I love to read. Growing up I used to devour books like there was no tomorrow.
Those summer library reading contests they had when I was growing up? I’d demolish them.
On Christmas morning my parents used to give us a stocking with things to do so they could sleep longer and what was always in mine? A book. And most times I’d get about half way through before we unwrapped presents.
What did I ask for this year for my birthday? Money to buy more books.
So it should come as no surprise that I’ve got a few business books that I’d recommend all online business owners should read. In this list are 6 books I highly recommend reading this year if you’re getting serious about your business and are working to step into the CEO role even more.
I do want to note that several of the books listed below were written with larger companies in mind, but the concepts and lessons in each of them can be tweaked and applied to smaller businesses.
01. Profit First by Mike Michalowicz
Profit First is one of the few financial books I’ve read, and has been the most influential when it comes to showing me the actual numbers and steps to take profit first and spend what remains on expenses. When I first started my business I was of the traditional mindset that your profit was your Sales – Expenses = Profit. But with Profit First, it changes the order of the equation to Sales – Profit = Expenses, therefore giving you a profitable business instead of one that is there just to spend money on expenses.
While I didn’t follow his exact method of creating the multiple bank accounts, I do track each of those numbers monthly in my growth tracker spreadsheet. For me this has been the best method and has allowed me to have one bank account, and still track what each dollar’s purpose is in checking and savings.
02. Rocket Fuel by Gino Wickman
Rocket Fuel is the book to read if you’re trying to learn more about being the Visionary (CEO) of your business or hiring an Integrator (OBM). It dives into the specific roles and relationship between the Visionary and the Integrator and includes a self-assessment to see if you are the Visionary or the Integrator. When I made the pivot to offer services as an Online Business Manager (OBM), this was the first book I read. It gave me a greater understanding of exactly how I could serve clients as their OBM, as well as being able to help my clients understand what their role as the CEO would look like.
Also included in Rocket Fuel is an accountability chart. As smaller online businesses oftentimes we struggle with understanding how to create an org chart as most of the ones we see tend to be focused on large companies or corporations. Rocket Fuel is one of the few books I’ve read that show what a smaller business org chart would look like. It also shows you some of the functions that each of those roles on the chart may have which I found really helpful especially when trying to come up with accountability charts for my business and my clients’.
03. Quiet Power Strategy by Tara Gentile
Quiet Power Strategy is all about quieting the noise around you and discovering your own path to running your business. “It’s about perceiving, discerning, and focusing on what is going to create the greatest opportunity for service while allowing you to leverage both how you work best and what you want most.”
Just as fixing your weaknesses isn’t always the answer, the solution here isn’t always to optimize the root behavior, routine, or tactic. Many times, it’s to find a new behavior, routine, or tactic that will work better based on the unique composition of the person, not convention.
Quiet Power Strategy wonderfully toes the line between being a personal development and business book. Throughout the whole book you’re encouraged to focus less on adding more “shoulds” to your to do list, and focus more on defining how you’ll create your own path in business no matter how that looks for you. And once you know what you’re creating and how you’ll connect with others it’s time to communicate that with your team (if you have one) and keep it somewhere visible so it stays at the top of your mind.
04. Essentialism by Greg McKeown
Essentialism is all about the dedicated and disciplined pursuit of less. One of the biggest issues entrepreneurs (and my clients) face is doing only what is essential and saying no to or delegating everything else. “If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.” If you’re not the one setting the boundaries and priorities of your life and business, someone else will do it for you.
After reading this book I set office hours, planned vacations (like the 2-week break I take for Christmas and New Years), and stopped working weekends. Now I’m not saying I don’t sometimes work on weekends or a little too long in a day or respond to a client’s Voxer message outside of my office hours, but it’s nothing like it used to be. I’ve decided what my priorities are going to be and setup boundaries to protect them. With my clients I’ve learned a neat little trick after reading Essentialism:
“We often know we can’t do things in a given time frame, but we don’t want to admit it to someone. … one way to protect against this is simply to add a 50% buffer to the amount of time we estimate it will take to complete a task or project.“
Just by adding a small buffer of time to how long I think something will take, I’ve been able to set more accurate expectations with my clients and myself.
05. The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber
The E-Myth Revisited is about the myth that most of those who start a small business are entrepreneurs and 3 types of people needed to run a successful business. The three types of people needed? An entrepreneur, a manager, and a technician. Or in online small business terms: a CEO, to cast the vision and bring in the clients; an OBM, to support the vision and the management of the business; and a VA, to do the work and implement what the OBM setup.
06. Traction by Gino Wickman
Traction is all about the 6 parts of the Entrepreneurial Operating System® in every business. As an Online Business Manager I’ve been learning more about the components of successful businesses and how to help my clients using that knowledge. The biggest part of all of that? Making sure the right people are in the right seats. When you don’t have the right team members doing the right job that’s when you’ll see more issues pop up.
Most entrepreneurs don’t understand how powerful process can be, but when you apply it correctly, it works like magic, resulting in simplicity, scalability, efficiency, and profitability.
While this book is aimed at larger companies, the foundational concepts are still relevant to small businesses. One of my favorite parts is that they include charts throughout the book to organize your businesses vision, create an org chart, document processes using the 80/20 rule and more. If you’re working to step into the Visionary and CEO role of your business, this is one of the books I highly recommend reading to help you understand how to better grow your business from a systems standpoint.
Wrapping it up
As much as I love reading, I didn’t always love to read books on business. That all changed when I found books that told stories, had concrete examples (and even charts!) and spoke in a language that didn’t require a business degree. I know how hard it is to find books that will actually help you grow your business and not just be all data or fluff, so I hope this list of business books was helpful!
One last tip for you as you go grab these books for yourself. Each time I start a new book I open my Content Dump project in Asana and start a new task with the book title. Then as I read the book, whether it’s a physical book or on theKindle app on my phone, I drop comments for each quote, question, or idea I come across. Doing this has eliminated the need for multiple notes or needing to pull out the book each time I wanted to remember a quote or idea I came across. My books all still definitely all have dog-eared pages, notes in the margins, and highlighted sections, but I prefer adding them to Asana so I can quickly grab a quote or question from the books I’ve read and use them in social media posts or emails I write to my list.
Drop a comment below and let me know—have you read any of these books (and what’d you think of them??) and what is your favorite that I should put on my list to read this year?