Gotta Read ‘Em All: The Best Small Business Books of 2017

must-read business books

If I were a resolutions guy, I’d probably resolve to read more business books every January 1. And I’d probably break my resolution by mid-February.

Hey, I’m still slogging my way through “A Song of Ice and Fire.”

Fortunately, plenty of wicked-smart folks do read business books and then feature them in year-end best books lists. A tip of the old ball cap to Amazon, Financial Times, McKinsey & Company, Strategy + Business, and others.

Alas, they compile these lists for MBA types at big companies rather than for hard-ass solopreneurs and grinders like us. I mean, they released them right in the middle of the holiday ecommerce crush!

So, I sifted through the lists to find the books that seemed most relevant for us. So, in no particular order, these are the must-read business books of 2017.

Management: Take a Lesson in Honesty From Wall Street

The words hedge fund manager give a lot of folks the creeps. Ray Dalio leads Bridgewater Associates, the largest hedge fund in the world, a bit differently.

His new book “Principles: Life and Work” introduces his management philosophy, including his insistence that all team meetings are recorded and archived. It’s all a part of his focus on radical truth and radical transparency.

Now those aren’t terms we’d normally associate with Wall Street.

Why’d we pick it? It was one of Amazon’s must-read business books of the year and Tony Robbins called it “one of the most inspirational books he’s read recently.”

Performance: Don’t Just Get a Mentor. Get 140 of Them!

The author of “The Four-Hour Workweek” (aka, the one book that’s been on nearly every entrepreneur’s nightstand or, ummm, bathroom sink) is back.

In his new book, “Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World,” Tim Ferriss interviewed 140 entrepreneurs, investors, athletes, artists, and more about their life philosophies, habits, and routines.

Then, he broke it all down into bit-sized nuggets of knowledge and inspiration.

Why’d we pick it? Tim friggin’ Ferriss. Plus, as entrepreneurs like you, we love anything that makes the learning quick and easy.

Marketing: Identify – and Sell to – Your Superconsumers

A lot of us think the perfect product will catapult our business to the next level. Maybe we’ve been blinded by Apple’s success.

In “Superconsumers: A Simple, Speedy, and Sustainable Path to Superior Growth,” author Eddie Yoon demonstrates that you don’t need a super-sexy product.

You need a product that inspires passion in a core group of fans that’ll drive 30-70% of your sales despite making up just 10% of your customer base.

Why: Strategy + Business named “Superconsumers” the best marketing book of the year.

Finance: Break Through the Mental Blocks to Personal Wealth. 

Money management is one of my least favorite parts of running a business… and I know I’m not alone in that.

Sure, part of it is because of all the math. But part of it is the mental blocks, the silly bullshit we tell ourselves, that keep us from keeping the money we make.

In “Dollars and Sense: How We Misthink Money and How to Spend Smarter,” authors Dan Ariely and Jeff Kreisler break through the blocks – from opportunity costs to weighing spending against saving. All critical lessons for a small business owner.

Why’d we pick it: Business Insider said, “It’s the rare kind of book that makes you feel a lot smarter, while simultaneously giving you actionable tips for improving your daily life.” Sold!

Tenacity: Be a Goonie – or a Janesville-ian – and Never Say Die.

The struggles of the middle class are well-documented. What’s received less coverage is how hard-working, entrepreneurial folks are working to overcome those challenges by hosting an Airbnb, driving an Uber, or selling homemade goods online.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Amy Goldstein’s book “Janesville: An American Story” takes a look at a Wisconsin town that’s fighting back after losing its General Motors assembly plant during the recession.

Why’d we pick it: Financial Times and McKinsey named “Janesville” definitely one of the must-read business books of 2017. Plus, I love a great underdog story. Go get ‘em, Janesville!  

Five books not enough? These 8 business books and 12 other books to read were recommended by Scott’s Marketplace teammates and friends.

What must-read business books are on your list for 2018?

About the Author

Matt Simpson

Matt is a freelance writer for The DRIVE blog with expertise in digital marketing, social media, and copywriting. He's active in the #yesphx startup movement and has been recognized by AdWeek, Mashable, and more for digital innovation. Visit Matt's website or follow Matt on Twitter.


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