The best small business books turn out to be some of the best business books to read. The same principles that govern running a mom-and-pop store also apply whether you’re heading a future unicorn startup or a multinational corporation. Sure, you can read Shoe Dog, about the founding of Nike, or High Output Management, written by the former Intel CEO – but they don’t deal with the same concerns or issues. 

Small businesses are tough. Small business owners face a certain level of isolation or loneliness as they struggle. And there are some common traps or pitfalls that plague the small and medium businesses that are important to avoid – these books will help you avoid some.

But you want to go beyond knowing what books to read. You should go further actually to read the books. That’s what makes all the difference in your quest for business success.

1. Best Book on Entrepreneurship for a Small Business Owner: The Startup Owner’s Manual by Steve Blank and Bob Dorf

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Opportunity Analysis. Managing Failure. Customer Acquisition. Customer Retention.

You can use the Startup Owner’s Manual as an encyclopedia to start and scale your business. It’s one of the best books on entrepreneurship. The book teaches you how to find the right market for your products. And if you already have a market to target, it shows you how to find the right product for that market. You’ll also learn how to keep your customers while growing your client base.

Steve Blank is a startup expert. He’s created a Customer Development process that other small business people have tested and proven to be reliable. And he designed this book to help you replicate the success he enjoys.

You can make your business scalable by using the step-by-step approach that Steve and Bob provide here.

This book is quite popular and is useful for startups looking to launch and scale their businesses. The US National Science Foundation uses it. And leading universities, such as Stanford, Columbia, and U.C. Berkeley have adopted this book and its methodologies.

In this work, you’ll discover nine common, but deadly mistakes startups make and how to avoid them. This book employs specific tactics and strategies. So you won’t be left thinking of what to do when you’re done reading it. It includes checklists to help you hit the ground running from the get-go.

Key Takeaways
  • Know the right market for your products and the right product for your market.
  • Learn how to manage customer retention while growing your business.
  • Startups often run into pitfalls. Be smart, prepare.

2. Best Book on Starting a Small Business: Mind Your Business by Ilana Griffo

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Product Development. Branding. Online Marketing. Small Business Tools.

If you want to make your business successful from scratch, Mind Your Business would teach you how to achieve that feat. This book is one of the best books on starting a business. You’ll learn how Ilana Griffo turned her passion into a side hustle, and then into a six-figures yielding company.

You get to be in control of your business, with this book serving as your manual to create a customized roadmap that’s not just about brand development or product design, but also taxes & legal preparation. There are also ideas on how to beat competitors with social media and SEO; guidelines on how to protect your assets legally, including intellectual assets; identifying your ideal customers and tools for effective budgeting & forecasting.

Aspiring entrepreneurs are ambitious, self-motivated, and creative. And if you’re determined to build a business that suits the lifestyle you desire, having drive and self-motivation isn’t negotiable. While there are benefits to starting your own business, the “secret” to success is hard work and having a plan.

Key Business-Starting Lessons
  • Develop a thorough success roadmap for your product and brand
  • Learn to use social media and SEO as a competitive advantage
  • Tools are vital to your business success
  • Know what tools to use and how to use them

3. Best Book on Small Business Budgeting: Profit First by Mike Michalowicz

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Budgeting. Profits. Simplified Accounting.

If humans were always logical, the conventional accounting formula would be perfect. The formula says when you take away expenses from sales, you get Profit. But somehow, it’s not that simple.

Mike Michalowicz took into consideration that humans won’t always make logical decisions. So, he approached accounting from a behavioral angle. He flipped the formula to say, “you get Expenses when you take away Profit from Sales.” Hence, Profit First. It’s quite shrewd – every bit of wastage or unnecessary spending eats into Profit instead of expenses – suddenly, every cent matters, every cent hurts.

In losing weight, some experts say that Caloric Deficit is the most effective strategy. You eat from smaller plates to control your portions. That’s about the method Michalowicz adopts in this book.

His Profit First formula shows that you’ll succeed better when you think in terms of taking Profit first, and then using what you have left.

