Stories are highly effective at making people pay attention to what you have to say.
The Storyteller’s Secret gives plenty of examples on the art of storytelling, and how businesses (some just like yours) have used stories to grow their business to new heights.
I loved all the examples in each chapter—hearing them inspired me to think of how I can start weaving stories into my own business.
The Ultimate Sales Letter by Dan Kennedy
The Ultimate Sales Letter was the first copywriting book I read. While this book talks primarily about sales letters, the theory still applies to a range of copywriting projects, like landing pages, sales pages, emails, and even social media copy. It’s a great place to start if you want an easy introduction into copywriting.
The Adweek Copywriting Handbook by Joseph Sugarman
Joseph Sugarman is a legendary copywriter, and on top of The Adweek Copywriting Handbook being highly informative, it’s also entertaining to read.
In his book, he outlines the exact steps you can take to write high-converting copy. There are plenty of examples to illustrate each point he makes.
Breakthrough Copywriting by David Garfinkle
This book is another great introduction to copywriting. It’s not super dense and walks the reader through the different components you’ll see within sales copy. I liked how this book provided templates for headlines and bullet points to make your copy stronger. While following templates doesn’t mean you’ll get the best results, it’s always nice for beginners to have a few different templates they can build off for inspiration.
Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy
Topic: Advertising and marketing
David Ogilvy was a brilliant advertiser and has written several books. While I haven’t finished this one, it’s a great look at the world of advertising. This book takes a look at some very successful ads from commercials to sales letters and discusses why they work so well.
However, keep in mind that Ogilvy published this book in the 80s. While none of the information is outdated, you don’t find any advice on social media in here. But you will find extra information on top of advertising, like how to start your own ad agency and how to get clients.
Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz
If copywriting is something you want to master, this book is one you absolutely need. But don’t read this book first if you’re a beginner. I’d advise reading something like The Adweek Copywriting Handbook or The Ultimate Sales Letter prior to digging into Breakthrough Advertising.
Breakthrough Advertising is akin to the textbooks you’d read for school. It’s dense. It’s dry. And it requires plenty of brainpower to get through.
But oh my, is it ever useful. I plan to read this book until it’s ragged. It’s definitely one of the best copywriting books out there.
PS the only place to buy this book is from here. You can buy used copies on Amazon but they’re usually more expensive…and this book isn’t cheap to begin with!
Great Leads by Michael Masterson and John Forde
If you follow up Breakthrough Advertising with any book, make it be Great Leads. Great Leads dives into six different copywriting leads (the lead is the first part of your copy).
This book builds off Gene Schwartz’s principals in Breakthrough Advertising which is why I recommend following up Schwartz’s book with this one.
It’s another book I highly recommend.
Savvy in SEO by Dana Nicole
I had to include my own book one this list 🙂
You need to understand SEO if you want your content to rank. I spent years honing my skills around writing content that ranks, and to save you the trouble—and heartache—of piecing it together yourself, I documented my exact step-by-step process in this ebook.
And that’s all for now! I’ll continue to add to this list as I read more books that I think you may find useful. For 2022, I’d like to re-read some of my copywriting books and focus on self-development.
And of course, I’ll be mixing some horror books in the mix 🙂
What are some of your favorite books? Drop your recommendations below!
This article may include affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Dana Nicole is an award-winning freelance writer for MarTech/SaaS who was rated one of the best SaaS writers by Software World. She specializes in writing engaging content that ranks high in search engines and has been featured in publications like Social Media Examiner, ConvertKit, and Hotjar. Dana holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and has over 15 years of experience working in marketing for national brands.