I have an odd question for you:
When was the last time you read a business book?
It seems like the last way you’d want to spend your time.
After all, you have family obligations, financial obligations, three works in progress on your laptop. What you need is time, money, and energy, not another reading list—especially a list of dry business books.
Let’s face it. You’d pursue another career if you wanted to read about sales and marketing. You need more solitude, more inspiration, more help with the writing craft.
Why would you want to waste time on business?
I have two more:
- How’s your business running: your author/writing business?
- How well are you converting your passion into an income?
I thought so.
Creatives often need help developing a business mindset, a mindset that enhances the writing, a mindset that can help writers like you turn your work into a reliable living.Creatives often need help developing a business mindset, a mindset that enhances the writing, a mindset that can help writers like you turn your work into a reliable living. Click To Tweet
But where to start?
You need a few shortcuts: books that stand the test of time, not the latest business fads that’ll fizzle out long before you get around to implementing them.
I’ve compiled a list of business classics: books that focus on enduring principles, on strategies that’ll be relevant a year from now, strategies that’ll still work in ten or twenty years.
Start with the first recommendation; it’ll lay the foundation for organizing your writing life.
You can thank me later.
- 1 The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber
- 2 Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson, M.D.
- 3 The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
- 4 80/20 Sales and Marketing by Perry Marshall
- 5 Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim & Renee Mauborgne
- 6 Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
- 7 Selling the Invisible by Harry Beckwith
- 8 The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
- 9 Rubies in the Orchard by Lynda Resnick
- 10 Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation by Sally Hogshead
- 11 The Copywriter’s Handbook by Robert W. Bly
- 12 Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin
- 13 Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
- 14 The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell
- 15 Purple Cow by Seth Godin
- 16 A Whack on the Side of the Head by Roger Van Oech
- 17 Thinkertoys by Michael Michalko
- 18 The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey
- 19 Drunk Tank Pink by Adam Alter
- 20 Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber
This is the revised and updated edition of the 1986 bestseller.
A success guide for entrepreneurs and small business owners, the book explains what businesses need to do to survive and thrive.
Gerber introduces the different working personalities in a business: the entrepreneur, the manager, and the technician.
He later explains the importance of each personality and how to maintain balance among these to develop and run a successful business.
This book is a life changer. It focuses on systems, on creating and running a well-oiled business machine.
You’ll never look at your to do list the same way again.
Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson, M.D.
Released in 1998, this book became an instant bestseller.
Dr. Johnson beautifully explains the fact that things always change, and every organization needs to be prepared for the change.
The book tells the story of two mice moving through a maze and their reactions to the changes they experience.
The author takes less than 100 pages to drive home the point that change is inevitable, and it is better to be prepared than to stagnate and lose everything you’ve worked for.
This book perfectly describes the social media landscape. You learn a few tricks on your favorite platform, and you’re off to the races.
Your methods work beautifully until someone introduces a variable (usually the social media company).
Overnight, your strategy stops delivering results, and you’re back to square one, feeling lost and disillusioned. Without perspective, you may start to doubt your capabilities.
Who Moved My Cheese provides this much-needed perspective.
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
Steven Pressfield is a well-known author and has published many fiction and non-fiction books.
This book was originally intended for writers, but the principles described in the book are universal.
Since its release in 2002, the book has been embraced by military service members, entrepreneurs, filmmakers and people from all facets of life.
In the book, the author outlines a plan to conquer internal resistance, which prevents one from achieving greater success.
Encouraging you to work on your inner game, to shift your thinking and priorities to deeply value the work you do every day, Pressfield’s book offers transformational insights on common creative roadblocks such as resistance and fear:
“Resistance is directly proportional to love. If you’re feeling massive resistance, the good news is that it means there’s tremendous love there too.”
“The amateur believes he must first overcome his fear; then he can do his work. The professional knows that fear can never be overcome.”
80/20 Sales and Marketing by Perry Marshall
Perry Marshall is a successful marketing consultant and author.
This book represents his take on the Pareto principle, applied to the world of sales and marketing.
In the book, the author offers tools to save almost 80% of time while bringing in more clients and money.
There is also an online software included with the book. It also features an online single page cheat sheet.
This book will revolutionize the way you evaluate each stage of your writing and marketing plan.
More importantly, it reveals ways you could be settling for less, missing valuable opportunities for increased income.
Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim & Renee Mauborgne
The authors use the metaphor of a blue ocean to define expanding and competitor-free markets.
In the book, the authors share the results of their study of over 150 strategic business moves across 30 industries, arguing that lasting success in business is achieved by organizations that take time to create blue oceans.
We’re schooled from an early age to view competition as a natural and necessary part of life and business.
Blue Ocean Strategy helps you position yourself as a unique, viable entity, beyond the predictable limitations of competition.
Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
Dan Ariely taught behavioral economics at MIT when he published this book.
Dan argues that people behave irrationally, but in a predictable fashion.
Seeking a greater understanding of social norms and emotions helps us understand people: how consumers make choices, how we can better educate ourselves, and how we can create improved economic policies.
After reading Predictably Irrational, you’ll be able to understand and predict consumer behavior, positioning yourself for greater success.
There’s a big difference between how we think we behave and how we actually act and react.
Selling the Invisible by Harry Beckwith
This book is one of the few books that tell people how to sell intangible services.
The author argues that businesses that are focused on selling intangibles the way physical products were sold in the past are not likely to succeed.
Beckwith suggests that the consumers of today are looking for relationships.
He offers various ideas to enhance the perceived value of services.