Profit First is a practical book with many case studies, advice, and a unique sense of humor.

Key Budgeting Lessons
  • You can manage a profitable business and simplify accounting.
  • If you make and maintain profit early on in your business, you’ll sustain the business longterm.
  • You’re better off with a small, profitable business than a large one that’s struggling to survive.

4. Best Book on Small Business Bookkeeping: Quickbooks by Michael Kane

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Small Business Accounting. Bookkeeping. Payments. Payroll. Taxes.

First off, CandyBar isn’t endorsing Quickbooks. You can use any bookkeeping tool to achieve the same results you’ll find in this book. But Michael Kane’s Quickbooks is, by far, the best book for small business bookkeeping.

If you’re not a fan of mathematics, bookkeeping and accounting can be annoying as hell. Not every business owner likes accounting, auditing, and numbers. But for the good of your business and the sake of the law, get your books right.

If you’re looking for a book on bookkeeping for small business owners, then you can stop here. No, you don’t have to learn this skill from scratch. Kane’s Quickbooks is a “business development for dummies” kind of book.

You’ll learn how to use Quickbooks – or any other bookkeeping software – to streamline your accounting processes. In that way, you only get to do things you’d rather be doing. This book is useful for everyone, including students, business owners, managers, and entrepreneurs. It’s very comprehensive and practical. Again, any tool will work just as well – but this book shows how to integrate Quickbooks into every aspect of your business.

Key Bookkeeping Lessons
  • You don’t have to be a professional accountant to keep your books.
  • With the right tools, you can handle bookkeeping and accounting on your own
  • Manage your records and avoid legal issues

5. Best Book on Hiring for a Small Business: Who by Geoff Smart and Randy Street

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Hiring Methods. Interview Questions. Discovering Candidates.

On average, hiring mistakes cost companies at least $1.5 million yearly. As for the success rate for a typical hiring process, it stands at 50 percent. And that’s apart from the time wasted in the process.

Scary right? Economists term the hiring problem, “the single biggest problem in business today.”

But the good news? You can tackle this problem successfully. Who is a practical and straightforward book on the hiring subject. Geoff and Randy wrote this book based on 300 CEOs and 20 billionaires. And yes, 1300 hours of interviews. Their A Method has a 90 percent chance of success as the fundamentals are easy to learn.

Don’t let the fact that the book draws advice from CEOs and billionaires intimate you. The authors set out to bring the lessons to practice for small business owners. You’ll find out how successful businesses draw the right team members into their organisations, but also distinguish between potential candidates into the right interview questions.

When you do the hiring process right, you’re more than halfway to succeeding in business.

Key Hiring Takeaways
  • Employ only people that can represent you completely
  • Define your expectations when hiring
  • Avoid wrong hiring methods
  • To meet optimal success, place the right people in the right positions

6. Best Book on Marketing for a Small Business: The 1-Page Marketing Plan by Allan Dib

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Marketing Strategies. Pricing. Product Promotion. Effective Sales Tactics.

If you want your business to succeed, then you must focus on what matters. Stop random marketing and use a reliable plan. Most business owners don’t have business plans because they feel it’s challenging to create or that it’s a waste of their time.

In The 1-Page Marketing Plan, Allan Dib shows a fast and straightforward way to create a marketing plan. His template is a single page that’s divided into nine squares.

Dib makes building a marketing plan so simple. His book practically demolishes all barriers to creating a fantastic marketing plan. So now you can build yours.

In this book, you’ll learn not only how to improve your client base and increase your profit from existing ones, to even making use of direct response marketing to achieve great results on a low budget. Dib designed the strategies he shares in this book to apply to your small business.

Key Marketing Takeaways
  • Marketing strategies for big businesses can destroy your small business if you try to implement them
  • How to make sales without irritating your customers
  • Ways to cancel out the competition and be the only one in your space
  • You can’t succeed in business by following random marketing plans

7. Best Book on Starting a Small Business With No Money: The Power of Broke by Daymond John

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Motivation. Drive. Commitment. Case Studies.

