How Can I Choose the Best Books to Help on Your Business Journey?
When I began as Entrepreneur in Residence at the library, the first thing asked of me was to suggest a list of books. A mini wave of panic came over me: with thousands of books on entrepreneurship out there, how’s an indecisive person to pick?
Ask Yourself: What's the point of what I'm doing?
Like a good entrepreneur, I took a step back and thought about what my goals were for sharing this information. I realized that, while there are many excellent books which are “go-to’s” for entrepreneurship, I wanted a list which filled gaps that many well-known books lack. These include:
- Most books think of entrepreneurship as just starting a corporation or sole proprietorship. But it can, and should, include cooperatives, charities, non-profits, informal organizations and movements.
- Very few books focus on how their business impacts environment or society, or how a greater awareness of these can improve your business profits and practices by weaving them into everything you do.
- Mental health is often left out of the equation, though entrepreneurship can be incredibly difficult emotionally and mentally. It’s best to think about your health from day one if you want to start a business.
- Most entrepreneurship books are written by very privileged members of society. Which doesn’t mean they don’t have good things to say, but why highlight them when people with equally valid experiences can be highlighted?
- Many focus on assuming unlimited business growth, but realistically most entrepreneurs are going to have smaller businesses that allow them to have a more balanced lifestyle.
Delegation via Facebook
Also, like a good entrepreneur, I knew I didn’t have to do it all alone, so I reached out to many friends who shared their faves, some which are included here. And yes, that included asking my friends on Facebook! Crowdsourcing and delegating are your best friends as an entrepreneur.
It May Take More Time, But It's Worth It
Getting this list together was harder than I imagined! Maybe because a lot of less privileged people may not be published authors, and they may use less traditional mediums such as blogs and social media to share their wisdom.
But, I’m proud to share a list of books that include a diversity of authors, formats, and subjects. Some of these books are very practical, step-by-step advice such as how to write a business plan. Others are more philosophical, not even meant for business, but can be woven into your work. I've pasted the full list below. Have fun!
My Recommended Books
Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds by Adrienne M. Brown.
Nothing in life is constant, especially as an entrepreneur. This book provides practical ways to build your business under the assumption that a lot is going to change, and that is okay.
Indigenous Business in Canada: Principles and Practices by Keith G. Brown, Mary Beth Doucette and Janice Esther Tulk.
This book is important because it includes history, success stories, and voices of Elders, community members. You do not have to be Indigenous to learn from this book, but is helpful for doing business in Turtle Island (North America).
Drop the Ball by Tiffany Dufu.
This book grants permission to not be perfect, to “drop the ball” and let it roll around freely. As soon as you are able to allow yourself to not always have all the balls in the air, you will be able to breathe easier and focus on what is really needed for success in your business and life. It also has some practical basic things like the importance of sleep, networking, and self-care in different formats.
Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months: A Month-by-Month Guide to a Business that Works by Melinda F. Emerson.
While there are many “how to” books for entrepreneurship, this one is quite thorough, easy to read, practical, achievable, has templates, and more.
The 4-Hour Workweek, Expanded and Updated by Timothy Ferriss.
4 hours a week does not seem realistic or even desirable for most peoples’ work. While I find some of it absurd and problematic, I still find the book really gives food for thought on things like boundaries, time management, and setting up communication that suits your needs.
The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau.
What I like about this book is that it is an easy read. Entrepreneurship can feel VERY intimidating. This book makes it seem lesso, focusing on the idea that you should think about the type of life you want to live, and build a business around that. This book encourages starting small, and has some simple templates you can fill out to get on the right path.
Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution by Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins and Hunter L. Lovins.
This book profoundly shaped my thinking about the world and even set me on the path for what I studied at university. Author Hunter Lovins spoke at my high school and changed my life path from a wannabe astronaut to an entrepreneur who focuses on how to make the environment better through creating successful businesses. The information was new at the time, but seems like common knowledge now. Still a great read.
Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer.
This title offers reflections from an Indigenous woman on life and nature. Whether you are an atheist, Buddhist, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Indigenous, or more, these reflections and meditations can be braided into your business.
Citizen-Led Innovation for a New Economy by Alison Mathie and John Gaventa.
This book includes 11 case studies of different ways complex problems have been solved by regular people with innovation, changing systems, and taking opportunities to change the economy and their communities with an eye towards fairness and sustainability.