Selling the Invisible is full of viable beginner and advanced marketing strategies.
It’s an easy read, and it deserves a place on your go-to shelf for marketing ideas and strategies.
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
Charles Duhigg is a Pulitzer Prize winning author, and in this bestseller, he explains the science behind the existence of habits, offering tools to change those habits.
Duhigg presents a range of scientific discoveries, arguing that the key to achieving success is to understand the workings of habits.
He shows how people can transform their lives, their businesses. and their communities by understanding habits.
Duhigg’s book is a how-to manual for the human brain. You’ll learn how to install new habits as well as how to deconstruct and remove bad habits.
Rubies in the Orchard by Lynda Resnick
Author Lynda Resnick is the woman behind brands such as Teleflora, Fiji Water, the Franklin Mint, and the uber-successful pomegranate juice Pom Wonderful.
In the book, the author argues that every business has some elements that offer intrinsic value and how well-thought marketing plans successfully uncover these elements and communicate the value to willing consumers.
Resnick’s book upends contemporary thinking, demonstrating the benefits of exceptional “in the box” thinking and marketing.
Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation by Sally Hogshead
Sally Hogshead suggests there are specific emotional triggers that can help marketers enhance their relationship with customers.
She reveals seven triggers used by big brands such as Walt Disney and FedEx to bring in consumers and reinforce their marketing message.
If you read nothing else this year, make it Sally Hogshead’s Fascinate.
The principles go far beyond business.
They can help you take your writing to the next level.
Learn how to hook and retain your readers’ attention.
The Copywriter’s Handbook by Robert W. Bly
Robert Bly was named Copywriter of the Year in 2007 by the American writers and artists. He has over 30 years of experience in various facets of marketing. In this book, he offers dozens of copywriting techniques that can help advertising managers, copywriters, creative directors, brand managers, and entrepreneurs write persuasive ad copy.
The book contains tips to create headlines, openings for sales letters, and various approaches to improve marketing messages.
Bly’s book is a great tool for the beginning copywriter. Learn how to restructure your titles and promotional materials to stand out in the marketplace.
Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin
In this bestselling book, the authors offer advice on how to overcome debt.
Providing tips on how to save the environment while saving money, the book also addresses ways to resolve inner conflicts surrounding the subject of money.
The book focuses on calculating your real hourly wage by considering everything you need to complete your job. It offers a fresh, challenging perspective on the ways we spend money.
This book is a game changer. Read it to understand your own personal relationship to money.
Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Author Daniel Kahneman is an acclaimed psychologist and a Nobel Prize winner in Economics.
In his book, he explains the two mind-based systems that determine how we think. Kahneman offers practical ideas and techniques to make better choices, offering insights on when to trust our intuition as well as the various benefits of thinking slow.
Like Ariely’s Predictably Irrational, this book opens your mind to the way humans really think and make decisions.
The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell
In this bestseller, author Malcolm Gladwell brilliantly describes the phenomenon of the tipping point, the moment when a particular trend or idea reaches critical mass and begins spreading like a virus.
He offers insights into how this phenomenon can be applied to the world of marketing and idea sharing.
Gladwell’s book is a must for the digital age.
Learn to recognize and predict trends in order to capitalize on their power.
Purple Cow by Seth Godin
Seth Godin, the popular author of bestselling marketing books, is also known for founding the once-popular Squidoo website.
In this book, Godin argues that the old method of marketing, the old TV commercial mindset of the past, no longer works.
Instead, today’s marketers should turn their focus toward “purple cows.” The purple cow is a metaphor for creating something remarkable, something that causes consumers to stop and take notice.
After reading, you can apply Seth’s strategies to all phases of your creative business.
A Whack on the Side of the Head by Roger Van Oech
Widely regarded as one of the best creative thinkers alive today, Roger von Oech offers exercises, questions, quotations, stories, puzzles, anecdotes, and other tips designed to break through mental blocks, clearing the way for creative thinking.
Van Oech’s book remains relevant, as groundbreaking today as it was over 25 years ago, when it was first released.
This is one of my all-time favorites. I keep a deck of the cards in my briefcase. These are invaluable tools for creativity, exploration, and problem solving.
Thinkertoys by Michael Michalko
More than 20 years have passed since the first edition of this book was published, but the principles remain fresh and relevant.
Author Michael Michalko offers various tools to facilitate creative thinking and problem solving.
Like Van Oech’s book, Thinkertoys will help you plan and orchestrate breakthroughs in your creative and business ventures.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey
The author of this book, Stephen Covey, never imagined the kind of success his book would achieve. 7 Habits has sold over 25 million copies.
This book has influenced politicians, educators, CEOs, and ordinary people, helping them improve their careers and lives. The book still continues to reach millions–even after 25 years of publishing.
When you find yourself feeling overwhelmed and/or frustrated with any stage in your business, return to the 7 habits for strength and clarity.
Drunk Tank Pink by Adam Alter
In this book, the author shares amazing insights into how our surroundings and environment affect our thinking and behavior.
In addition to statistics, Alter shares fascinating experiments demonstrating how color and other elements influence human behavior.
The examples are fascinating. Get ready for a mind-bending read.
Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
Making use of real-world data, Levitt and Dubner’s Freakonomics suggests that the field of economics amounts to little more than the study of incentives.
To illustrate their point, the authors expose the inner worlds of drug peddlers, campaign finance, the Klu Klux Klan, and much more.
Freakonomics is a thrilling ride, providing an unconventional look at life and business.
Now, to you.
What’s your favorite business classic?
Share your thoughts with our readers below.