One of the best books for starting a small business is The Power of Broke. Daymond John started his business on a $40 budget, selling T-shirts from home. Now FUBU is a $6 billion global brand. It might sound cliché, but he had a plan to promote his products.

This FUBU founder and ABC’s Shark Tank star shows that being broke shouldn’t be a reason to be a liability. As an entrepreneur, you can make “broke” your competitive advantage. It forces you to cut your spending while you think up creative ways to market your product.

A few of the case studies that might inspire you from this book include,

  • Mo Bridges, a Shark Tank 11-year old guest who sewed a winning clothing line using his grandma’s machine
  • The EDM deejay, Steve Aoki, who became a superstar in the music industry by trading a series of $100 gigs
  • The cleaning lady, Gigi Butler, who built a cupcake empire on a family recipe and pure faith
Key Startup Lessons
  • Being broke is not a reason to be lazy
  • Before you start a business, check out some of the best startup books
  • Make success your only option when you have nothing

8. Best Book on Strategy for Small Business: The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber

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Managing Business Assumptions. Understanding Growth. Managing Growth. Strategy.

You may have heard the myth that small business owners are entrepreneurs. Or, that when an individual understands the technicalities of a business, then they can run it. Well, those are some of the myths that Michael E. Gerber bursts in this revised version of his bestseller, The E-Myth.

The E-Myth dispels most of the myths associated with starting a business. Gerber says myths can affect your business. He argues that expertise, assumptions, and expectations can hinder you from running a successful business.

With insights from experience, he’ll show you the various stages of business growth.

  • Entrepreneurial infancy
  • Pains of growth (adolescence)
  • Entrepreneurial perspective (Maturity)

You’ll learn how to incorporate franchising to any business, even if that wasn’t the original design. You’ll also learn that “working on your business” is different from “working in your business.”

Key Strategy Takeaways
  • Vet the ideas, comments, and suggestions you receive and don’t take them “hook, line, and sinker.”
  • Seek out the opinion of people with more experience than you on a subject or venture
  • Business growth happens in stages.
  • You must know your business’s stage and understand what works.

Bonus Book on Entrepreneurship: Zero to One by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters

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Innovation. Demand. Supply. Market Evolution.

“The next generation of successful entrepreneurs will make completely new things—not just updates of our existing products” Peter Thiel

Only a few people know of frontiers not yet discovered. And you’re yet to see new inventions that no one has created. Let Peter Thiel and Blake Masters show you how to create new things.

In Zero to One, Thiel feels that we still live in an era of stagnation in Technology. Despite the rapid improvement in IT, entrepreneurship shouldn’t be all about Silicon Valley or computers.

When you do something that already exists, then you’ve not added anything new. But when you do something unfamiliar, you go from zero to one.

To be a champion of tomorrow, you won’t be competing in today’s marketplace. You can’t be the next Bill Gates by building Operating System. You must escape competition to be a unique creator.

Key Takeaways
  • Consider challenges and opportunities that others are not seeing
  • Come up with outstanding solutions that others are not looking into yet
  • Quit trying to solve something that’s no longer a problem

In Conclusion: Reading to Succeed

Whether you’re creating something new or competing in an existing market, you need to succeed. These books would prove to be useful at different stages of your business.

These are your best books for business, especially for small enterprises, companies, and startups. Reading them might open your eye to pain points that you might not have noticed. Or you might discover fresh insights to challenges you’ve been battling.

But, more importantly, these volumes provide you with sound strategies and guides to tackle your most daunting business challenges.

Nicholas Godwin

Posted by Nicholas Godwin

Nicholas Godwin helps businesses tell profitable stories that their audiences love. He's worked on projects for Fortune 500 companies, global tech corporations and top consulting firms, from Bloomberg Beta, Accenture, PwC, and Deloitte to HP, Shell, and AT&T. You can catch Nicholas on TechContentLabs or say hello on Twitter.