I really love to read. I love to read so much, that I actually worked at a library in college. It was amazing; when patrons didn’t need help, I could read to my heart’s content. *sigh* I had an endless supply of books and because I had to shelve them, first dibs when new ones came in. It remains one of my favorite jobs to this day.
However, I’ve never been keen on reading business/self-improvement books, until I realized that I really wanted to start my own business. When you couple that with the fact that I am a researcher at heart anyway, I started inhaling a ton of books in order to be the best entrepreneur I can be.
Here are my absolute 10 favorites in no particular order:
48 Days to the Work You Love by Dan Miller – When I began having panic attacks and health issues at my day job, I realized something needed to change. I heard Dave Ramsey talk about this book several times over, and never picked it up. A little voice in my head said, “Now. Read it now” and I am so glad I did. I realized why I was falling into a pattern of giving my all at work only to be let down and end up discouraged; because I was working a job and not following a calling or passion. Dan recommends that you do work that you would do even if you weren’t getting paid to do it, and that is a philosophy that I intend to live by.
Do Over: Make Today the First Day of Your New Career by Jon Acuff – Jon Acuff makes this list not once, not twice, but three times. I adore him. He is so down to Earth and funny and his advice is always incredibly practical. Reading his books feels more like having a conversation with a friend than reading a self-improvement/motivational book. In this book, Jon talks about how you need to make investments in your career, in a career savings account so to speak. This is investing in relationships, skills, character, and hustle. His writing will simultaneously give you a step in the right direction and make you feel better all at once.
Quitter: Closing the Gap Between your Day Job and Your Dream Job by Jon Acuff – This book helped me when I was at the end of my rope at my day job. It prevented me from quitting way too soon. This book talks about how you need to use your day job to help finance your dream job and how to fall in “like” with your day job until you can make the transition. This book talked me off the proverbial ledge. Jon knows this from personal experience as he did what he refers to as the reverse Superman: he would go to conferences and speak over the weekend, take a flight home, and change his clothes in his day job restroom and get to work. It’s an excellent motivator and helps you keep life in perspective.
Start.: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average, and Do Work That Matters by Jon Acuff – Ok, I promise this is the final Jon Acuff book on my list. This is another really good book to get you up and motivated. It also explains how the linear path to a career used to look: you start low at a job, work your way up, earn a pension, retire, and then do something you love. Jon explains how the rules have changed, and how you can be starting new at 30, 40, or 50 in a career. He explains that there are 5 stages in the working life: Learning, Editing, Mastering, Harvesting, and Guiding. Jon also gives you sound advice for going through each stage in your career.
Business Boutique by Christy Wright – I actually finished and reviewed this one quite recently. I like it because it’s one-stop shopping for any woman who wants to start her own business. At the end of each chapter, there is a short exercise that essentially will help you assemble all of the pieces you need for a business plan. I love how Christy breaks a business into 4-tiers (yes, just like a cake): building a foundation, making it yours, getting the business up and running, and putting yourself out there. Christy isn’t afraid to discuss more difficult topics like taxes, business banking accounts, and marketing. I also like how she references Etsy frequently.
Money Making Mom by Crystal Paine. This book was full of so much wisdom. I love how Crystal shared mistakes that she made along the way, and explained that success isn’t overnight. It also stresses the importance of setting personal and financial goals, managing time well, and how to be more intentional with your actions. It also made me happy to see Crystal share teachable moments along her journey; ways that she failed along her journey to eventual success. Failure is inevitable when you’re learning, and I love that she didn’t mask it and make her career seem easy. I also really enjoyed how Crystal discusses working in your strengths, and finding something you truly love and care about to make your business focus. Because, as she warns, there will be bad days where all that will keep you going is the passion you have for that particular focus.
The $100 Start Up: Reinvent the Way you Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future by Chris Guillebeau – This book intrigued me as soon as I saw it as a recommended item on Amazon. Chris is in his 30’s (a little older than me) and he’s an ideas guy (also similar to me, so I recognize him as a kindred spirit). He has traveled all over the world basically sharing ideas and making money from it. Crazy, right? For this book, he analyzed 1,500 people who built successful businesses from a small investment (small being $100 or more). And it all stems from people doing things that they’re good at and love to do! Chris puts it in a simple how-to-guide, and there is a ton of practical advice in it. It’s definitely a good and motivating read.
Contagious: Why Things Catch on by Jonah Berger – Jonah Berger is a marketing professor that has spent a lot of time getting an answer to one question: What makes things popular? As you read this book, you can tell that Jonah did a ton of research for this book. He breaks down the science behind why things go viral, and how six principles guide what makes something popular (or not popular for that matter). If you are a small business owner trying to do marketing of any kind, design content, or are really trying to put a message out into the world, I definitely think this book is worth a read.
Entreleadership: 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches by Dave Ramsey – Those of you who have been reading my blog know that I greatly admire Dave Ramsey.So this book was a no brainer for me. He talks about hiring, making decisions, writing a solid mission statement for your business, and so much more. I feel this was one of the best I read, and I intend to go back and read chapters as situations arise. Dave is so up front, honest, and to the point in every book he writes. Dave definitely does not beat around the bush and I love that about him. He made reading this book educational and fun.
On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zissner -Full disclosure, I haven’t finished this one yet, I’m actually still reading it (review to come next week). However, I’m really enjoying it so far. The author breaks the process of writing into nice, manageable chunks. It’s also written in a memoir sort of style, which makes it much more personal. One thing that William wrote that really resonated with me and I feel sums up writing is that it’s a craft. It takes time and practice whether you’re a natural born writer or not, the only way you’ll get better at it is if you keep writing.
Phew! Are you tired? I’m tired. 😉 I hope you enjoyed this list, and I would love to hear what you think about these books. Happy reading!