Summer Reading List: Business Book Recommendations

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Tips for Brainstorming by the Pool
We asked small business owners to share some of their favorite business books, magazines, and blogs. The response was overwhelming! Business people from a wide range of industries and backgrounds weighed in with their favorite titles and spoke quite passionately about how certain books changed their perspectives and ultimately their businesses for the better.

As we reviewed people’s responses, we saw themes emerge. People mentioned certain titles, like The Pumpkin Plan, A LOT. Another theme involved the amount of time people dedicate to reading. The one thing that all successful business owners seem to have in common is that they read. We’re not talking an hour here or there, but many hours a week, treating it like a part-time job in some cases.

If you’re thinking about checking out some new titles this summer, bookmark this list and consider adding some of the books, blogs, and magazines to your tote bag or tablet when you’re heading to the beach. Who says you can’t mix business with pleasure, right?

Happy reading!

1. The Pumpkin Plan: A Simple Strategy to Grow a Remarkable Business in Any Field by Mike Michalowicz. Denise Blasevick, CEO of The S3 Agency, says, “This quick, awesome read really got me to focus on growing my most important clients, pruning out the weedy clients, and finding unexpected ways to nurture the overall business. The a-ha moments are fun to hear about and easy to translate to one’s own business, very executable. And Michalowicz’s style makes it stand apart from boring business books.”

2. How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie. This oldie but goodie came up a lot, and no wonder. Michael Okhravi, founder of SpoilBox, explains, “This book is all about building and keeping relationships. It gives small, timeless tips for making better impressions (like spending time asking someone genuine questions about themselves) and making people you know feel special, appreciated, understood, and, ultimately, win their support of you. This book has helped me handle customers, create strategic partnerships, and manage employees. Its contents may seem rudimentary or self-explanatory. When you read it, you’ll go, ‘Duh! Of course I know that!’ and then you’ll realize that you don’t *actually* do it. If you don’t have a natural way with people or if you are somewhat cold and introverted, you will find great value here.”

3. Eat that Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy. Speaker, copywriter, and social media marketing consultant Gloria Rand appreciates the practical wisdom found in this book. “As a freelance writer working from home, it’s very easy to procrastinate, so this book helped improve my productivity,” she says. (She’s also a big fan of The Pumpkin Plan.)

4. The E Myth: Why Most Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael E. Gerber. Greig Whitton is the founder of Evergrow, which is an online business community that helps South African entrepreneurs grow their business. He considers The E Myth a must-read. “This is essential reading for any business owner since it clearly explains what it means to actually build a business. The distinction between working in a business vs working on a business is particularly profound and has completely changed how I approach my business.”

5. Working With You is Killing Me: Freeing Yourself from Emotional Traps at Work by Katherine Crowley and Kathi Elster. Hair stylist Shaun Surething owns and operates a successful and fun hair salon called Seagull in the West Village of NYC. He thinks every small business owner should read this book, and here’s why: “There is not one person in the world, especially in the workplace, who could not benefit from reading this book and doing the worksheets. Figuring out what kind of person you are yourself as well as those around you is a crucial skill in learning how to communicate effectively. We all know constructive communication is at the core of all great business, especially in higher end service businesses like Seagull Hair Salon.”

6. Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss. Yes, we were surprised when we spotted this title in someone’s list. But Karen Parente, founder of Imagine Senior Living, made a persuasive argument for its inclusion: “I love this book because when I start to question some of my decisions as a business owner or when I make excuses on what can’t be done, I turn to this book and it smacks me right back into reality. I also consider this book to be one of the most inspirational books out there of all time.”


1. Seth Godin. Greg Whitton says, “I suspect that anyone who reads business blogs will probably have Seth’s blog at the top of their list! Seth Godin epitomizes thought leadership. His commentary on strategy, leadership, marketing, and business in general is as inspiring as it is provocative.”

2. Michael Okhravi explains, “In my experience, there are new companies run by people who want to own a business and then there are start-ups run by entrepreneurs. The difference is in the level of ambition. Wannabe business owners just want to make a living doing something they enjoy. Entrepreneurs want to change the world. I read posts on because the material pertains to me and my ambition. It can certainly help smaller, hobbyist businesses, but that’s not who the messages are intended for. The contributors and authors are like me. They want to have the same impact on the world. It’s a special kind of mind-set.”

3. Others blogs that were mentioned include Mashable, Social Media Examiner, Duct Tape Marketing, and American Express OPEN Forum.


1. Forbes. No surprise on this one, of course, since this magazine is geared towards people with keen business sense as well as an entrepreneurial spirit. But Michael Ohkravi says the reason he reads this magazine is because it goes much deeper than that. “I read Forbes because it writes about every piece of relevant news but examines it through a business perspective. Unlike most business magazines, it doesn’t fill its content shelves with transparent headlines and how-to bull crap. It’s real. It talks about disruptive startups. It uncovers possible crimes and wrongdoings by wealthy people. It talks about
politics and economics. The contributors are experienced experts and not random bloggers. The reporters conduct themselves like real reporters and conduct interviews, reach out to companies or people being written about, and do their due diligence.”

2. The Week. Denise Blasevick says, “[It] puts the week’s news into bite-sized pieces for my consumption, keeping me up on the latest and greatest.”

3. Other magazines mentioned include the print version of Entrepreneur, SUCCESS, Inc., and AdWeek.

How about you? What’s on your reading list this summer? And what are some of your favorite business books and blogs? Share in the comments.

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