A lot of what we read is for pure entertainment and escapism. But one of the best ways to learn more about running and growing your business is by adding a few small business books to your reading mix.

What was the last book you read? Did it illuminate your ability to run your business or simply entertain you for a few hours?

While there’s always room for literary illumination and entertainment, it’s worth stacking your shelves with a few books which will help your business venture become a success.

Instead of scrolling social media, grab one of these and start turning pages.

1) The Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Start-up

by Noam Wasserman

As you sail into the small business world for the first time, there are many sharp reefs lurking under the surface waiting to sink your ship. Identifying such hazards and navigating them – while keeping your eye on the prize – is the aim of the game.

Using real world examples to illustrate both success and failure, this book could save you from having to learn lessons the hard way. Focusing on business structure, relationships, and ways of dividing responsibility, this is direct, grounded and extremely useful advice for any entrepreneur.

If you’re looking for a vivid and straightforward cautionary guide for start-up success, this may well be it.

Key lessons:

  • how to start a business on the right footing
  • when to outsource and when to go it alone
  • business relationship tactics
  • investment and funding advice
  • ways to structure your startup
  • avoiding critical mistakes

2) Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

by Robert B. Cialdini

There are marketing technique books, sales tips books, and psychology books. Then there’s this bad boy, perfect for any small business book collection. Based on decades of rigorous, evidence based and original research, this guide to persuasion stands as one of the most useful and respected in this field.

Whether you’re looking for a solid basis for your marketing and sales tactics, or brushing up on how to drive behavioural change, this one is a great addition to your bookshelf.

Key lessons:

  • how to become a skilled persuader
  • how to defend yourself against other persuaders
  • understanding behaviour patterns and how to change them

3) Will It Fly?
How to Know if Your New Business Idea Has Wings … Before You Take the Leap

by Thomas K. McKnight

An excellent pre-emptive read designed to prepare you for the leap into starting your own business. If you have a founding idea and are looking for guidance on how to (or whether to) start a business on the strength of your idea, look no further.

This business book is structured as a 44-point assessment, filled with useful advice on everything from market competition, customer base, mindset and exit strategies.

If you have what you believe is a fantastic idea, it’s certainly worth putting it (and yourself) to the test by running it through this checklist of sorts.

Key lessons:

  • simple checklist format for evaluating a business idea
  • rationally assessing risk and opportunity
  • assessing your own preparedness for running a business
  • increasing odds of success

4) Profit First

by Mike Michalowicz

For any small business owner, the ability to budget, undertake basic accounting and understand revenue and profitability really underpins their chance of success.

While the formula of profit seems straightforward, as fallible beings, humans often make illogical decisions. This business book takes the approach of turning the regular profitability formula on its head by putting profitability first…

“You get expenses when you take away profit from sales.”

This is a shrewd, practical, and case study-driven take on how to go about making your venture financially successful.

Key lessons:

  • creating a profitable business in simple terms
  • streamlining accounting and budgeting
  • long term sustainability
  • how to be lean

5) The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

By Stephen R. Covey

“Every so often a book comes along that not only alters the lives of readers but leaves an imprint on the culture itself. The 7 Habits is one of those books.”

Daniel Pink, New York Times bestselling author of ‘When and Drive’.

High praise for one of the most well regarded and highly circulated books in the genre. This book covers a range of topics centred around mindful effectiveness in your pursuits.

If you want to drive your small business to a place of success and satisfaction, learning to form positive and effective habits is a clear advantage.

Key lessons:

  • taking control of your life with purposeful actions
  • making more intelligent and informed decisions
  • improving your relationships with family and friends
  • how to overcome negative habits
  • tips to improve your productivity
  • discovering a healthy work/life balance